There are many ways to edit images, but obviously what is in the image dictates what that editing will actually be. One area that pretty much always receives some attention from me is where the sky is present, whether that’s adding some punch to the clouds by adding some clarity or just simply restoring a bit of blue back into a slightly washed out sky.
So I thought I would show you a quick way I would go about tackling this in Lightroom. The image I am using here was taken just a couple of weeks back at a wedding I shot down in Chatham, Kent. I have placed the bride and groom in the shade beside a bandstand up on an bit of open parkland, which as you can see gets a great unrestricted view of the sky, specially from the angle that I shot it. It’s an image where I have exposed correctly for the scenery and then introduced off camera lighting to light up the bride and groom. The image itself has had some minor clone/heal work to tidy up the floor around the bandstand, but other than that this is how the image came out of the camera.
So why the need to make the sky bluer if I could control the exposure in the first place by underexposing the scenery a tad to make the sky darker, and therefore more colourful. Well, I simply didn’t want the rest of the image darker. I knew I could easily deal with the sky after and so I slightly over exposed the sky making sure the ground level background was perfectly exposed. So, how’s it done.
Well this tutorial below can be used for skies that are almost perfect right the way through to those that are almost blown out (Heavily overexposed) Firstly, this is a simple method but it’s universal, so it will affect the whole image in one hit and not just one area like the sky.
On the right hand side in the Develop Panel open the Basic tab and find the highlights slider and just drag that down into the negative numbers and just watch the brightness in your sky drain away slowly, and simply stop at a number where you feel your image is better.
Next open the HSL tab and make sure the word Luminance in highlighted by clicking on it. Now you need to select the TAT. The TAT is the little icon just beneath the word Hue, and TAT, if you don’t know, stands for Targeted Area Tool. This in basic is a click and drag tool. You drag upwards to increase or downwards to decrease, and what you are going to select is any colour within the picture in front of you. So here I will select an area in the sky, so click, hold, and drag down and this will make all the blues in the picture darker the further down you go.
Then change the selection from Luminance to Saturation by clicking on the word Saturation and then click and hold on the sky again, but this time drag up to increase the saturation of the blues until the image looks how you want it to.
This method, as I said at the start, affects the whole image, and if it is heavy in blues in won’t be just the sky you have just manipulated, it’ll be everything else in the image that is blue as well. There is a solution to it, and that’s to work Locally on the sky with the adjustment brush, and I’ll do another tutorial soon to tell you how I’d go about doing that to.
For now though the final thing to show is how the sky finished after this very simple editing technique. I admit its a subtle change, as it depends very much on how far you want to push the sliders, but in this one I feel it brings the sky back to how it was and gives it a realistic result. If you want to push the boundaries of reality you can run a clarity brush over the sky and clouds it’ll really make the sky stand out and give it some pop.
Catch you all again soon