Despite the stereotypical rich blue skies that you’d expect to follow snow, often the sky will be somewhat duller then you hoped for. While it’s snowing, or just before, the sky will often be a wash of white, which is barely salvageable even using a neutral density graduated filter. Instead we can add a gentle grey or coloured grad in Photoshop, not to retain detail, but to contain the image and draw the eye back into the centre of the shot. Here’s how it’s done.
Open up your image and then go to the Layers palette – if you can’t see it go to Window>Layers to bring it up. Now click on the Create a New Layer icon which looks like a piece of paper with a folded corner. This will create a blank layer called Layer 0 – we’re going to put our grad on this. To get a realistic blend when we add the grad, click where it says Normal at the top of the Layers palette and select Multiply from the drop-down menu.
With the new layer active, select the Gradient tool – it may be hidden under the normal Paint Bucket tool, so click and hold this if you can’t find what you’re looking for. From the Options bar at the top of the screen, click the Linier Gradient icon and then click on the triangle next to the gradient preview. Select the second pre-set in the menu – it’s called Foreground to Transparent.
Next, pick a colour for your gradient by clicking on the foreground colour swatch towards the bottom of the toolbox. This will bring up the Color Picker window and you can use the slider on the right, in conjunction with colours in the large box, to find a nice shade. A light grey tone with a hint of blue works well. Try entering these values: R 193, G 204, B 207.
Click OK to return to your image. While holding Shift on the keyboard, click at the top of your image and drag down to the horizon line or as far as you need to go. When you release the mouse the gradient will be added. To finish off you can use the Opacity setting in the Layers palette to reduce the strength of the effect.