How to use Color Channels in BlendIf for Stunning Sunsets

Beautiful sunset color is critical to great photographs. It’s what sets your image apart from so many other others. I believe it’s so important that I dedicated an entire chapter of my blending course to getting great color.

There are many tricks for getting great color, but one of my favorites is to couple an adjustment layer with BlendIf. It’s quick, leaves your options open to easily make changes later, and it keeps your files smaller than using layer masks. Combined with the right adjustment layers, BlendIf can create gorgeous sunsets.

In this tutorial, you’ll see several examples of how you can use BlendIf with solid color layers, HSL, contrast-enhancing curves, and brightness layers to extract more color and detail from this sunset cityscape. Part 1 shows the workflow to process the image in Photoshop. Part 2 then explores why using the color-channels in BlendIf is so powerful for enhancing sunrises and sunset.

Tips for getting the most out of BlendIf:

  • Adjust the slider for the “underlying” layer. Do not use “this” layer when applying BlendIf to adjustment layers.
  • Once you find the approximate shadow or highlight slider positions, hold <alt/option> to split the sliders and create a more natural result.
  • To target sunset colors, try bringing up the red shadow slider (instead of using the gray sliders).
  • If you want to further target sunset colors, try bringing down the blue highlights slider. The added benefit here is smaller and this is something you can safely skip, but it’s a nice trick when you want to really tweak the results.

Be sure to also see Color Grading with BlendIf.


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