No Clouds? Photoshop to the Rescue!!!

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: January 13, 2011

Category: General

From time to time I get questions asking how I get those ‘moody’ clouds in some of my photographs; is it all done ‘in camera’ or is down to Photoshop? …

The honest answer is that 99% of the time it’s all done ‘in camera’ at the time of the shoot, however there are those times when that just isn’t possible i.e. a beautiful crisp winters afternoon with clear blue skies. Now when there’s no clouds, there’s no clouds no matter what you do as was the case with a recent photo shoot; however all is not lost because that’s exactly where Photoshop can help you out…

One thing I’ve been doing for quite some time is building up a library of images for use in situations such as this. I have a number of folders on my hard drive with all kinds of photographs in that I’ve collected or taken whilst out and about; skies, textures, locations etc … and this is something I’m constantly adding to …

Below you can see an example of a ‘Before’ image with the crisp blue sky and not a cloud in sight and also an ‘After’ image where I’ve added in one of the skies I have on my hard drive. I actually quite like the original image with the clear, crisp blue sky but the brief before the shoot was to end up with moody/atmospheric pictures that would fit in with the look of the biker; all in black and on a black Harley Davidson …

As photographers I feel we should work hard to get our images as good as we possibly can ‘in camera’ and then use Photoshop as a tool to create the final look. However as in this case, there are times when Photoshop is needed that little bit more and if I was going to have a series of images with ‘moody’ clouds in the sky then I was going to have to add them during the editing/post production stage.

Lighting Set Up:
Lighting couldn’t have been much simpler; one Elinchrom Quadra and reflector just right of camera aimed at a certain point where the bike was set to pass …

Note: Lying down in the road isn’t big and isn’t clever…in fact some would say it was downright foolish…you can get filthy 🙂

•    •    •

If you have any questions or comments about this particular shoot or maybe would like to see how some of the editing was done then as always please feel free to make use of the comments section below.

Enjoy 🙂

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19 Comments

  1. Mike Patterson

    I started collecting cloud images myself recently and it already paid off with one image I had to add a cloud to.

    Oh and the lying on the ground thing, put a sheet down and then you wont get dirty ;-)))

    Reply
    • Glyn

      Clouds…love ’em!
      Cheers for the ‘tip’…to be honest it makes a change for me to be lying down for the shot and not getting covered in something unpleasant; if you know what I mean 🙂

      Reply
  2. Justin Zhang

    Glyn, its a similar shoot from me, which did in camera. Its quite strange in this country that it either rains too much as non-expected or becomes sunny when you are looking for some cloud. Another benefit to have a cloud in PS will be saving my battery a bit as i dont need close down my f stops to have the sky. Shame to shoot with my 5dmk11, cant even sync at 1/200 sometimes.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      Hey Justin, you just gotta love the Great British Weather huh 🙂
      Cheers for the link…real nice shots there mate.

      Reply
  3. Justin Zhang

    You meant the “plumber” shoot? I know what you meant! LOL

    Reply
  4. Heather Williams

    Glyn, I love getting dirty so no sheet needed. Thanks again for the post. I am loving your blog. It has already taught me so much. From a newby stance – not sure how you add the clouds to the photo?? Do I just do an overlay? Again, thank you!

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Heather…Really great to hear you’re getting something out of the blog so thanks for that. With regards to how the photos were added the technique @David Kelly has linked you to is pretty much it apart from having to tweek just a couple of things because of the hedge line but that’s virtually it.

      Thanks again for the kind words,
      Glyn

      ps> I will be posting up a walk through showing how to ‘photograph’ the moody clouds ‘in camera’ v.soon 🙂

      Reply
  5. David Kelly

    Hi Glyn,

    You can never have too many clouds shot in your library can you? 😉 Out of interest are you capturing the clouds with any filters on the lens or just capturing as-is with correct metering?

    @Heather – not trying to take the wind out of Glyn’s sails (sorry Glyn) but have a look at this posting in Glyn’s blog: http://glyndewisblog.com/2010/09/20/photoshop-tutorial-dramatic-sky/
    – it may give some insight as to what approach he took here in PS.

    Regards,
    David

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @David…Absolutely mate…you can never too many clouds filling up that Hard Drive…lol 🙂
      Re the cloud photos I’m just capturing them ‘as is’; not exposing for the foreground etc so no real need for any filters.

      Cheers, Glyn

      ps> Thanks for adding in the link for Heather; spot on 🙂

      Reply
  6. Heather Williams

    David, thank you for the direction of the photoshop post – it is perfect. Gly, thank you for doing the sky post. I will have to go try it out. Appreciate it.

    Reply
  7. Kategraphy

    Hi Glyn,

    I just wanted to tell you: I love the sky in this picture! It’s perfect!

    Greetings. Kate

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Kate…Thanks for that; I do like a moody sky 🙂

      All the best to you,
      Glyn

      Reply
  8. Noel Hannan

    Hey Glyn, great shot and thanks for sharing. I like e cloud collection!
    All the best
    Noel

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Noel…You and me both mate…lol 🙂

      Cheers

      Reply
  9. Brandon Jacoby

    You should have a contest and giveaway your sky library 😉

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Brandon…I might just do that…lol 🙂

      Reply
  10. Claudio von grubens

    Hi glyn,

    great ones! did you also use clavin hollywoods contrast increasing blending technique?

    cheers
    claudio

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Claudio…Thanks for commenting mate. Re the clouds I used a contrasty B&W conversion on the layer above with the blend mode changed to Luminosity for this effect. In fact, on Monday I have a short post showing exactly this.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply

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