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Replacing the Sky -- Using a Radial Gradient

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  • Replacing the Sky -- Using a Radial Gradient

    Here is an image from Lamont, FL. A bit of autumn color in North FL.

    It's a Canon 10D shot from last autumn. Canon 17-40mm "L" lens. Polarizer. I quickly ran onto a highway bridge and snapped the image.

    Actually, I took several exposures. I was happy with the details on the right in this one, although the sky was disappointing.

    Versions with a dark blue sky lost a lot of details on the right.

    I could have sandwiched two exposures and used layer masks, but I decided instead to work with one image. So, how did I fix the sky?

    I started with a selection of the sky using the Magic Wand tool. I set it 50 for Tolerance and unchecked the Contiguous box. A few pieces of the water were inadvertently selected, and I converted to Quick Mask mode and painted them out. I applied a Gaussian Blur before leaving Quick Mask mode to soften the selection edges.

    Then I took an image where I liked the sky and made a gradient from dark blue and light blue in the sky.

    I made a new layer for the selection using ctrl-j (cmd-j) and then applied the gradient as a radial gradient from the upper left to the lower right.

    I made a duplicate layer with alt-ctrl-shift-n-e and used it to make some minor tweaks to Color Balance and to Levels.

    The next step was to reduce a specular highlight on the bridge. I made a selection with the Magic Wand, feathered the selection, and added a Levels adjustment layer to lower the white output slider to 205.

    Sharpening was done on a duplicate layer (alt-ctrl-shift-n-e) using a dual contour luminosity mask USM sharpening with my TLR Sharpening Toolkit (free to all on my Web site).

    Final step also used a duplicate layer (alt-ctrl-shift-n-e). It was round of Local Contrast Enhancement using USM 20,50,0.

    Comments are welcome!