After I published the last post, I got a few emails asking me how I took the photo. First of all, I did not take a photo of the sun. The sun just happened (intentionally) to be a part of the photo. You should never try to take a photo of the sun because your eyes and camera sensors will hate you for that. What I did is following: I compose a photo without even looking at the sun. I was well aware it was there but I also knew it’s too bright to even look at it. I focused on the road line and foreground – you can tell that part of a photo is completely in focus. After I had what I wanted in focus, I moved the camera a little bit to left to get the sun in frame.
I knew I need fast shutter speed to get clean lines and nice rays and that’s what I did. I actually took only two shots with the same settings and I liked both but I think this one had better composition. Now, I also knew I wanted the foreground to have the correct exposure; I didn’t want it to be backlit. That’s why I focused on that part of my photo. I knew the sky will be overexposed because, unlike our eye, a camera cannot expose for both the sky and ground. I just hoped Photoshop will do the trick with the sky and it did.
Now, how do you fix overexposed sky (in CS5) to create the uncapturable?
First you open image as a smart object via Camera Raw. Just hold SHIFT key and click ‘Open Image’.
A small icon in left bottom corner will tell you you’re working with a smart object now.
Next, in layer panel, create a new smart object layer via copy. This is important, if you just create another layer, all changes you make to that layer will be made to the original layer as well.
Now, double click on the icon of the copy layer to open it in Camera Raw.
While in Camera Raw, your task is to fix the sky. Drag the Exposure slider to the left until you’re happy with the way sky looks. Also, increase the Recovery, Black, and Vibrance settings. Click OK and go back to Photoshop.
As you can tell, you have two layers now. The bottom one is the original one while the top one is the one you worked on in Camera Raw (darker one). These layers are perfectly aligned.
Final step is to add layer mask to the top layer. Click Option (PC: ALT) and click on Add Layer Mask.
The black layer will appear next to darker layer (the layer will suddenly look lighter). Select hard edge brush and press letter D to change your Foreground paint to pure white.
Now, paint over the layer. Be careful not to cross the sky line (I usually select the sky to prevent over-paining areas I don’t want to paint). As you paint white, the fixed sky will start showing. Finish painting.
Press CTRL+SHIFT+E to blend all the layers and that’s it. Save and enjoy.
If you have any other questions, I’ll be happy to answer it. : )