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Transforming a Boring Photo Into a Dramatic One With Photoshop


The mere mention of image manipulation may make some photographers cringe, but there’s no denying that some skill with Photoshop can enable you to completely transform an image. In this 20 minute tutorial, Serge Ramelli walks through the process of manipulating a ‘boring’ image and turning it in to a dramatic one by transforming the lighting and sky in the scene.

The art of landscape photography is one that requires patience, commitment, and hard work. However, there are times when your final image doesn’t quite match the memory you have in your mind. Or, less romantically, maybe you just want to make a more epic image to share on social media.

Whatever your intentions, understanding how to improve the lighting of images with targeted adjustments and how to composite separate images in to a final art piece is a worthwhile skill.

Here is the before and after of Ramelli’s image, which was taken at Saint Paul de Vence in the South of France.

In the video, Ramelli shows how to fully replace the sky of an image and alter the lighting of the scene to match it. He also artificially lights a lamp in the image and creates a glow to bring life to a building that was previously empty and unlit.

The tutorial is broken down in to these parts:

01:25 – How to get the source files
03:05 – Opening images in Photoshop from Bridge
03:36 – Selecting Panorama settings
04:27 – Opening up the Shadows
05:32 – Opening Image in Photoshop as smart object
06:18 – Opening Library
06:26 – Creating a new Library
07:03 – Creating a Sky Library
08:50 – Placing the new sky
10:24 – Make your sky blend with the background
12:48 – Combine Layers (command + alt + Shift + e)
13:29 – Straightening Image
14:32 – Adding Lights
18:10 – Brushing in Light
18:25 – Adding Double Development
21:00 – Final result

If you enjoyed the tutorial, Parisian photographer Serge Ramelli has many more on his YouTube channel, covering a wide variety of topics.

Image credits: Photographs by Serge Ramelli and used with permission.