Contemporary portraiture often focuses on isolating your subject from the background by having it melt away into a glorious amalgam of colors. However, there are times when your portraits feature a costar; when you want to allow both your subject and the setting to share the stage and perform in concert. Unfortunately, the goal of getting to the right place at the right time with the full cooperation of the elements is often out of your control. Luckily for you, Photoshop provides a great way to work around to this problem and Serge Ramelli demonstrates how you can dramatically upgrade your image by changing the sky.

Note: For this to work you will need an overexposed sky.

Step 1

Choose a new image with a sky you want to use and align it with the horizon on your existing image. After this, you duplicate it by dragging it over the New Layer Icon. To create a mirror image, you can flip it by going to Edit > Free Transform.  After this, you right-click your image and select flip vertical.

Free Transform Shortcut

Use CMD + T

After you’ve created your new layer, you hold Shift and drag it down to create a complete mirror image.

Step 2

Select the two layers that create your mirror image, right-click, and select merge layers. After this, put the layer in Multiply Mode. The result should have your mirrored image blended almost perfectly with your original…almost.

The blend will probably leave areas where the new image is overlayed to strongly and you need to retouch it to make the image look natural.

Step 3

One way to correct the unnatural portions of the blend is the select the areas that need softening and apply a blur. Here are two ways to select portions you want to change.

 Lasso Tool (L) or the Quick Selection Tool (W).

To apply the blur, select the layer with the new sky and selecting Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. For this image, Serge applies a large amount of blur but, you will need to tailor this filter application specifically to your needs.

There may be portions of the image that you need to remove the effect and to do this, you’ll hold Shift while selecting the New Mask icon at the bottom. The mask will need to be Black so you can use your brush to paint with White and reveal the image underneath the filter. If for some reason your mask is not black press CMD + I to turn in black. Select your Brush Tool or press (B) and begin painting. If your brush is not painting white you can switch it to paint black by pressing (X).


This is a great technique that doesn’t take much time to drastically change your image. You will need to have good replacement images on hand to give yourself options but, that could a fun side project all on its own.