DevelopLightroom Tips

Quick Lightroom Tip for Richer-Looking Skies

If the skies in your landscape or travel photos look kind of blah and washed out (typical when shooting on some bright sunny days), here’s a quick, simple, and effective way to make your skies look much deeper blue and richer.

Sky1

STEP ONE: Here’s the original image (taken on the island of Santorini, Greece), and the sky isn’t terrible, but it’s that light-blue almost kinda wants to be gray blah sky, and we want to go for something deeper and richer, so start in the Develop Module by clicking on the HSL panel (as shown above).

Sky2

STEP TWO: In the HSL panel, click on “Luminance” (at the top right side of the panel) and then drag the Blue slider to the left and instantly your skies gets that nice deep rich blue. That’s it!

Sky3

Above: here’s a side-by-side before/after in Lightroom, so you can see what a big difference that simple move made. 

NOTE: When you’re dragging that blue slider to the left, keep an eye out for noise in the sky — this technique tends to bring out any noise already in the image, so if you drag too far, you might see some noise start to appear. You won’t see it in every image, but just giving you a heads up that it’s something to keep an eye out for.

There ya go! Hope you all have an awesome Monday, and I hope to see you back here tomorrow. 🙂

Best,

-Scott

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13 comments

  1. Thomas Baker 12 January, 2015 at 17:31 Reply

    Scott – another quick way is under camera calibration, in the blue primary, slide the saturation slider to the right.

  2. Tyler Glover 12 January, 2015 at 15:21 Reply

    Thanks for the great tip Scott! I prefer this technique to increasing the saturation b/c the Luminance slider is decreasing the tone/darkening the color, rather than intensifying it – making it electric.

  3. Matt Sims 12 January, 2015 at 13:14 Reply

    Wow, simple and super helpful. THANKS! Do you have any ideas for tweaking travel photos like portraits to get that Steve Mccurry/National Geographic color and pop?

  4. Paul C 12 January, 2015 at 12:19 Reply

    Do you find that you sometimes also have to pull back on the saturation a touch? I just tried it &, well, we just don’t get skies that blue in the UK!! Reducing saturation sorted it. I also find I have to be really careful with Clarity or it creates funky halos around fine twigs on the trees. Worked really nicely on RAW files but JPG could only handle about -10 before the sky showed signs of banding (though this may be a fault of my monitor). Great tip, though, Scott, keep them coming.

  5. Dave 12 January, 2015 at 12:07 Reply

    One caveat: This technique will affect everything in the image of that color, including water, clothing, etc., so keep an eye on the whole image, not just the sky.

  6. Dennis Zito 12 January, 2015 at 07:47 Reply

    Hi Scott,

    Sorry for a second comment. It appears that my first one didn’t post.

    Excellent Tip! What I generally do is grab the TAT and select a section of sky and drag down. That way if there are any other colors in the sky like Aqua and Magenta, they will darken up as well. Oh, I like the daily tips you and RC are doing! Keep’em coming!

    Dennis

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