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Grey sky to Blue sky.

Isac

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Change GREY sky to BLUE sky.
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1. Open your image and on the top menu, click SELECT > COLOR RANGE.
2. In "Select:" choose "Highlights" and set the sliders Fuzziness = 0 / Range = 220 and click OK.
These adjustments will vary for different images. We need good to get good separation of the sky from all other objects.
This is a quick method of creating a luminosity mask.
Fig-1.jpg

3. With the selection visible (marching ants) click on Create new fill or adjustment layer at the bottom of the layers panel, and click on Gradient....
4. In the Gradient Fill dialog box, click on the actual gradient to open the Gradient Editor.

Edit Gradient
5. Click on the Black, White gradient - (3rd from left in the Basic gradients).
6. Click on the bottom left Black Color Stop then click on the coloured box in the Color: selector to open the Color Picker. Choose a soft sky blue colour (# 95c2ff).
7. Click on the bottom right White Color Stop. Repeat #6 and choose a softer sky blue colour (# cee3ff). Click OK to close the Gradient Editor.
Fig-2-3-4.jpg

8. In the Gradient Fill dialog box, check Reverse to place the darker blue at the top. (Most clear day sky is lighter at the horizon). Click OK.
Change the blend mode to Linear Burn. You can experiment with other blend modes, even Normal will still work OK.
Fig-5.jpg

9. If any blue colour is showing through other objects, paint it out with a Black brush on the Mask layer.
By using a mask, you can refine it to get it perfect just by painting on it with black or white with the brush tool.

10. To move the gradient up or down, open the Gradient Fill adjustment options by double-clicking on the Gradient Fill thumbnail in the layers panel.
Drag the gradient (in the image) up or down. You can also set the Opacity to suit.

Final image
Fig-6.jpg

Thanks for viewing, Greg (Isac Images Digital Photography)
 

Southern Gent

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Great suggestion on selection tools. Color range can be an excellent and fast method of selection. Don't forget the eye droppers give you the ability to add or subtract from the selection.

When I have a fairly complicated selection, before I do anything else I save the selection. Selection>save selection>name it. Now go to channels, uncheck all but your selection channel. With that channel selected hit Ctrl L to bring up levels, moving the right point left will clean up the white areas, moving the left point right will clean up fuzziness in the blacks. You can also use a white or black brush here to cleanup the mask. When done recheck your RGB channels, uncheck selection and go back to layers. The selection still works as you have it, but now if you need the selection again, all you do is go to Selection>load selection>name.

Another technique I've used with color range when it's not as clean as your example is to do multiple selections and use Apply Image to selectively target areas.
 

Isac

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Great suggestion on selection tools. Color range can be an excellent and fast method of selection. Don't forget the eye droppers give you the ability to add or subtract from the selection. Another technique I've used with color range when it's not as clean as your example is to do multiple selections and use Apply Image to selectively target areas.
Cheers for that SG. I like playing with all those methods you've mentioned. I also like to use various luminosity masks. I've written an action which creates a full set of luminosity masks from a range of 5 highlights, 5 mid-tones and 5 darks. Very easy to select the one you need and you can use the masks to target any area you wish. If you want the action it's a freebie from my website HERE (item 20).
I also love the AI Sky Replacement in Luminar 4 - it's brilliant. Here's the result by creating a simple gradient in PS and then getting Luminar 4 to use it as a replacement sky.
Red_Kite_LUM4.jpg
I also added another one using one of Luminar's included skies (Bright Blue Sky 3). It changes the overall tone to match the new sky. It's so quick!
Red_Kite_LUM4-2.jpg
 

Southern Gent

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. I like playing with all those methods you've mentioned. I also like to use various luminosity masks. I've written an action which creates a full set of luminosity masks from a range of 5 highlights, 5 mid-tones and 5 darks. Very easy to select the one you need and you can use the masks to target any area you wish. If you want the action it's a freebie from my website HERE (item 20).
I also love the AI Sky Replacement in Luminar 4 - it's brilliant. Here's the result by creating a simple gradient in PS and then getting Luminar 4 to use it as a replacement
One of Photoshop's greatest features is its ability to accomplish the same task in multiple ways. One of Photoshop's most frustrating feature is its ability to accomplish the same task in multiple ways. Choosing the correct way for the image at hand can be confusing because some times it takes multiple steps to arrive at the end result. Your examples above using Luminar and simple steps is a case in point. While it does make broad selections, notice all the artifacts around the owl, and in the trees. Even backgrounds which are close to the same color can create selection issues, requiring multiple tries to get it right.

Luminosity masks are another tool in the box. I've saved several actions myself. I don't use them much for selections anymore as I've found other methods of masking quicker and easier. I do occasionally use them in portrait retouching, when I need to separate skin details from color so I can modify them without affecting color. As with all tools everyone has a prefered pick for a job.

Another quick method of masking subjects with low contrast differences is to add>Levels Adjustment Layer>clip to subject layer. Now choke the levels layer to increase contrast. Use quick select to make the selection > mask > refine mask. Delete the levels adjustment layer when you're done.

Then there are times when nothing seems to work, like fine hair against a low contrast background. In those cases using one of multiple hair brushes to add details on a blank layer to ease the edges works well.
 
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Isac

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I've got to agree with your observations above SG. The original image was only small and had some serious fringing all over. I've been at this PS thing since the early 90's and still learning. I use the levels trick often for low contrast images to get a better mask. I use various hair brushes when necessary and I also paint with single strands. Using my tablet I can get some very accurate masks. I have a button on my tablet which activates the Luminar plug-in. I think Luminar is on the right track though, it can only get better. I have compared quite a few of the tools and filters and some are much better than PS. It has done some great sky replacements for me and it also does blending with the original sky which is great. The artifacts and halos are all easy fixes back in PS. Thanks for your comments - appreciated.
 

Southern Gent

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@Isac I took about a 30 year hiatus from photography. I was like Rip Van Winkle of sorts, when I sold the newspapers, my cameras and darkroom equipment went with them. So 4 years ago when the birth of my youngest granddaughter stirred my interest again, every thing had changed. However being retired and with nothing else to fill my time I've had the ability to learn quickly.

One thing that's helped me on the path is watching and learning from other users like yourself. Sharing ideas and watching other users in real world use, is a far more effective way for me to learn.

Initially I utilized some plugins in LR, like NIK, but when I went to a new computer last year it was no longer free. Truthfully when I started really exploring the newest LR updates vs what NIK offered I just didn't see an advantage. I haven't looked at Luminar, but maybe I need to. One thing I've learned is you can't close yourself off from new and better ideas.
 

RyanB

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Great tutorial Greg, lots to process but very informative and it shows how much drama a different sky can add to a shot.
 

Tony Mancini

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Excellent write up / tutorial Isac,
the second image with the added cloudy sky adds a new dimension to the original picture, well done master :clapping: ;)
 

Isac

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Initially I utilized some plugins in LR, like NIK, but when I went to a new computer last year it was no longer free. ...
Cheers for that SG. I have NIK (free version) stored on my website if you still want it HERE. I still use it now and then to see how a B&W version might look like but I now use the "Calculations" tool for making B&W and also for creating really accurate masks. It's all a learning curve as you say - and I'm loving it!
 

Isac

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Excellent write up / tutorial Isac, the second image with the added cloudy sky adds a new dimension to the original picture, well done master
It was Luminar that did the sky trick! I walk my dog every morning and I always manage to get a few photos of different skies to add to my collection. One thing for sure is that each sky shot is unique :)
 

Isac

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Great tutorial Greg, lots to process but very informative and it shows how much drama a different sky can add to a shot.
Thanks for the comments Ryan. I like to do the odd tutorial - keeps the grey matter ticking over. I just did a tutorial for our Australian forum for saving images for the web in Photoshop. It uses a Conditional action to determine if the image is Landscape or Portrait then resizes to match the orientation. I'll put a link in the Photoshop section later on today.
Cheers, Greg
 
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