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Blue Skies Lookin’ at Me

When digital cameras became popular many keen photographers picked up a useful hobby: shooting the breeze or the skies or the odd tree. In short, they began to assemble shots that they liked, purely because of their visual appeal. Many of these shots were neve even printed.

These days we face no cost for film nor for processing and printing. Digital is about as free as it can get!

But these odd, attractive shots can have a role in other photography.

Skies are the perfect example: if you have a collection of skies — dotted with clouds of course — you have an armory of shot material that can be used to liven up that special shot, spoilt only by a plain, bland, cloudless view of the heavens.

Newport Beach 3 17.5.jpg

Newport Beach composite.jpg

Newport Sky.jpg

Take the image shown here of a couple sitting on a beachside seat, made with a Sanyo camera. Interesting shot, not least because of its limited colour palette, but missing that extra drama in the sky area.

First, we subjected the shot to some brightening work in software, to lift it. Then we pulled out a sky shot we had seen on a CD of stock images and loaded it up. Selecting and removing the sky area from the couple on the beach shot we then replaced it with the sky shot. The sky was felt to be a little too dramatic for the purpose so it was ‘dimmed’ before the composite image was dropped into the ‘Finished’ bin.

Tricks of the Trade

Sometimes you can help a picture with a lacklustre sky by just a little work in software; select the sky area and darken it or increase its blueness.

This is how we gave the picture of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (shot with an Olympus camera) a ‘push’ by selecting the blue and cyan hues in the original image and increasing their levels of saturation.

Ferry & Bridge.jpg

Ferry & Bridge sky.jpg

Keep looking when you’re out and about for filler shots: not only skies by seascapes as well, landscapes that stretch out to infinity. You never know when a shot can come in handy.

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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