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Photoshop Elements >

Combine Two Photographs >

3 - Situation #2 - Plain Sky

If you're a National Geographic photographer, you can wait for a great sky.

If you're not, use Photoshop Elements.

Two Photographs

You'll need two photographs:

• A scene with a plain sky

• A great sky

Somewhat Similar

Typically, the two photographs should have somewhat similar:

• Time of day.

• Light.

• Weather.

• Season.

A sunny-day sky will look surreal above an overcast-day landscape.

Easy Does It

Same Size

The two photographs should be the same size.

That is, taken with the same camera at the same quality settings.

If they're the same size, you won't have to resize one of them.

A Well Defined "Top"

Of the Scene Photograph

For your first attempt, don't choose a scene photograph that'll be hard to select.

Good Top

For example, a scene photograph with a mountain range has a good "top."

It'll be easy to make a selection of the plain sky above the top of the mountains.

Bad Top

Let's say your scene photograph is a marina full of sail boat masts.

The plain sky may be hard to select with all of those masts in the sky.

Use an easier photograph.

Be to check off as you go along.


1) Open the scene photograph.

If you haven't already done so, go to Preserve Your Original File.

2) Create a Background copy layer.

If you haven't already done so, go to Create a Background Copy Layer.

Select the Plain Sky

3) Select the plain sky in the scene photograph.

If the sky is easy to select, use the Quick Selection tool.

Flip the Selection

4) Go to Select > Inverse.

The selection will flip from the sky to the foreground.

If you haven't already done so, go to Flip the Selection.

Add a Mask

5) Add a mask to the Background copy layer

Do the following.

a) Make sure the foreground color is black, and the background color is white.

If you haven't already, go to Foreground & Background Colors.

b) Create a layer mask.

In the mask:

• The sky will be black.

• The foreground, the area that was selected, will be white.

Place the Sky Photograph

6) Make sure the Background layer is active (highlighted).

7) Go to File > Place, navigate to the sky photograph, and double click it.

The sky photograph will appear above the Background layer in the layers stack

8) Click the green check mark to accept the placement.

Fine Tune the Sky Layer

The sky may not look realistic, i.e., match the scene below.

Exposure & Contrast

You can adjust the exposure and contrast of the sky layer using a Levels adjustment layer.

Do the following.

1) Make sure the sky layer is active (highlighted).

2) Create a Levels adjustment layer.

3) Press Ctrl + g (PSE 15: Ctrl + Alt + g) to group the Levels adjustment layer with the sky layer.

Because the Levels adjustment layer is grouped with the sky layer, the adjustments you'll make will only be done to the sky layer.

If you haven't already done so, go to How to Group.

4) Double click the icon in the Levels adjustment layer to return to the Adjustments panel.

5) Adjust the exposure and contrast.


If the color of the sky layer isn't good, use a Photo Filter adjustment layer.

The Warming Filter (81) adds warmth.

To cool the color of the sky, use Cooling Filter (82).

Adjust the color correction with the Density slider.

Follow the steps above, but create a Photo Filter adjustment layer.

Saving the Photograph

If you haven't already done so, go to Saving Files.