How to Quickly Replace a Sky in Photoshop With Multiply Blend Mode

In his latest photography tutorial, noted French photographer (and prolific video tutorial maker) Serge Ramelli demonstrates how to quickly and effectively replace a sky in Photoshop.

As a landscape and cityscape photographer, I'm at the mercy of mother nature. My portfolio is heavily skewed towards dramatic skies — the more fiery clouds, the better. However, as with most things in life, often times things don't go your way. There's nothing worse than planning out a trip to an exotic location only to endure a wall of gray when you arrive. Sometimes, in order to save a shot you need to engage in some post-production wizardry (some would refer to this as "cheating"; I prefer "wizardry").

Compositing a sky is very common. The difficult part is doing it well. As I outlined in a previous article, my method of choice is using luminosity masks. Ramelli uses a combination of the Multiply blend mode, Gaussian blur tool, and simple masks with pretty decent results. Though the final blends he shows in the tutorial lack some realism and have problems with halos and bleed over, with a little more time I have no doubt that these issues can be resolved. Ramelli achieves a good starting point for his blend in a matter of minutes and it's a technique I'll certainly be trying out for my next composite. 

If you're just starting out, it's important to build up a good sky library. Keep your camera with you at all times and start shooting!

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Ben Bezuidenhout's picture


Aneesh Kothari's picture

It's all around us. I prefer the word "composite" over "faketography." Everyone has their line in the sand. Do you utilize any post programs like Lightroom or Photoshop? If so, you're going to hear from the "purists" who do it all in camera. Then you've got the group that talks about how Ansel Adams manipulated his images like crazy in the darkroom. And on and on...

Mike Kelley's picture

It's not quite effective if the result is sloppy

Aneesh Kothari's picture

Agreed. I assume he would spend more time on the blends before publishing a final result. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that he was just showcasing the basic concept for the sake of a short video.

It's just bull. Photography's advantage as an art form is in it's ability to capture the real. Some obvious deviations of this are okay, such as your aeroplane shot, Mike, but deliberate attempts masquerading as reality are just damaging. I wish it could be banned, or highlighted in someway. Perhaps in the future we'll have some way of matching photos against reality, but for now we're stuck with this race to an ever more saturated bottom.

Jonathan Reid's picture

The amount of effort that goes into faking it is crazy.

michael buehrle's picture

that wasn't much effort. the pic looks better.

Jonathan Reid's picture

I was referring to the amount of effort it will take to make it look believable.

Brian Lewis's picture

This is a neat little trick! I don't get why every comment is negative.

Aneesh Kothari's picture

Glad to hear you found it useful!

Brendan Kavanagh's picture

Agreed. I live in the UK and knowing how to replace skies is pretty well essential!