Photo Tip – Grey Skies Behind the Home? Make them Blue.

Have you ever been photographing a home and the clouds are right behind the home and there is no spot of blue in the picture? It can be so frustrating especially if it is a great day and there is blue in the sky around and the sun is shining on the house.

front with grey sky  Front with added blue sky

I have a solution – though it takes longer than the quick fix in Photoshop Elements 7.0 – which I am not convinced  works very well, at least for my purpose. I have tried the quick fix for skies, but have found two problems. 1. The blue that is inserts is a weird blue, especially for Colorado skies. 2. If there is no grey or color in the clouds it doesn’t add any color.

The process, I recommend, can take a little while in Photoshop especially if there is a tree or other vegetation that is above the roof line of the home. I think it is well worth the time to get it looking right.

sky shot    First, take a few pictures of the blue sky around the area that day. Make sure to include clouds  – it will be more convincing when incorporated into the picture of the home.


Once you have downloaded your photos, take your sky shot and the house shot into Photoshop Elements.

Click on the “Magic Wand Tool” on your tool bar and holding down the “shift” key click the magic wand in the sky areas around the top of the home. If it grabs too much of the background, you can click “Ctrl Z” and undo the last capture. This creates a masking area, so that when you use the clone tool it will not put clouds in any other areas of the photograph outside of those masked areas.

Once you have all of the sky selected – click over to the sky photo.

Select the “Clone Stamp Tool” on your tool bar.  You can adjust the size of the circle to capture more of the sky at once.

Then set you clone stamp on an area of the cloud you wish to chose and select “Alt” then click the Left Mouse Button. This selects that area of the cloud photo.

Now click back to the photo that has the sky area selected and go to the area of the sky that is about the same distance from the side as where you clicked the cloud photo. Now hold down the Left Mouse button and start drawing across your photo.

It sometimes takes a while to get the clone tool lined up correctly between the two photos, but it will eventually work.

Next you want to click on the “Magic Wand Tool” and click on the photo again to remove any selection. If there is still a lot of white in the trees, you can use the same technique to capture the white spaces and use the clone tool again. It is important to get rid of as much white amongst the branches as you can because if you don’t it will be obvious that you have altered the photo – and we don’t want that do we?

If you try this and have some questions, please feel free to contact me here.

2 comments on “Photo Tip – Grey Skies Behind the Home? Make them Blue.

  1. leaannbrown says:

    Again, Great information Carol. I’ve got to learn how to do that in photo shop. That’s a great tool. You may have to post something about how to takea photo of a house when there’s haze day after day. Our skies have been so odd with all of this smoke.

    • cgrape says:

      It is difficult with the hazy smoky skies we had. One thing that helps if you have to be far away from the subject – i.e. photographing the mountains is to use the automatic contrast correction button under “Enhance” in photoshop. It can’t get rid of all the haze but is does help clarify the image a bit.

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