Tip of the Day: Fluffy clouds

In this image I did something different from the norm. Since it was a nice, warm evening, and the light was constantly changing as the clouds moved and the sun sunk lower to the horizon, I’d shot a few dozen images while I was there waiting for the day to end. When I got back to the HQ I decided to take a ten of them to combine so I could do something I call cloud stacking.

Here’s how it works (here I’m assuming you know how blending modes and masking works … if you don’t, I’ll cover these in future posts).

  • First, I picked my images in Lightroom and sent them to Photoshop to load as separate layers (right-click on the in the timeline, select Edit In and choose Open as Layers in Photoshop).
  • I selected all the layers and set the blending mode from normal to screen. And as far as the clouds go, that’s it. That generates the fluffy ethereal clouds I wanted, but it also makes a bit of a mess of the foreground, softening it too much for my liking.
  • Next I picked one of the images to be my master image. I picked the lightest image I had since I wanted as much foreground detail as possible. I duplicated this image a set it as the foreground, then I used a mask to hide the sky on that image and reveal the sky from the screen blended images.

I did do a bit more finessing on the image, working the colors and sharpness a bit, but not that much. Mother Nature did most of the hard work for me!

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