Fixing a Blue Sky and Exposure Using Photoshop Actions: A Blueprint

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™

Fixing a Blue Sky and Exposure Using Photoshop Actions: A Blueprint

I edited this photo using MCP Photoshop actions for I Heart Faces.  This photo was submitted by Caroline of

When shooting on a bright day with the sky behind the subject, if you do not have a flash or reflector, it is hard for your camera to balance the exposure properly. Your subject likely will be underexposed and background overexposed. To fix this you can use Photoshop actions and layer masks to control where you need light.

I worked on this photo exclusively in Photoshop CS4 using the MCP Actions Bag of Tricks Photoshop action set, alongside Magic Skin and the Eye Doctor. These 3 Photoshop action sets can be found together in the Incredible Retouching Package. Then I completed the photo for web display using Frame It from the Finish It actions.

Here were my steps:

  1. Used Bag of Tricks “Magic Fill Light” action – ran it 2x at 100% opacity (flattening in between)
  2. Ran Bag of Tricks “Magical Clarity” and left this at  default of 27%
  3. Flattened so layer order would not present issues
  4. Used the Bag of Tricks “Sky is Bluer Illusion” action at the default settings
  5. Flattened and then duplicated the layer – ran “Gaussian Blur” to get rid of added color pixelization from making sky so vivid. Used setting of 8.8.
  6. Added a mask to the blurred layer and masked off the girl – so only sky was effected
  7. Flattened so layer order would not cause issues
  8. Used Bag of Tricks Magic Light (on face – painted using 30% brush)
  9. Used Bag of Tricks Magic Dark (painted on using 30% brush around edges of photo)
  10. Duplicated background and used patch tool on rash on elbows
  11. Ran Eye Doctor – used catchlight and Iris layer
  12. Ran Magic Skin at Default opacity
  13. Finished things off with Finish It actions – used Frame It Over-sized and sampled a blue from the sky to tie it all together for the web

This is before image:

before using photoshop actions

And here is the after:

after using photoshop actions

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™
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  1. March 27, 2010 at 5:22 am —

    An execllent posting with valid points, I’ve been a lurker right here for quite a while but hope to be a lot more included in the future.

  2. March 24, 2010 at 9:54 am —

    You can not believe how long ive been searching for something like this. Through 10 pages of Yahoo results and couldnt find anything. First page of bing. There this is…. Gotta start using that more often

  3. Cherisse
    March 1, 2010 at 7:00 pm —

    Love it! I can’t wait to purchase these actions!

  4. Bea Markham
    February 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm —

    Very nice result.

    Would appreciate a tutorial on “flattening” layers for us newbies. Thanks!

  5. Pam L.
    February 26, 2010 at 6:31 pm —

    Nice job, Caroline! Thanks for sharing that with us.

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Fixing a Blue Sky and Exposure Using Photoshop Actions: A Blueprint