The Sky Gradients

One evening in December 2021, I was out with the family for a walk at sunset when we noticed the amazing colours in the sky. I had been taking photography more seriously for a while now, so wished I was at a great location instead of just wandering through a housing estate. Nevertheless, I hadn’t long had my Sony Xperia 1 III and so took the opportunity to take a quick snap of the sky to capture the moment.

A few weeks later, in the second week of January, a similar thing happened. This time there was a really interesting cloud formation accompanying the colours. Again, probably just because I had a relatively new phone, I took my Sony out and snapped a couple of quick photos. But staring at the sky that evening, I suddenly realised that I was looking at one of the best gradient compositions I’d ever seen.

I love a good gradient, and I especially love a good gradient wallpaper. I’d often admired other designer’s compositions, but never thought of designing anything myself because, well, colour matching has never been my forte. But, I thought, these were God’s colours. So I surely can’t go too far wrong! Excited by this new creative avenue, I opened up the camera app again and took a little more time to capture the sky with the Sony’s manual settings, just to make sure I was getting best dynamic range.

Amazingly, we were then treated to a run of five nights where the sunset did something different every time. Sometimes there was a progression of blues, the next night the sky would look like it was on fire, then we’d get a range of pastels. Fueled by fresh inspiration, I merrily captured each one. I really wanted to get at least ten possible options, but after that week it took me until July to feel like I had enough material to start the project.

My original thought was to take the photos and extract lots colours using the eyedropper tool to then feed into a gradient tool in Affinity or Photoshop. I tried both programs, but I found the results extremely underwhelming. All of the subtle textures and shades that I loved about the photos I’d captured were being lost. Maybe this was due more to my skill level than the process, but the results I was getting left me feeling cold.

Thankfully, I decided to try another tack. I went into Lightroom and cranked the clarity and texture slides down. Like, all the way down. This was pretty effective but I knew I’d need to effectively repeat this process multiple times until it wasn’t obvious that you were looking at a photograph, rather than a piece of digital art. It was at this point I realised that I was aiming for something squarely in the middle. My inspiration levels rose again, and I took my favourite image of the lot and brought it into Photoshop.

I don’t quite know how I ended up with the process that I did. Like everything else I do, I assume it came from a lot of Googling, YouTube videos, trial, and error. But eventually I settled on a process I could replicate and control the final results. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll share my steps in a separate post.

And…voila! Here are The Sky Gradients. A collection of ten 6K wallpapers that you can choose from to your heart’s content when you want to experience a bit of natural colours. I really hope you like them, and if you do, I’d be very thankful any contribution you feel appropriate!

The Sky Gradients Pack