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I met with a fellow photographer recently at a coffee shop.  We talked about many things – from encountering the unexpected on a location job (and how we handled it), to tricks we use in post production,  to whether or not  having a few jokes at the ready to loosen up portrait subjects on set is a good idea.  (I’m not a fan of that).  I find it entertaining to trade these real life experiences with another professional who understands.

Factual secrets of photographers are not willingly shared, (unless money is involved – seminars, subscriptions or death bed conversations).  As we talked, we were edging around admitting to techniques we use to solve difficult lighting situations, demanding clients and post production Photoshop tricks.  I give a little, you give a little.

How did you make that image?

When I see an image in a magazine, I try and analyze the components that make up the whole.  I think that very few images are printed for advertising that are not thoroughly retouched.  In my photographer’s coffee klatsch I mentioned earlier, the subject of sky replacement came up.  My photographer colleague assured me, he never replaces skies in images.   For what it is worth, I didn’t believe him.

It really doesn’t matter if a sky is or isn’t replaced in an image – as long as it looks better than the raw original images and it looks real!

Right out of the camera

Below is an raw architectural image, (un- retouched).  Before submitting this image as a final, I would retouch the parking lot by cloning out the cracks and darkening the entire surface.  I would also color correct and sharpen the signage and other building elements. The subjective portion of the image is the sky.  This is the way it looked that evening, simple and clean.

original dusk raw

Less is more

I look at this sky in the image above and I think it could be more interesting.   How do I do that?  I went into my sunset files and found a previously shot image that, after toning down the vibrancy of the reds and matching the tone to the original image’s cobalt blue sky,  I strategically overlaid  that sunset sky over the original sky on a separate layer.

sunset to overlay
Since the “sunset” overlay is on a separate layer, I can control the opacity of it.  I like to have a soft hint of the texture of those sunset clouds bleed through.  In the end, the final image is overall more interesting because of the overlaid additional sky.
final big
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