Even now in the 2020s the camera isn’t nearly as good at seeing things as your eye.
On the left is how this building in Copenhagen looked to my eye, and on the right is how I saw the sky. If the building is exposed properly the sky is white; if the sky is exposed properly the building is so dark that no amount of Shadow/Highlight settings will rescue it.
Here I selected the white sky area and pasted the blue sky into it using the ‘Paste into’ command. It was a tad trickier than that but didn’t take overly long to rework.
Another example, done almost the same way, is this friend’s photo from Peru. In this case the original photo not only had the dreaded white sky, it also had some modern-looking grey blocks running up the right side which I cropped off. I selected the white sky and then pasted in several variations of skies until I hit one that looked right. In both this photo and the one above, the light of the sky didn’t exactly match the light of the building, so I added a warming filter to correct it. Running it through a photo app is another way of making the lighting match up.
For this post I’m also experimenting with the new Block Editor and Image Compare. Image Compare seems to work great with horizontal photos but vertical photos are coming in much larger than I want, and I can’t figure out a way to scale them down. For this vertical image of Ceide Fields in Ireland I am showing the burnt-out highlights of the original sky, and then another shot of it with its new replacement sky. It was easy to select the sky in this image as there was a fairly clean line between the sky and the land.
There is another way to fix skies, and that’s to select the bad sky and, in a new layer, use a graduated fill to ‘paint’ in the sky. If there’s a lot of scruffy trees that are hard to select I usually try various blends like ‘Darken’ or ‘Multiply’ which make the trees underneath show up. However, this is one of my earlier slides where the entire sky area was filled with debris. As soon as I added Darken to bring the trees into it the debris showed up as well. Ultimately I had to roughly paint out the debris on the original scan to make the graduated fill blend work. This photo was taken in 1974 and the totem pole no longer exists which makes it worthwhile for me to spend some time to fix it up.
Lack of a clean edge and trees aren’t the only thing that can cause problems. If I had realized ahead of time how complicated it can get if the sky is reflected in the water I probably would have thought the original slightly bland sky was just fine. I did this image as part of Robin G’s One Four Challenge, where you take one photo and edit it four different ways, and in this post I tried to show some of the step-by-step.
One thing I’ve had fun with is layering textures to old (and not so old) photos. Here I’ve taken an old black and white shot of the Parthenon in Greece, and completely covered up the bland sky, along with most of the photo in an attempt to make the photo look even more ancient than it is. And as to using Image Compare in the Block Editor, because this photo is vertical, it has come in about 1/3 larger than I want. Anyone know a quick way to size these images down?
Using a photo app such as Stackables can also help add character to the burnt-out white sky without any cutting and pasting. It’s also a lot more fun too. Hmmm….