The wet plate collodion process used by 19th century landscape photographers was highly sensitive to the blue light of the sky which meant details such as clouds could not be accurately rendered. Some photographers, like Gustave Le Gray and Eadweard Muybridge solved this “problem” by printing composited images from multiple negatives (an early example of post-production trickery). Timothy O’Sullivan, on the other hand, simply transcended the technical limitation with his angular, graphic skies depicting the alien landscape of the newly acquired American West of the 1860s and 1870s.
It occurred to me that a new technology, Adobe Photoshop, could be brought to bear on the non-problem of the blown out skies of early landscape photographs. The resultant images, where the skies have been erased with content-ware fill, occupy an uncanny valley between photographic realism and fantasy illustration.
ca. 1850, [daguerreotype portrait of an eagle]