Posted for evaluation. Why is the sky so nasty? These images where shot at high noon with a polarizer. Is there a way to "clean up" the sky. Keep in mind also these have already been processed in post and I'm happy (enough) with skin tones. But the skies man, the skies. So green. My guess is Rayleigh scattering coupled with pollution. Any thoughts? alt text alt text

  • \$\begingroup\$ P.S. I love the depth of field on the second shot. Fantastic. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2010 at 0:54

2 Answers 2


Under Rayleigh scattering the sky will look greener and then yellower the closer you get to the sun, however with the sun high in the sky I don't think that's what is happening here. I think pollution is a more likely cause, especially as it seems to exist close to the horizon. Filters (polarizing/UV) may make the sky a darker, richer tone, I'm not sure they would change the hue, though I suggest you try filtering if you have one to hand.

The white balance in the images is fairly warm, which looks good for the skintones but will always give a yellower sky than a cool balance. To maintain the skintones you can always adjust the hue of just the sky by a selective colouring tool in post, or boost the saturation of the blue primary in raw conversion.

Hope you don't mind me editing and reposting the images, but here's the original first image, cooled down slightly:

cooled down

And here's the original image with just the cyan tones shifted toward the magenta end of the spectrum in Photoshop:

cyans shifted

And finally just to show you how far you can go with selective colour adjustments, here's the original image cooled down with the sky shifted and the grass made to look a little bit more alive!

totally butchered

Finally, the second image seems to display lens flare on the right hand side, is it a crop from a larger image? If not I don't know where the flare is coming from as you're not shooting that close to the sun. edit It's probably just something white floating close to the lens, thus totally out of focus.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The sun seems to be coming from above and slightly behind the camera. It looks to me like this would have to be a tiny crop from an almost insanely wide-angle shot for that to be flare. I've vote for something else like somebody's sleeve sticking in front of the lens. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 3, 2010 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well that's what I thought. DOF is not consistent with a crop either. I'm going to blame a piece of wondering fluff in front of the lens :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Nov 3, 2010 at 19:09

A polarizer has its greatest effect on the sky around 45 degrees away from the sun. If you look at the sky on a clear day, the part of the sky that's already the deepest blue is also the part that's going to be deepened the most by a polarizer. If you look when the sun is nearly overhead, you'll notice that next to the horizon, the blue fades to almost neutral gray.

These shots have the sun almost straight overhead, but the part of the sky in the picture is right next to the horizon. At this angle, a polarizer will have only minimal effect on the color of the sky.


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