Fixing Polarized Skies in Lightroom

The strongest effect of circular polarizer is at an angle of 90 degrees to the sun. But when shooting with a wide-angle lens the field of view encompasses an area beyond 90 degrees (and less). This can result in uneven exposure and saturation across a blue sky.

Uneven sky from polarizer

When this happens, you can use Lightroom’s masking tool to reduce the visual impact.

  • Click on the Mask Tool and use a Color Range mask. Selecting a darker tone in the sky.
  • Intersect this with the Sky mask
  • Use the Refine slider to adjust the color range; create a smooth transitional area.
  • Increase the Shadow slider and reduce the Saturation
  • Tweak Exposure, Highlights, Saturation and the color range Refinement.
Color Range mask intersected with Sky mask

Do not get frustrated if you cannot completely remove the dark area, rather aim to reduce the impact of the polarizer.

An alternative techique would be to select a lighter tone Color Range mask intersect with the Sky, darken and increase saturation. This is particularly the approach to take if you intend to darken the entire sky. See the next post.