Cotton Candy Sky (Hoover Dam)

I'll admit that the processing of this intentionally misleads. If you view the original image, you'll see that the original scene was in fact fairly plain.

This is a simple technique I frequently use to emphasize a sky or landscape. If you're a relative newcomer to Photoshop, here's how I go about doing this:

  1. Duplicate your image as a new layer (ctrl-j usually does this). You should now have a new layer titled ‘Background copy
  2. Change the layer blending mode of the duplicated layer to ‘Overlay’
  3. Add a new ‘Channel Mixer’ adjustment layer
  4. Click the ‘Monochrome’ checkbox
  5. Click ‘OK’
  6. Group the adjustment layer with the duplicated background, so it only affects that one layer (ctrl-shift-g usually does this)

That should get you started. Things to play with:

  • The settings in the ‘Channel Mixer’
  • The opacity of the duplicated background layer
  • Use ‘Curves’ or ‘Levels’ adjustment layers to modify the duplicated background layer

As with anything like this, the actual approach taken will always depend on the specific image.