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Creating this Surreal Teal Sky in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

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I took this shot just through the window on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I achieved most of the effect straight from Lightroom. I then imported it to Adobe Photoshop for a few final tweaks and to add the text.

Before / After:


1- Adjustments in Lightroom

Don’t afraid to play around in Lightroom and to really push some settings to arrive at stunning results. Most of today’s camera take photos that have so much information in each pixel that it’s easy to push the limits:

  • My picture straight out of camera could have benefited from a little more exposure, so I increased Exposure in Lightroom to +0.63.
  • I then increased Contrast way up to the maximal value of +100.
  • To add even more contrast, this time in the mid-tones, I also increased the Clarity setting to the maximal value of +100.
  • I then pushed the envelope a little bit more by increasing my Whites to +20 and decreasing my Blacks to -20.
  • The final and most important adjustment, down in the Hue adjustment under the HSL panel, I decreased the Blue to -45. By decreasing the blues like that, I effectively gave the sky a teal tone.
  • Here’s a recap of the Lighroom settings:

Lightroom settings to arrive at the final photo

  • Now the image is ready for final edits in Photoshop. Right-click on the photo thumbnail at the bottom of Lightroom and select Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop.

2- Cleaning up the image

Since we added so much contrast to the image in Lightroom, all the imperfection are now visible if your lens was just slightly dirty, so let’s clean it up a bit:

  • It’s as simple as using the Spot Healing Brush Tool J and clicking on the imperfections, if any. It’s useful at this point to zoom-in quite a bit to be able to see the details.

3- Adding the text

The text appears to be behind some of the clouds, but it’s really not and it’s as simple to do as it gets:

  • Select the Text Tool J, click anywhere on the picture and type in the text.
  • Now resize it to something that makes sense, and choose a nice font. Here I chose Oswald Bold for a nice and bold style.
  • Also change the text color to an almost pure red, here I used color #FF4200.
  • Now change the blending mode of the text layer to Overlay. This will make the background colors blend with the text in a way that the clouds appear to be floating on top.

4- Centering the text

  • To ensure that the text layer is at the dead center of the image, select the text layer, and Ctrl+Click on the background layer to have both layers selected.
  • With the Move Tool V active and your layers selected, you’ll see alignment options at the top in the tool options bar. You’re looking to click the Align vertical centers and the Align horizontal centers icons. If you hover over the icons and stay still for a second you’ll see a tooltip that’ll show the name of the alignment option.

Et voilà! A beautiful sky from camera to final image in just about 5 minutes.

🌄 Image info:

  • Camera: Nikon D800
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • Shutter speed: 1/500s
  • Aperture: f/10
  • ISO: 100

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