One of the nice things about living in Central Texas is that we get some of the most magnificent skies I’ve ever seen. Unlike some parts of the country which have fairly consistent weather we’re on the border between two climate zones and we get all sorts of peculiar storms and impressive cloud formations and about the bluest skies you can imagine. For a photographer this offers some great opportunities, and in this case it’s a bounty which can be shared.
One of the easiest tricks to do in Photoshop, or a similar graphics program, is to take a photo with a drab sky and replace it with something more dramatic and impressive. Overcast conditions and clear blue skies produce uniform skyscapes which can easily be replaced and using a real image is a great improvement on using Photoshop’s rather sterile cloud generator filter. In fact, in most cases you can just click on the sky with the magic wand tool and select the whole thing. You can then take a more interesting sky image and paste it into that space and it looks absolutely natural. If you’re going to blow the picture up large you may want to go over the boundary between the sky and the ground with the blur tool on a low setting if the transition isn’t perfect, but in most cases this isn’t even necessary.
There are several benefits to improving your skies. Sometimes the thing you want to photograph isn’t going to wait around for a better overall picture with a nicer looking sky. A sky with stronger colors also provides a better contrast and a better backdrop for images. It can actually make your main subject stand out more and add drama to the overall picture. Of course, it can also distract if it overwhelms your main subject. But there are a lot of photos which can be seriously improved by the addition of a powerful and dramatic skyscape.
A few days ago I had the opportunity to take a series of great sky photos as the edges of a tropical storm came through the Austin area. The result is a collection of 12 unique and dramatic Texas skyscapes which I’m making available here for download for your photo projects. Put them to good use.