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We all have tons of images that could be so much more compelling if it weren’t for that blasted dull sky.  You know that giant gray nothingness that seems to suck the power right out of your masterpiece.

In my view, an awesome sky can totally change the mood, feel and drama of a landscape image.  It is a huge component of the final composites I create for clients.  I will be the first to admit that clipping skies can be a tedious drag.  I have, to some degree, made peace with it taking the “Zen” approach, “The journey is the adventure, enjoy every moment”.  That all sounds cool until you start working on the leaves and trees in your scene.

Here is a technique you can use that will dramatically reduce the retouching time and frustration you experience while clipping.

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  1. Find and open an image that you want to enhance.  A mostly gray sky works best.
  2. Find and open a sky image that you’d like to use instead of your current sky.
  3. Select the portion of the image you want to insert into your landscape image using a selection tool tool.
  4. Drag and drop (or copy and paste) your replacement sky over your landscape image.
  5. Temporarily lower the opacity of the new sky so you can see how it is lining up.  
  6. Once you have it in position increase the opacity back to 100%.  Now go to your layer blending mode tab on the replacement sky and try different layer blending modes until you find one that gives you the desired result.  I find that “multiply” works great most of the time.
  7. As you change the blending mode you will notice the new sky will appear where the original sky was and the replacement sky will sort of fade into the trees and leaves.  You will notice that the replacement sky will be partially visible on the lower “landscape” portion of the images.
  8. To remove that area create a layer mask on your replacement sky and simply, lightly brush it out.  Since the new sky only “ghosts” the landscape it is really easy to blend out using a layer mask.

This will provide you with a awesome result in a fraction of the time clipping takes.  Now go find all those awesome images you left for dead and give them the power they deserve.

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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. I have yet to attempt this technique but could probably salvage some images using it!

    Reply
  2. I will try, thanks for sharing

    Reply

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About Greg Sims

I am a commercial advertising photographer specializing in multilayered composites imagery. I like running with scissors. Doing my best to live a visual life.

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Landscape

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