Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Perfect Skies

Posted by larrylohrman on March 13, 2006


A reader from Utah told me recently that one of the problems he was having was that since it’s always so sunny and bright the skies on his home photos would frequently “burn-out” to pure white since he set the exposure so the home was well exposed. I get white skies here in the Seattle but it’s more because the sky usually grey and uninteresting.


An interesting or dramatic sky can add a lot to the image of the front of a home. With a little photo editing there is no reason you have to put up with boring skies. You can either make the skies blue or you can replace them with a sky from some other time and place. The lower photo that has a mostly white sky is a listing from several years ago that had a great view but every time I came to photograph it was not visible. At the time my solution was to combine two photos taken on a different day’s one exposed for the house and one exposed for the sky. I was never really pleased with the result because it still wasn’t very dramatic.

In the March 2004 issue of Photoshop User there was an article called The Real Estate Photographer’s “Perfect Sky” by Scott Kelby and Felix Nelson. The photo at the top of this post is a rework of the lower photo using Kelby and Nelson’s technique. Basically in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop you select the sky with the magic wand and then delete the selection and then make a layer below that has the color of sky you want. You then create a third layer above the sky blue with a darker blue that has a ellipse selection whole with a 50 to 100 pixel feather. The result is seen above; a blue sky with an oval shaped lighter section near the horizon.

Another option than may architectural photographers use is to use a stock sky instead of the pure blue sky. Stock skies are available from sources such as http://www.1000skies.com/ .

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