How to use Color Range Mask in Lightroom to create deep blue sky

When using a polarizing filter, you can get a deep blue sky with lots of cloud detail captured. However, if you use a wide-angle lens or – depending on the orientation of the camera relative to the sun – you may have problems shooting. But every problem has a solution.

If you can't use a filter, don't worry: You can achieve a similar effect using Color Range in Adobe Lightroom Classic or Photoshop's Adobe Camera Raw. Here are the steps:

Hands-on images, which you can download here (high quality RAW image format).

Make Basic Adjustments

Before adding the Color Range effect, you should make basic adjustments to get a balanced exposure. In the case of this example photo, we will reduce the highlights (Hightlights) to preserve details in the clouds, increase the blacks (Blacks) to avoid underexposure, and increase the whites (Whites) to get a better look. the overall brightness

Add a Graduated Filter

Using the Graduated Filter (M) will help you to partition the part to apply color adjustment, you can divide the color area vertically or horizontally. Since it is the sky, we will apply the color area horizontally

To make sure this filter has a soft edge, I usually start dragging it from the top of the image until it covers the entire sky. When the Graduated Filter was added, I only wanted to change the blue part of the sky; I don't want the clouds or mountains to be darker, which means I can't reduce the exposure. At this point you can use the Color Range Mask (3) located in the adjustment menu.

Aim for the Blue Sky

After selecting “color” as the range mask, you can use the Color Range Selector (the icon that looks like an eyeliner tool) to select the tone you want to change. In this case the blue tones of the sky. Since the color range can be quite wide from dark to light blue, you can add more gradients by holding down the 'Shift' key and clicking on another color area.

Adjusting the sky

Once the tones are selected, simply decrease the exposure (Exposure) to darken the blue of the sky. If you notice that the changed areas are not affected, you can try to further adjust the color range using the “Amount” slider in the Range Mask settings. Hold down the “Alt” key while adjusting the slider to show the extent of the Mask.