How to Create Clouds for Your Fine Art Long Exposure Architectural Images in Photoshop

It is fairly easy to create realistic looking clouds for your Long Exposure (5 minutes) Architectural image. Here is the image I started with.


Step 1:  Begin by creating a new layer above your image. Next fill it with Black.


Step 2:  Now you are going to create white streaks on your black background. To do this use the brush tool and choose a “0” hardness brush. You will need to size the brush according to your specific image size. Now draw a few streaks across the black background. Keep them all going in the same direction. The number of streaks is a matter of judgement and is different from image to image and is an aesthetic choice.


Step 3:  Now go to the Menu “Filter” “Blur” “Motion Blur”. Choose a direction that most suits your clouds. Then I usually slide the distance to the maximum of 2000px. Sometimes I even do this step twice. Once again this is an artistic decision and must be made by you.


Step 4:  Now to the Menu and choose “Filter” “Blur” “Gaussian Blur”. You again must make an artistic decision on how much blur you want. Once again, I sometimes do this twice.


Step 5: Once you have done that change the “Blending Mode” to Lighten. This will allow only the light areas (clouds) of this layer to show.

You at this point can move the clouds to where they look the best. You can also “Fee Transform” them to make them smaller, larger, elongated or compressed to help create the look you want. If the clouds are too dominant you can turn down the opacity.


Step 6: If you have created a Mask of the sky you can now use is to mask your clouds so they only appear in the sky area and not on you building.


I hope you find this tutorial helpful. Thanks for taking the time to visit with us at North Lights Studio.

Here is the Final Image.


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