You Can't Control Everything During Photo Shoot

Last week, I had a high school senior photo session at the beach in New Buffalo, Michigan.  We were lucky to have 70 degree weather - in October - and the photo shoot was happening during sunset.  Sunset photo shoots generally provide a good chance of success, especially on a beach.  Bringing items such as a reflector, speedlight or strobes help control the lighting variable.  Such tools in a photographer's arsenal brighten a back-lit subject while properly exposing the sky with all the brilliant red, pink, gold, blue and orange colors a setting sun can deliver. There are instances where the conditions in the atmoshpere are not conducive for producing such vibrant skies, or if they do appear it may not last for very long.  Such was what happened this past weekend.  The sunset did produce some interesting colors.  However, the lack of clouds made it relatively monotone - at least to me.  See the image below.

Image of the sunset with Veronica standing on the beach and the 'bland' sky behind her.

I really like the above image I captured of Veronica using a speedlight for fill-light.  Veronica, as the subject, stood out magnificently but the story of the photo felt like it needed a little more.  I searched through my photo catalog looking for cloud images and found one I thought may work.  I started up Photoshop and created a composite image by putting the clouds on a layer that I blended with the screen option and subtracted the selection of Veronica.  Below is a side-by-side image comparing the before and after compositing the images together.

Before and after adding clouds to the sunset portrait.

I was happy with the result because the cloud photo added some blues to the sky and the highlights of the clouds picked up on the actual sky's color because I chose screen blend on the layer.  I also think the sky did not detract attention from the principle subject - Veronica - while the additional clouds added a bit of interest to the story of the of her standing there enjoying the beautiful evening.

The final composite image of Veronica with a sky that complements the story of the image.