Photoshop’s Neural Filters are so amazing that it’s tempting to reach for them first whenever editing images that need work. Despite the magic, however, sometimes a more “traditional” approach is almost as easy and delivers more faithful results.
One such example is editing landscape photos with dull, boring skies. Sure, you can jump into Photoshop’s filters and replace the sky with something more dramatic. But how about using conventional tools to enhance the original sky for a result that’s more evocative of the scene you photographed?
The topic of today’s episode from our friends at Phlog Photography is exactly that: rehabilitating, rather than replacing, an uninspiring sky for an attention-grabbing image. As you’ll see, this technique from instructor Christian Mohrle is so easy to accomplish that it takes less than nine minutes to explain.
Mohrle’s goal with this quick edit is to retain natural-looking colors while adding contrast and details to the clouds. He also brightens the foreground to balance the tones, straightens the horizon, and does a bit of simple cleanup.
Mohrle makes a few enhancements to the overall image before turning to selective adjustments—first changing the camera profile to Adobe Standard for reasons he explains. He then modifies White Balance and adds some subtle Texture and Vibrance.
Now using local adjustments Mohrle employs linear gradients to modify exposure. He darkens the sky, and uses a Color Range mask to brighten the foreground. The next step, before a quick final cleanup, is using a Radial Gradient on the clouds to further boost clarity and contrast while slightly pumping up the whites.
You can find more simple-and-effective editing videos like this by visiting Mohrle’s popular YouTube channel.
And for another tip for turning “blah” into “wow” check out a tutorial we posted recently, explaining how to edit sunset photos captured on dull days.