Adding clouds or sunsets to a bare blue or white sky without using layers: If a photo has a sky area you do not like, such as a bare blue or white sky, you can add clouds or sunsets to the sky area. This is done by cloning and placing the main photo and the cloud photo in the same window of your editing program. You have to make sure that the cloud photo will match the sky area of the main photo and the direction of the sunlight. You can also use part of the cloud photo to fill the sky area if it fits in better.
This was a famous photo-scenic in Chatham, on Cape Cod, years ago. It was located off the Shore Road near the Chatham Lighthouse. However, the severe storms in the past years have washed away that part of the beach area along with the beach shack and fence. The sky was devoid of clouds, so I cloned them in.
Camera info: Nikkormat, 80 to 200mm Nikon zoom lens, Kodachrome 64 film. Copied original color slide to digital.
Using a fairly large cloning circle, you start cloning the cloud photo at the point where you want it to start in the main photo, usually at the edge of the horizon line, and you clone in the complete cloud image in one sweep, so that if it does not look right you can delete it completely with Alt-Z and start over again until it looks OK. Sometimes you will have to do this routine over and over again. It is easy to do once you master the technique, but it may take some time learning how to do it.
When you are satisfied, you now have to get rid of the telltale areas that shows that you cloned in the clouds, such as where the clouds meet the horizon line, or where the clouds or new sky meets a roof top or tree tops. Here you have to work closely with your cloning tool and clone in the sky color tight against the area it touched. You may have to zoom enlarge the main photo to make it easier to close the gap between the sky and other areas.
Sunsets are handled in the same way as clouds. It is best to have a dozen or so good cloud or sunset photos, so start taking some now.
Chatham Beach Shack with Clouds
The finished product has both the original scene and the clouds from another photograph.
Cape Cod Sand Dune
Most beach areas on the Cape have small sand dunes, and if you find the right angle, you can produce a pleasing photograph. The morning sunlight was nice and warm in color and brought out the golden color in the beach grass, but it had a beautiful blue sky without a cloud in it. Here again, I cloned in the clouds.
Camera info: Canon 300D with 24 to 200mm Tokina zoom lens, set on automatic, and handheld.