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Enhancing Skies Using Smart Objects in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop

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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-thumb1 Enhancing Skies Using Smart Objects in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop Guest Bloggers Lightroom Tutorials Photoshop Tips & Tutorials , press the Shift key and you will see Open Object clip-image010-thumb1 Enhancing Skies Using Smart Objects in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop Guest Bloggers Lightroom Tutorials Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

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

 clip-image012-thumb1 Enhancing Skies Using Smart Objects in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop Guest Bloggers Lightroom Tutorials Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

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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No Comments

  1. Wendy Mayo on December 7, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Jodi, how did you know I needed this tutorial? I just got through photographing some Christmas trees and was wondering how to make the lights glow. Are you a mind reader?

  2. angela sackett on December 8, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    wow, that is really cool! i just did some shots of our tree (details) and can’t wait to play! thank you, jodi!

  3. Linda on December 8, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    What a great tutorial!!! Thank you.

  4. Kelly Simpson on December 8, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    What a timely tutorial! Thanks Jodi!

  5. Jennifer Moline, PsPrint on December 8, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    I really like this tutorial. I included it in a roundup of holiday tips: http://blog.psprint.com/graphic-design/business-holiday-tutorials-resources/

  6. fahsodahwioa on August 15, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I’ve been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours Enhancing Christmas Lights Using Photoshop * watch your lights glow MCP Photography Blog. It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

  7. Jan on December 9, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    That was awesome and just what I was looking for, thanks!!!

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