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Trying To Get The Best Out Of Landscape Pictures With Over-Exposed Skies

My Attempts To Repair Blown Out Images

Landcape with dull skySo I've got this landscape shot that I think is ok, as you can see to the left(click for a bigger image). It's an image of the moat of Fort Brockhurst, which is just around the corner from where I live.

This is the original straight from the camera. It's got a nice foreground, middle and back-ground, the reflections is nice, but the sky is very washed out. There is also some purple fringing on the tree's, but what I'm going to be trying to do is to get the sky looking better, a deeper blue more like the reflection in the water of the moat.

I took this picture on a tripod, and because I knew I would be having trouble with the exposure in the sky I used auto-bracketing on my S5700 / S700, with the original you see above, and an under-exposed and over-exposed shot, with a range of plus and minus 1 ev. Having these these extra frames will be useful in some of the techniques I'll try.

Right, lets get started!

moat pic 1

Ok, what I've done here is in Photoshop add a layer style, a gradient overlay. Using a black foreground, I've used foreground to transparent (reversed), with vivid light.

The sky now looks better, but the the overlay has also caused the purple fringing to really show up in the trees, spoiling the image..

Time to try a second technique.

moat pic 2

This is better. What I've done here is open both images in photoshop. I've adjusted the levels and saturation on both separately.

I've then copied one image and pasted it onto the other one, with the lighter one (where I like the bottom of the picture) on top in the layer pallet.

I've then applied a layer mask to the top layer (the square with a circle in at the bottom of the pallet.)

Now I select the brush tool with black, then "paint" the top half of the image. The darker sky now shows through. and I can paint as much as I like. If I do too much then I can select a white brush and repaint the top layer.

Alternative you can reduce the opacity or size of the brush for more delicate work.

moat pic3

Now I've just cropped the image and added unsharp mask to finish off this quick edit.

Go back and compare it with the image at the top of the page - I think it's much better. The trees are still a problem, but maybe I need a polarizing filter, or just wait until their leaves arrive.

I know that now every time I got out shooting with my tripod I'll always use auto bracketing.

What do you think, or do you have a better technique?

gun original Here's another technique where's there's no detail in the sky at all, as you can see in this picture.
I've adjusted the levels and added a little saturation.

To put the sky in, I've used the magic wand tool, set to 50, anti aliased and clicked in the sky area. This sets the area of our replacement sky.

The I've selected a blue as my foreground colour.

The I've selected the gradient fill tool, with the radial type, foreground to transparent, then click and dragged a line from the top left to the bottom right of the image. Done, but not very natural.

Maybe it looks better with gradient the other way?
In this picture I've created a new layer using the magic wand selection from earlier, then filled it with filter - render - clouds, then applied a gradient layer style overlay, foreground to transparent, lighten.
Or perhaps the other way?
In this version I've just replaced the sky with a better one from a different picture, and reduced the saturation slightly.


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