Dec 16, 2013

How to Recover Detail from Sky

Selecting Out Your Subject

In this tutorial we show you how to use the Pen Tool to cut out your subject. Using the Pen Tool can seem a bit daunting but you can see how easy it can be. We are able to cut the subject out of the background in less than one minute! The key is knowing how detailed the selection has to be.

Once we have the subject cut out we can use that selection to enhance the sky behind him. We use the Clone Stamp tool as well as Levels to change the color of the sky as well as bring more information into the highlights.


One of the easiest ways to fix an exposure is to use the Highlights/Shadows command in Photoshop. It is a great way to start your editing process and you can see the results of your sliders live. The best part about this tool is that there is no “right answer”, it is based purely on taste.


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    Spencer Payne

    Awesome! I have noticed sometime problems with “Halo-ing”. Awesome way to fix it.

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    Leah Manzari

    Yay! Thank you so much for working on my image! That was super fun to watch 🙂
    This image is a composite but just to get the best pose from both my uncle and his dog. The sky is not composited. I’m not really sure how/why the halo got there. Probably me just being sloppy and brightening up his face last minute with an adjustment brush in Lightroom… Can’t wait to go in and make these adjustments myself and get my relatives a new and improved version! Thank You! Phlearn rocks 🙂

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    Alex Hochstrasser

    Instead of doing a Shadow/Highlights adjustment you could also open the image in camera RAW from File Open -> select your image -> before hitting open you can change the “Format” dropdown menu from JPEG to camera RAW and it will open in camera raw. It’s nice if you don’t have LR or don’t have JPEGs to open in ACR by default. I find that ACR accomplishes the same tasks as shadow/highlights but doesn’t leave me with so much haloing.

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    Sir Claudius

    I saw the icon Aaron… You’re using Vuze…
    And we know what for !
    Really great episode !

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    Hi. I struggle with bright and colorless skies, so this was really helpful for me. Thank you.
    I have heard you mention in a few videos how you like to add or see color in the shadows. In this tutorial, you added yellow to the highlights and blues to the shadow area. I was hoping to learn more about the thinking behind this and how/why you chose blue for the shadow areas.
    Thanks, again. Your tutorials are remarkably helpful. Cheers!