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General Blog

Mastering Photoshop Layers

I'm just back from an incredible Phase One PODAS workshop in Kununurra where, at this time of the year, it is usual to have cloudless blue skies. And while cloudless blue is great for travel brochures, it isn't what I had in mind. In fact, I was getting ready to strip in some clouds if necessary. But how do you do it?

First, it's not easy to drop a new sky into every landscape. In the example above of Ani in Eastern Turkey, I have specially selected it as a training example simply because it has an easy sky! However, if you have a complicated horizon line with lots of irregularly shaped trees, it can be a nightmare to drop in a sky properly.

Second, and most importantly ...

... you should match the sky to the landscape below as much as possible. It's easier to replace a blue sky with a sky that is also blue along the horizon. It is challenging to replace a blue sky with a dark stormy one (although this is what I have done above). And it is best to use the same lens focal length for both the sky and the landscape below if you want the result to be completely believable.

In terms of the fine tuning in Photoshop, after you have made the composite, one trick is to lighten up the sky in the area just above the horizon. If you start dropping in skies, you should also start looking at what happens to skies in real life and what you'll find is that they are generally lighter (and less contrasty) towards the horizon. This is not always the case (for example, with a dark approaching storm), but in most cases, the trick is to add a masked curves or levels adjustment layer and use it to lighten up the sky just above the horizon with a large, soft brush.

Peter Eastway Uses

Peter Uses

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