Landscape Photography – creative sky replacement using the color picker
Mother nature’s rich color palette at this time of year is a gift for landscape photography, often accompanied by mellow light and artistic skies that further enhance an image.. but not always. If conditions aren’t totally perfect, don’t let that stop you getting the shot.
Photography, of course, is all about light, and no amount of post production can replace the magic that happens in camera. But, if you don’t have the luxury of time, the location on your doorstep, or any of the other factors that mean this is your only chance for an image, then take it! It’s easy to replace flat grey skies using Fluid Mask with just a few clicks. This example was done in less than 3 minutes, utilising the color workspace to pick out the background with just a few clicks. Here’s a step by step explanation:
– First up, I selected the color picker and set the resolution to it’s coarsest setting. The sky we’re looking to select is the lightest part of the image, so by selecting just the first band, furthest to the right on the histogram, that’s highlighted most of the sky areas for me.
I then assigned these to my delete mask, by clicking on the red bucket on the left hand side of the color picker pane.
With the blend mode set to ‘thick’, I then hit ‘create cutout’ for an initial first pass at this mask.
– That’s given me a pretty good cutout, but viewing in the Cut-out tab, by setting the background color to something ultra contrasty (black!), you can see that there’s still a few small areas of sky showing though the leaves.
So, going back to the color picker, I zoomed in and manually selected some of these areas sampling directly from the image. Holding down the shift key allowed me to add multiple areas to my selection.
See the image below where I’ve zoomed in even further to show this.
– Using the coarsest setting the color picker offers to get to this point so quickly, I ended up with a few of the highlights in the leaves also added to my delete mask, so tabbing between the original and the workspace, using the keep brush I spent a minute adding these highlights back to my keep mask, keeping the blend mask width to ‘thick’ to avoid any unnatural hard edges.
And that’s the job done. Super easy, super fast!
You can of course work the other way around – use the color picker to select hues for your keep mask, and then use the autofill with delete option, instead of autofill with keep. It would depend on whether it’s your foreground or background that has the easier selection to pick out. For landscape photography, it’s often the sky that an easier selection to make.
Enjoy the magic of fall, whatever the weather, and work smarter with Fluid Mask.