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Enhancing Skies Using Smart Objects in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™

Enhancing Skies Using Smart Objects in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop

Yesterday I showed you how to add fake skies where the sky is completely blown.  Today’s tutorial will teach you what to do if you have a nice sky that is just a little too light and could use some depth.  Thank you to our guest blogger Daniel Hurtubise for this fantastic tutorial.

One note: if you use Photoshop actions after doing this tutorial, and they call upon the background layer – you may need to bring the photo back in from Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw (not as a smart object) and/or rename a flattened/merged copy “background.”

 

Using Camera Raw to salvage a blown up sky

Often if you don’t use a filter it’s hard to balance the exposure to get nice details in the sky and in the landscape. Look at the example below, it’s a picture taken in Central Park, NYC.

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The picture was taken at f/10. I could have used one less stop for the bush and one more stop for the sky. But then I would have totally blown part of it.

To work around that we will use Camera Raw and Smart Objects.

First of all, open the image in Camera Raw

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I will now adjust the image to my desired look for the landscape part.

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So now, instead of doing a standards Open Image clip_image008 , press the Shift key and you will see Open Object clip_image010

This will open the image as a Smart Object. You can see that it’s a smart object by the icon on the layer.

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Now to work on the sky, we need to copy the layer. Make sure you do it through the menu and not CTRL + J

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Double-click on the Smart Object icon to open the new layer in Camera Raw

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Adjust the settings for the sky then click OK.

Now still on the “sky” layer I will make a selection of it using the Quick Selection tool

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Add a layer mask and it will just effect the sky.  If there is spill, you can clean it up on the mask as well:

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You now have a more balanced image in a non destructive way. You can go back and forth using Camera Raw.

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Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™
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How to Add a "Fake" Sky to a Photo in Photoshop
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3 Comments

  1. Ashley Larsen
    June 25, 2009 at 4:10 pm —

    Just tried it. LOVE IT!!! Never knew you could do that in raw. Great tutorial. Thank you.

  2. July 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm —

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

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Enhancing Skies Using Smart Objects in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop