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Author Topic: Realistic sky and clouds elude me  (Read 4137 times)
andyptak
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« on: June 18, 2007, 07:57:04 AM »
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Whenever I add a sky and cloud shot from my files to another shot, via Photoshop the results are usually dissapointing. The clouds look flat and lack depth and perspective, no modelling at all.

It lacks like a roll of cloud wallpaper has been added to the shot and not realistic. I'm not sure if it's my PS technique or my shooting technique, but how can you screw up a shot of a cloud?

Anyone have any ideas?
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mahleu
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2007, 08:28:54 AM »
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Google for some cloud brushes, my friend can use these quite effectively to create clouds. Otherwise make sure your selection and feathering is up to scratch when moving clouds in from other pics.
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andyptak
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2007, 08:54:12 AM »
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I think that my blending technique is okay. I'm usually adding a better sky to a building shot and you can't see the seam of the two shots. It's just that my skies look flat and lack apparent depth.

As I said, they remind me of a roll of wallpaper with clouds on rather than three dimensional objects. My buildings look three dimensional but the sky and ckouds don't, so they look phoney. I've tried different variations and different shots and the effect is more or less the same.

I think I need to get better modelling on my clouds in the first place. Could it be a time of day thing? I balance the colour temp of the two shots before I start and add a 15% 81A when I'm finished to give a uniform hue, but it doesn't seem to help.
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2007, 09:25:50 AM »
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Sounds like Nature is trying to punish you for cheating. ;)

Just kidding. I just grabbed a couple jpegs pretty much at random. One with an interesting sky, one in need of an interesting sky. I chose the sky image that had a similar sun angle and scale to the other image then combined them - not taking any pains to get a good selection - with this result:



The two originals and full scale version of the combination are here:

Needing sky

Replacement sky

Combined

Does my replacement sky image have the problems you are trying to address or is it any better? Either way you might want to post a sample with the problem you're having.
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andyptak
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2007, 10:06:45 AM »
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Thanks Dale

Yours looks great. As I've thought about this I think I've partially answered my own question. The focal plane of my clouds are at an upward angle - trying to miss all of those damn buildings - but the focal plane of my other shot is horizontal. My clouds look as if they're going up a wall because the perspective is wrong.

You say that you didn't put mutch effort into combining the two shots. Can you tell me how you did it? The reason that I ask is I noticed your tree limbs look natural against the sky. When I do it I use the Extract command to get rid of the sky I don't want and move the replacement sky into position. But then things like tree limbs give me a lot of retouching and cloning work to do to make the blend seem seamless. From the look of your shot and from your own description of not taking too much time, I think you did it a better way than I do.

And yes, I have felt that Mother Nature is admonishing me for trying to fake it.
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2007, 10:56:46 AM »
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Can you tell me how you did it?
First I made a very rough select with the Lasso that included all the sky, then I used Select->Color Range in Sampled Colors mode, clicking on lots of different places in the sky with the + eye dropper. I had the Fuzziness set to 45 and didn't bother to change it, which resulted in some blue edging around a few branches that I had to manually remove. I just repeated the selection with Fuzziness set to 70 and had better luck. (This is infinitely easier to do with a digital capture than a film one.)

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focal plane of my clouds are at an upward angle - trying to miss all of those damn buildings
Perhaps a really tall tripod? ;) I maintain a large and growing collection of sky shots that I snap whenever I'm in a low horizon place with an interesting sky. I generally take several of the same sky at different focal lengths while I'm at it. Excuse to take a trip out to the sticks if you live in a big city? You can always add the smog afterwards in Photoshop... ;)

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And yes, I have felt that Mother Nature is admonishing me for trying to fake it.
Actually, I have it from a reliable source that she very much appreciates our efforts and will try to do better in the future. It's just that right now she has to juggle all this global warming business, which apparently takes away from her ability to optimize for aesthetics.
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andyptak
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2007, 12:05:14 PM »
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Dale - you didn't use Extract at all? Have I just been doing this the long way?
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2007, 12:57:08 PM »
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No, I didn't use Extract. In fact, I've never used Extract before and have no idea what it's good for.
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andyptak
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2007, 01:11:44 PM »
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Yikes! I'been doing this the hard way, I guess.

The Extract command lets you paste in an area that is to be "extracted" from the shot. You can the move your second shot into this "extracted space". It leaves ragged edges though, where the two shots join and I find I do a lot of cloning along the seam to fix it. That's why I asked about your trees, because removing the original sky using Extract means I have to follow the tree line, usually along the horizon. The seam between that and my new sky isn't perfect so I usually clone the foliage and add more of it to cover up the ragged edges.
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2007, 01:19:47 PM »
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OK: thanks for the Extract info; think I'll stick to Select Color Range.

Incidentally, after I've created a Color Range selection of just the sky, I press Delete to clear the sky area, then save the selection in case I need it later, then turn it of, then slip the sky image as a layer under the main image, then drag it into position.
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andyptak
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« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2007, 01:45:38 PM »
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I think you're right Dale. I'm trying your way from now on.  Shouldn't have wasted my money on those Photoshop books, I guess!

Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it.
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mpdillon
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2007, 03:15:12 PM »
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The technique I use is based on Masks. Will Hammond put together a PDF that I follow.

http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00If3t

Scroll down the page till you see link in blue(Nov 23, 2006 at 10:23 PM).

I found it very helpful and easy.
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