Restoring Dull Sky

Posted: 15th July 2008 by Jacky Yong in Photography

I have a big problem while shooting the Bagan Lalang project a while back. Most of the sky were of dull grey, with no noticeable details like clouds etc. (There is a lot of dust though, but that’s because my sensor is dirty! :P) Have a look at this picture:

So here are the steps that I did to restore the colour and the contrast of the sky.

Taking the picture in RAW format is almost always a prerequisite for doing any photoshopping. At least for me. That’s because in my steps, I need to create two separate images; one is a picture of the subject properly exposed, another is a picture of the sky properly exposed. I go one step further, my preference is to shift the white balance towards the cold side for the sky, to make the sky bluer. All these were done in Lightroom. Since I shoot in RAW, I can freely adjust the exposure and white balance with minimal detail lost! Ain’t that cool?

Next I import them into Photoshop. You can see the two pictures here:

Next, click on the picture of the properly-exposed subjects and press “CTRL-A”. Then select the picture of the properly-exposed sky and press “CTRL-V”. In effect, you have just copied the clear subject over the clear sky. It will create a layer of the clear subject over the clear sky:

Create a layer mask over the top layer. Click on the layer mask icon:

Press the “\” key on your keyboard. Using the paint brush (by pressing “B” on your keyboard) paint over the sky which should be over exposed. You should see a swab of green over the sky. Don’t worry about it. After you have done, it should look something like this:

Press the “\” again and you should now be able to see your two pictures combined with the sky properly exposed. In my case, I also added a brightness layer and a curve layer. I also touched up their eyes and teeth a little for that extra sparkle!

There you go. I have finished! This is just one of the many possible things that you can do to fix the sky. As a comparison, take a look at the picture after it has been fixed:

  1. libelly says:

    cool!!! will try this out some day later…