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April 27, 2011 / arthill

Fix up washed out skies

There are lots of ways to fix up gray or white skies. 

Picasa has an effect called Graduated Tint.  If you hover your mouse over it you see that the Picasa folks say it is “useful for skies”.


If we click on Graduated Tint you get a screen like this

image And if you pick a nice light blue you get something like this


Notice the little green cross hair in the center above the fountain.  You raise or lower that to control where the blue effect starts.

This works pretty well since the scene is pretty well divided between sky and buildings.  Sometime you’ve got a lot more sticking up into the sky and with this approach you’re going to turn those things blue.

Consider this shot.

With the Picasa method we would put a lot of blue tint on that yellow building.


So I’ve opened this picture in Photoshop Elements and done a rough selection of the sky using the lasso tool.  I could have painstakingly selected only the sky, leaving out the building and the trees but as you’ll see we don’t need to go to that much trouble.


The next step is to choose New Fill Layer from the Layer menu.  Choose solid color and pick a nice light blue.  You’ll see something like this


Whoops, where did those trees and top of the building go?  Not to worry we’re now going to choose Darken from the Blending Modes drop down in the layer palette. Darken tells the program to only change the color of those pixels that are lighter than the color we chose.



It still looks a little too blue for the time of day so we dial it back a bit using the opacity control in the layers pallette


and we end up with this


Leave a Comment
  1. Maryann Goldman / Apr 27 2011 5:22 pm

    Well done! I did not know what ‘Darken’ did. Cool!

  2. Ed Spadoni / Apr 27 2011 8:39 pm

    Very helpful Art. I’ve used the Picasa tool many times but you’re right, it’s an all or none proposition.

  3. Howard Hull / Apr 28 2011 4:21 pm

    Thanks, Art. The more you share the more I learn! Problem is, remembering the how to when I need to: ) I will be referring back to your blog frequently for that very reason.

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