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Replacing an Overcast Sky

Taking photographs on an overcast day is always a mixed blessing. Because of the clouds, the illumination is diffused—and that's good. But these kinds of clouds also make the horizon of a landscape photograph uninteresting—which isn't so good. The Magic Wand tool can be used in this type of situation to make an easy selection of the overcast sky. After you have selected the sky, you can replace it with an artificial one created in Photoshop or with another photograph of a sky with clouds that appear more interesting. Let's move on and see how this is done.

Adding a Cloudy Sky

  1. Open the dscn0349.tif image from the Examples/Chap03 folder on the Companion CD. Press W to switch to the Magic Wand tool. On the Options bar, set the Tolerance to 70 (this high setting ensures that all of the areas around the branches will be tightly selected). Click in the upper-right area of the sky. The selection marquee shown in Figure 3.21 shows the edges of the initial selection.

  2. Choose Select, Similar. Wow! Now you have more selected than you wanted. That's easy to fix.

  3. Choose the Rectangle Marquee tool from the toolbox. On the Options bar, click the Subtract from selection icon. Click and drag a marquee over all of the area in the lower part of the photograph, where there's no sky, as shown in Figure 3.22.

  4. Figure 3.21Figure 3.21 The Magic Wand tool is essential for replacing an overcast sky.

     

    Figure 3.22Figure 3.22 Use the Rectangle Marquee tool and the Subtract from selection option to correct the unwanted areas of the selection.

    It may help to drag the corner of your document window to give yourself some working room when making this rectangular selection. Start the drag on the left edge (around the tops of the monuments). Don't forget to include the highest monuments near the trees in the marquee selection. If you need to reposition the selection as you create it, hold the spacebar while you continue to keep the mouse button pressed. This allows you to drag and reposition the marquee selection while you are creating it. When you have the marquee in the desired location (a tight fit above the monuments at the top edge), release the spacebar and continue dragging down to the lower-right corner of the document.

  5. Change the foreground color to a believable sky blue color (R:104, G:148, B:238), and leave the background color white.

  6. From the Filter menu, choose Render, Clouds. The result of the Clouds filter is generated randomly. In other words, the result differs each time it is used. Therefore, if you don't like the results on the first try, press Ctrl(„)+F to repeat the last filter used until you are pleased with the results. Another little-known trick is to hold down the Alt(Opt) key when you choose Filter, Render, Clouds—the result is a sharper, more severe rendering. When you have a result that pleases you, press Ctrl(„)+Shift+F to open the Fade dialog box (or go to the Edit menu and choose Fade Clouds). In the Fade dialog box, change the Opacity to 50%, set the Mode to Hard Light (you can also try the Pin Light mode as an interesting alternative—see Figure 3.23). The replacement sky looks realistic enough to pass as the real thing. Press Ctrl(„)+D to deselect. Press Ctrl(„)+Shift+S to save the file on your hard disk as WildFlowers.tif. Keep the file open for the next exercise.

  7. Figure 3.23Figure 3.23 This may be an artificial sky, but it looks better than the original slate gray one it replaced.

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Inside Photoshop 7

This chapter is from the book

Inside Photoshop 7

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