Advanced Editing

Replacing a washed out sky in a photo

Written by Gail Bjork

When the sky is washed out in a digital photo, here is how to edit and replace it with a new one. We give you some free sky photos too so you can practice the technique.

A sky can be washed out even in an otherwise properly exposed picture. With an image editing program that supports layers, you can add sky back into the photo. This technique works best when there is strong contrast between the sky and the subject. Like most editing techniques, this is only one approach to sprucing up washed out skies.

Original

Original

Final

Final

How to add sky to a photo

  1. Open your photo in an image editing program.
  2. Open an image of a sky in a separate window; select and copy it to the clipboard.
  3. With a Magic Wand selection tool, click on the washed out sky area until it is completely selected.
  4. Go to the edit menu and select Paste Into (or similar command). The sky will be placed as a new layer precisely into the selected area.
  5. If desired, use the Move Tool to change the placement of the sky.
  6. You can also edit the sky as you do any layer, such as scaling(resizing it) and changing its opacity.
  7. Save the layers as a JPEG file.

Adding skySky added

Want to try it yourself?

Download free images of skies >

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.