Mike Kelley's Ultimate Sky Library

Royalty Free Raw Photographs for Sky Replacements

With Mike Kelley

Produced by Fstoppers

Mike Kelley teaches nine educational lessons on how to replace the sky in almost any photograph. In addition, anyone who purchases the tutorial will have royalty-free access to use over 200 raw sky image files provided with the download.

This video tutorial includes
  • 3 Hours of content
  • 9 Lessons with 6 working files to follow along
  • Over 200 raw sky files available for use
  • Royalty free license

Replacing Boring Skies Has Never Been Easier!

Let's face it: one of the most difficult challenges we battle as photographers is having the weather cooperate with us on the day of our shoot. Wether you are a full-time professional photographer shooting commercial work, a part-time photographer capturing weddings, or even a beginner just photographing landscapes for fun, great weather with the perfect sky can either make or break your final images. But what do you do when the sky in your photos is less than ideal or flat-out dismal? If you can afford it, you can always reshoot the scene another day, or you can take control of the situation by replacing the sky with the perfect amount of clouds and sunshine!

Learn to replace skies in landscapes, portraits, architecture, and more!



In this tutorial, accomplished fine art and architectural photographer Mike Kelley shares his techniques on how you too can easily replace any boring sky in Photoshop with more dramatic clouds and sunsets quickly and seamlessly. With Mike's guidance, you will be able to easily turn any cloudless blue sky into a beautiful, partially cloudy afternoon. Was your entire week of shooting ruined by rain and overcast skies? No problem, Mike will show you how you can blend soft sunsets or even bright sunny afternoon skies into your less than ideal final images.

The Raw Sky Library

Not only will you get nine video lessons with Mike showing you how to seamlessly mask new skies into any photograph, but perhaps the most valuable part of this download is the raw sky library we've included for you to use in your own work. Mike has taken thousands of images of skies over the course of his career. This amazing sky library includes some of the most beautiful weather patterns captured around the world, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand. We've culled through them all and have narrowed them down to the absolute best and most useful 225 files. This entire sky library has been conveniently sorted into different times of day and different levels of cloud cover to give you a sky to fit any situation. 

This download contains over 200 high-res raw sky images

With the purchase of this download, you will receive over 200 high-resolution raw files that you can use royalty free in your own work. These images are organized by time of day and amount of cloud cover so that you can find exactly the type of sky you need for your own sky replacements. If you need clear skies, we have them. Dramatic sunsets? No problem! Peaceful, partially cloudy midday skies? Yes, we have included those as well. Since each of these sky photographs are between 24- 50 megapixels, not only do you have super-high-resolution files for your largest projects, but you can also crop, stretch, and zoom in on any section of the sky to make your composites even more unique. Best of all, when this tutorial is purchased through the Fstoppers store, you will receive a perpetual royalty-free license, so you can instantly begin using these sky replacement files in both personal and commercial work 100 percent legally!

Every raw file can be fine-tuned to match the color and tone needed in your own images

What's Covered in the Lessons

Mike Kelley's Ultimate Sky Library isn't just a collection of beautiful sky files. You will also receive nine unique lessons that will help you learn to master sky replacements no matter what your current skill level. In the first few lessons, Mike starts off with some of the easiest masking techniques to help those who are new to Photoshop get up and running quickly. As each lesson progresses, Mike begins to build up to some of the most complex masking and blending techniques he uses daily in his own high-end architectural and commercial work. Each of these lessons includes all the files needed to follow alongside as Mike works through his edits in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Below is an outline of some of the blending and masking tools Mike uses throughout this tutorial.

Lesson 1

Mike combines a foreground from Iceland and a sky from Charleston, SC while teaching basic color-matching and masking techniques in Photoshop. This lesson is aimed at helping you blend skies quickly and easily while understanding the fundamentals of layer masks.

Each lesson includes all the working files so you can follow along

Lesson 2

In this lesson, Mike introduces the "blend if" mode and shows how it can save a lot of time when trying to mask out and replace a sky quickly with minimal effort. This chapter also explores replacing skies in portraiture and wedding photography.

Lesson 3

The complexity of this lesson ramps up as Mike explores how channel masking works. Throughout this lesson, Mike continues to refine and explore some of the finer masking techniques needed to replace a boring sky against a complex Manhattan skyline. 

Lesson 4

Mike combines multiple replacement techniques in this lesson as he faces a much more challenging setting. In this lesson, Mike introduces the pen tool and shows how you can make sky replacements look more realistic when dealing with translucent surfaces, reflections, and complex tree lines.

Lesson 5

To show how powerful sky replacements can be for commercial work, Mike takes a dull, cloudy scene and transforms the images into a bright and sunny afternoon. This section is aimed at helping photographers tackle difficult shooting conditions while still delivering final images your clients have come to expect regardless of the weather.

Lesson 6

Chapter 6 finds Mike challenging himself to edit a JPEG of a dull, blue landscape and transform it into a spectacular sunrise picture. In this lesson, Mike shows how you can turn horizontal photos into vertical photos by expanding your canvas and increasing the amount of dramatic sky shown in the final composition.

Lessons 7-9

For the final sections of the tutorial, we wanted Mike to mix it up a bit. In these last three lessons, Mike edits three of his own portfolio images to show you how he creates the beautiful and seamless sky replacements he is known for in his commercial work. While these lessons do not include workalong files, our hope is that you will be able to take all of the tips and tricks Mike has taught throughout the tutorial and understand how he applies them in his own work.

In the final lessons, you will watch Mike edit a few of his most well known images

With the Purchase of This Tutorial, You Get

  • 3 Hours of Video Content (4K high-res videos)
  • 9 Lessons
  • 6 Working Files to Work Side By Side With Mike
  • 225 High-Res Raw Files of Every Type of Sky
  • Royalty-Free License to Use in Your Own Work

Topics Covered in This Tutorial

  • Understanding Simple Masking
  • Creating and Using Luminosity Masks
  • Mastering Selections
  • Creating Gradient Masks
  • Making Precise Masks With the Pen Tool
  • Feathering and Fine-Tuning Mask Selections
  • Using the "Blend If" Options in Photoshop
  • Matching Lighting With Natural Replacement Skies
  • Maintaining Constant Color Throughout a Sky Replacement
  • Blending Skies in Water, Reflective Surfaces, and Translucent Materials
  • How to Use Color Filters to Tie Everything Together
  • Making Realistic Masks Around Trees and Complex Horizons

Meet Your Instructor

About Mike Kelley

Michael Kelley (mpkelley.com) is a Los Angeles-based architectural and fine art photographer with a background in digital art and sculpture. Using his backgrounds in the arts, he creates images that are surreal and otherworldly, yet lifelike and believable. A frequent traveler, Michael's personal work focuses on the built environment of unique

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32 Comments

Jeremy Lusk's picture

Sounds like a good resource. What’s the resolution like on the RAW files?

Patrick Hall's picture

Most everything was shot at 24 - 50 megapixels. Most are off the D850 and the Canon 5Ds

William Howell's picture

Do the skies vary in focal length?

Thomas Logan's picture

I believe I read or heard most are wide, but possibly different FL's. But, don't quote me on that. : )

Looks awesome

Christopher Eaton's picture

Are we all supposed to be okay with replacing skies now and passing them off as photographs and not photo art in non-commercial cases?

Joseph Costa's picture

I'm totally okay with replacing skies in photographs. There are lots of schools of through revolving around that and your entitled to your opinion but yes I'm fine with it.

Patrick Hall's picture

Each person has their own ethics with it and it varies heavily with landscape photography and real estate photography, BUT, in the commercial and fine art world no one cares and that's who this is mostly aimed towards. Most of us don't have an issue replacing skies at all but if asked I would always admit to it if someone was curious.

Christopher Eaton's picture

I totally understand replacing skies in commercial photography, but I have plenty of fine art customers who specifically want to know if that is what I experienced. The experience of the scene is what helps sell the print often times. If you talk about the experience of the scene to sell it and you replaced the sky, you are lying to the customer. Even if nothing is said, you are still lying to the customer, because most of them do care.

As for each person having their own ethics, isn't that how we ended up with a corrupt White House these days?

There is always the "purest" among us - lol. So I guess you don't use polarizing or ND filters because you know - that's not what you "experienced" right? I guess you just sell all your images as straight out of camera because that's what you experienced? Only shoot on days where the sky is full of clouds but not too much so you can see that clear blue sky in the background? Give me a break...If someone is purchasing a photo as fine art to put on the wall the last thing they are going to tell someone is "Yeah I bought this image because that's what the photographer "experienced" - LOL!

Jordan LaFrance's picture

It's funny that he mentions "experience" though. I attribute the experience of a photograph as a combination of what I saw and felt. This is exactly why we replace a sky and paint with light, to achieve the feeling we had while we were there.

Some people may need to replace a sky for a commercial shot as requested by an art director / client, to make the shot more dynamic and fit in with the visual narrative. these tend not to be particularly fine art photographers. Even in fine art landscapes it's common to remove distractions, so let's not be too pious and pick our battles accordingly… at the very least, a thorough eductaion on how to acheive these looks using correct techniques is the most valuable aspect of this series.

Christopher Eaton's picture

Removing small distractions is not the same thing as total sky replacement in landscape and fine art photography. One is cleaning up the visual presentation while the other is a complete lie and fabrication.

Joseph Costa's picture

I honestly think this is too much money to spend on replacing skies. I have done it in some of my photos in the past, however, it isn't a good enough asset to charge $300 for. It is useful and has a place but at a price point of $100 not $300. I understand you have put a-lot of effort into compiling these resources for us but $300 is way too high. I can justify it for other F-Stoppers tutorials but not this one sorry guys. If you reduced the price to $100-$150 then I'd consider it.

Herman Schumacher's picture

Anything you can learn from Mike is going to be worth the money, no doubt about that but i also think this shouldn't be the same price of a WAMA tutorial.
I was expecting the 99$-149$ price tag on this one.

Andrew Leman's picture

You're also getting 225 skies to have royalty free. How long would it take you and how much would it cost you to capture 225 different skies? For someone who does sky replacement a lot, this is perfect but I think they should offer the sky library as a separate option for a lower price than the full tutorial. Some people probably just want the library and don't need the lesson.

Michael Jin's picture

Even without the educational part, you're paying less than $1.50 per image that you can use royalty-free. On top of that, they are actually all very good skies. Do you have any idea how long it would take to get 225 decent sky shots representing a variety of different conditions?

This looks like a great tuturial guys! Well done!

+1 on the price. I have every tutorial Mike has made, but this seems a little expensive. I already know how to do great sky replacements thanks to Mike in the first 3 tutorials.

I bought all your tutorials from Mike and Elia, they are awesome, however I found this new one too expensive as well, maybe a discount more than $50 for your good clients will be appreciate:)

Good day to all

Seems a little spendy for this one.

Michael Kormos's picture

What's the focal length that these were shot with? To look believable, the focal length should generally match that of the photo they're replacing (24mm sky has a completely different appearance than a 85mm sky).

William Howell's picture

I think it is essential to replace the sky in a portrait and of course architecture or real estate. If you don’t do something about a crap-ass sky, it becomes a big distraction.

Hope you have a sale coming up, interested

me too, Dan Bellyk

Celso Mollo's picture

If you don’t want to replace the sky, just don’t buy the god damn thing.
Just admit what you did and the customer will judge it is right or wrong, buy or not, etc...
This course can be a really good thing to understanding and improving masking in photoshop and for that reason Alone I am thinking of buying.

Same here. Hope a sale is coming up. Would purchase now for $150.00....

Thomas Logan's picture

Is it safe to say the Spring sale (May 2019) does not apply to this course?

Just tried the SPRINGFS code for this course and get an "Invalid Promo code" response. It is fist tutorial in the discount list! Please help I don't want to miss this opportunity!

Thomas Logan's picture

Jack, I wrote in and they said the sale DOES NOT apply to this course.

Michael Jin's picture

I really don't understand everyone saying that this is too expensive. This is worth it on the value of the images alone. Obviously, if you're not in the business of doing regular sky replacements, it's not going to make sense. If, however, you are regularly replacing skies, building a collection of images of good quality to use is a royal PITA that takes you away from actually doing the work that makes you money. Frankly, if you're a fine art photographer, you are probably best off finding your own skies because that's also part of the art that you're presenting, but for real estate and architecture photographers, this makes complete sense.

Thomas Bekker's picture

So read it's expensive bla bla bla, but all the skies that are included, are so useful.
If you buy this tutorial it means you actually are a working pro (I won't see this being very useful to amateurs).
If you have an average of 50K revenue, what is 300$ with 200+ skies from different countries, colors, heights, orientations etc ???? I would take me a long time to get some of these.
Sure I do shoot my own skies, but it can be good to get some different variety...
And you still learn a trick or two in PS.

LOVED IT !