Photography Tips: How To Darken the Mid Day Sky

Shooting midday can be very difficult, and the following are some photography tips on how to darken the midday sky. During the middle of the day, the landscape is illuminated beautifully but the sky does not appear to be very blue. Many times, getting great color on the images and the blue sky will require some additional work. Different filters and polarizers can be used to help deal with this issue.

Step 1: Graduated Neutral Density Filter

This type of filter is used specifically for landscape photos. This is graduated, as a part of the filter will have neutral density and the other will be clear. This will bring the very bright area into the same dynamic range of the camera sensor. This is frequently used for the sky. These types of filters can have many different graduations, as some will have the filter at the center with clear edges.

Step 2: Blend 2 Photos

It is possible to take 2 photos and then merge them in Photoshop. Take one photo with the correct exposure for the sky, and then the second with the correct exposure for the landscape. Then, blend them together. This way, the correct exposure for both parts of the film is melded, creating the proper exposure on both parts.

Step 3: Pay Attention to the Sun

Think about where the sun is. If you are shooting into the sun, then the sky will not be blue. If your back is to the sun, then blue sky will magically appear on the picture.  This will take care of any of the shadows that will be hiding the actual objects in the shot.

Step 4: Color Filters

Depending on what the colors are in the scene, different color filters can be used. To really darken a sky, a red filter can be used. When shooting in black and white, a green filter can be used to make the sky appear more natural and the leaves stand out from the background.

Step 5: Polarizer

A blue yellow polarizer can be used to get blue skies. It also creates warmer colors for the ground and can easily deal with washed out images. With a polarizer, it is necessary to rotate it until the desired look is achieved. This is easy to overdo, so it may take a few tries until you get the desired result. A polarizer should not be used on wide angle lenses as very odd effects will occur.

Step 6: Editing Software

It is possible to deal with sky color issues in photo editing software such as Photoshop. Enhancements can be used by creating different layers and adjusting the levels. These levels can change the contrast, brightness and color.  By adding more yellow and some red, it is possible to change the lighting from midday to lighting that is found at the end of the day. Look at changing the saturation of the different hues and the color balance of the yellow and red tones. Many times, photographers will also darken the edges of the photograph so that the subject is highlighted. This is easy to so with the feathering tool.