The Sky Is No Limit with Lightroom

April 16, 2010

Photo Tips, Video Podcast

Skies are often a challenge for photographers. If we expose properly for the ground, skies often get light and washed out. If we expose properly for the sky, the ground gets too dark. If we use a graduated neutral density filter, the whole sky gets dark as well as any upright parts of the ground. If we use a polarizing filter, it only works at certain angles to the sun, plus it cuts light to the sensor.

Lightroom comes to the rescue. The Develop Module in Lightroom offers some excellent tools on getting better skies, starting with Vibrance. Vibrance is an interesting slider that affects saturation differently than the Saturation tool, generally in a much gentler way. But it affects blue skies dramatically — be careful with it, though, or skies can get a garish color.

Often what is needed is a darker sky. With blue skies, that is really easy with the “magic button” of the HSL group of sliders. This is actually the targeted adjustment tool, but could there be a duller name?! When you click on the small target-like icon in HSL, you activate your cursor. You can then change the saturation, hue and brightness (luminance) of sky color by clicking and dragging on the sky itself! It truly can be that easy and I show you how in the video you see here.

You can also learn a lot about Lightroom workflow quickly and inexpensively through my Lightroom workflow videos available at

[Editors note: As you may have noticed we are now using YouTube for our videos. This will offer a number of benefits, including High Definition options (click on the little 360p menu once the video starts playing), and additionally you will be able to view the videos on the iPhone and iPad. Hope you enjoy the videos, and if you do, you may consider subscribing to our video podcast to download this and many other instructional videos.]

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This post was written by:

- who has written 27 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Rob Sheppard is the author/photographer of over 30 books, the editor-at-large for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and a nationally known presenter and workshop leader. His specialities are nature photography and helping photographers with digital technologies from getting the most from small sensors to Lightroom to Photoshop. Check out Rob’s websites at and

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2 Responses to “The Sky Is No Limit with Lightroom”

  1. Dave Dugdale Says:

    Great stuff Rob, thanks.


  2. Randy Says:

    Wow Rob! Very top-tier info! Tanks so much for your simplicity. I learned! Woohoo!


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