A set of Photoshop action sets for you to download and to create fake (!) long exposure streaks of clouds if you only have an even blue sky.


By Joel Tjintjelaar


Over the years I’ve received many “How-to” questions from people who follow my blog and my work. In most cases they can read my free tutorials here on my blog or watch one of my video tutorials, read the eBook I co-wrote with Julia Anna Gospodarou or even attend one of my (online) workshops and mentorships. Still people are looking for ways to make life just a little bit easier. Or, like in this case, to ‘fake’ something, like the long exposure streaks of clouds.

For that reason I’ve decided to share an action set with you, for free, that will allow you to create subtle looking single streaks of long exposure clouds.


Because I’ve been receiving many question, now and in the past, how to create those ethereal looking long exposure streaks of clouds in such a subtle way that they don’t look like unnatural beams of light through the sky. I have to say that I prefer creating long exposure streaks of clouds in-camera with my ND filters, that’s what I’ve done 98% of the times. In only a few instances I’ve decided to create those Long exposure streaks of clouds myself. You see those few examples below. All other photos of mine have real long exposure streaks of clouds.

As you can see they are quite subtle, and that’s what I offer to you with my downloadable set of actions.

Shape of Light VII






Some important notes and instructions before you start using the action set

This week I’m sharing an action set with which you can create fake long exposure single streaks of clouds that you can download here. But before you do that and start using it, first take note of the following;

WARNING: Create a backup for your file first. If you end up messing up your original photo, it’s your own fault. I’ve warned you.

USE WITH CARE AND CONSIDERATION: This action set should be used with the right amount of consideration, common sense and artistic integrity. It’s an action set that features only one small and, unfortunately, also gimmicky part of my self developed method of black and white photography post processing (iSGM). A gimmick that perhaps might give you an incorrect indication of what my black and white processing method really is about. It is a very time consuming method of black and white photography post processing that will enable you to create any black and white (or color) photograph you can envision, without any limitations. It’s not a bag full of senseless tricks, even though this action set might suggest otherwise. The intention of this action set therefore, is for you to be inspired and to create these long exposure streaks of clouds yourself and regard these actions as a source of reference or inspiration. Again, I personally prefer to create long exposure clouds in-camera with the ND filters under the right weather conditions. It’s much more satisfying than creating clouds in post. But if you do create them in post then be subtle about it. The secret behind creating subtle and ethereal looking streaks of clouds is in the number of iterations you need to create them. Instead of creating clouds in one pass, I prefer to create them in multiple passes, gradually increasing the intensity of the clouds. If you want to know more about my black and white photography method of post processing, called iSGM, then check out my new 3.5 hour B&W post processing Speed workflow tutorial that is all about my black and white photography post processing method, or read the 424 pages eBook From Basics to Fine Art – Black and white photography, architecture and beyond, written by me and co-author Julia Anna Gospodarou

– INPUT FILE: preferably a high resolution (anything between 3,000 and 10,000 pixels on the longest side works best) flattened (single layer) TIF file. This action set won’t work if you didn’t flatten the file to one layer first.

OUTPUT: the same resolution, flattened single layer TIF file. Keep this in mind! That’s also one of the reasons you should back up your original working file.

RGB FILES ONLY: This action set only works with RGB files. So if you don’t see any RGB channels in your channel panel, this isn’t going to work.

LOAD SELECTION OF SKY: This action set will only work if you start by loading a selection of the sky first. Of course this action set doesn’t come with a selection of the sky, you have to create that yourself.

WORKS ON COLOR AND BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS: This action set will work on color and black and white photographs.

CLEAR BLUE SKY: This action set will of course work best if you have a clear blue sky (or black and white sky) with no clouds in it.

You can now download the action set HERE but perhaps you want to read the short manual below first, to see what you can do with it, how you do it and what options you have. If you don’t know how to load and install an action set then go to the last section first. Everyone else can safely ignore that last part.  ACTION-SET-FAUX-LE


If you’ve kept in mind the notes in the introduction part and after you’ve initially loaded the action set you will have the following options in the Long Exposure Clouds folder in your Action panel in Photoshop that you can choose from. Just choose one of them, load your sky selection and then hit the play button. If you think the light intensity of the cloud is not enough, then reload your selection again, select the same action and hit the play button once again. That’s all!

LE Cloud Diagonal 1, 2 and 3 – Landscape orientation

These actions are meant for any landscape orientation photo like a 3:2 image. Don’t use it for a square image. Below are the cloud types you will get with those actions.

LE Cloud diagonal 1 – landscape

LE Cloud diagonal 2 – landscape

LE Cloud diagonal 3 – landscape

LE Cloud diagonal, vertical and horizontal for square format images

These actions are meant for square format (1:1) images. Below are the cloud types you will have with the actions number 4 to 8.

LE Cloud diagonal 4 – square

LE Cloud diagonal 5 – square

LE Cloud diagonal 6 – square

LE Cloud vertical 7 – square

LE Cloud horizontal 8 – square


After you’ve downloaded it, go to your action panel in Photoshop (if it’s not visible yet then navigate to Window and activate Actions) and click on the icon on the right and click on ‘Load actions’ and load the Long Exposure Clouds action set.


From now on the action set is loaded and you don’t need to repeat this step again when creating the faux long exposure clouds.

If you want to run the action set then all you need to do is to go to the action panel again and stand on one of the options, load your sky selection first and then hit the Play button. But please read the How To Use it section first.

7 replies
  1. Hanspeter Furter
    Hanspeter Furter says:

    Hi Joel, I just downloaded and installed your action set for the fake clouds. I then loaded an image in PS and made a selection of the sky. Now, when I run one of the actions it makes two copies of the image (as two layers) on top of the base layer and then stops with the message “Der Befehl ‘Auswahl’ ist momentan nicht verfügbar” (engl.: “the command ‘Auswahl’ is not available at the moment”). I am living in Switzerland and use a german version of Photoshop. “Auswahl” in german means “selection” in english. Is it possible that your action set is only working on an english version of Photoshop ? Maybe the action commands are named differently in english than in german ? E.g. the layers in my german PS are named “Ebene 0”, “Ebene 0 Kopie” and “Ebene 0 Kopie 2”. When I try to go manually through the action commands the next error message says “Das Objekt “Ebene Layer 1” ist zurzeit nicht verfügbar (engl. “The object ‘Ebene Layer 1’ is not available at the moment”). It seems that my “Ebene 0 Kopie” is “layer 1” which the software cannot interpret correctly.
    What is your solution to that ?
    Thanks for your help and
    Kind regards from Switzerland
    Hanspeter Furter

    • Joel Tjintjelaar
      Joel Tjintjelaar says:

      Everyone, this is an unsupported action set, created for educational purposes and has only been tested for PS versions with the English language. To make it work for any kind of file, in any size, in any language, with any version of PS, this would’ve taken too much time. What I’ve suggested in one of the answers is to use this action set as an example by analyzing the action steps (preferred) so you understand what it does and why iterations are so important for the subtlety of results or copy the action set so you can tweak it for your specific language/file size/etc. Joel

  2. Jim Graham
    Jim Graham says:

    Hi Joel, just downloaded the actions but cant get them to work. I am using P/S CC 2015. I have followed the procedure as described above but no joy. I am using a 16 bit Tiff RGB file 5000×5000 pixels on a single layer. I have selected the sky then selected the appropriate action then pressed the play button but nothing happens! Any advice?


    • Joel Tjintjelaar
      Joel Tjintjelaar says:

      Jim, unfortunately you’re not the only one having issues with this. Basically it should work but make sure the contrast is high enough to make it visible and also make sure that the streak of cloud is in a part of the image where it can be visible. It’s an action set that is very specific and actually meant as an example to get an idea how it works so you can create those streaks yourself.

    • Joel Tjintjelaar
      Joel Tjintjelaar says:

      Clea, unfortunately not. The action is fixed but it’s easy to create the action yourself by copying the action steps and then change the x,y coordinates of where the clouds have to start and end.
      I hope this doesn’t sound to complicated.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.