I Love Photoshop

Seriously. Ever since I was introduced to it in my high school web design class I've been addicted to it. New features are always being added and I do my best to keep up with them but the filters and effects I use have changed very little since 2002. I was able to make this little masterpiece in about 5 minutes and had a ton of fun doing it.

So peaceful...
Ahh... one of my favorite shots of Chernobyl from a rooftop in Pripyat. Look at that clear, blue sky - just begging for a makeover. Let's make a blowout. The first thing we'll need is a dark, dreary sky.

Thanks Google!
There we go. Now, through the simple use of a mask layer we can degrade that sky into something that fits into the Zone just a little better. I'll use a simple gradient filter starting with black so the visibility will start at more visible to less visible starting at top to bottom.

Much better.
Now, we just make sure the mask is applied to the original image and that the gloomy sky is on the layer below so it filters through. 

So natural...
Now I feel at home. Masks FTW. Alright, so now we've got a standard day in the Zone. But, seeing as we're looking at the dead center of the Zone it's still a little too cheery for my tastes. Something wants us dead, I can feel it. BLOWOUT! Let's add a full layer of red above and set it to overlay so we get a nice, red tint on everything.

Rumble rumble...
Uh oh... now you're really fucked! I like what we have here but that was too easy. I'm never satisfied until it's got that little signature effect that sets it apart from everything else.

Nice effect... but it doesn't quite fit here. Stop dicking around. No... something is missing from that sky. Lightning.

Fucking lightning, bitch.
Mmm... cloud-to-cloud lightning, perfect for a blowout. Let's put it between the original shot and the mask so it will show up on the background without overlapping the foreground. Apply the Dodge filter so you still get the gloomy sky in the background and some nice lighting effects on the clouds, move it around a bit and...

BLOWOUT! (click for full-screen badassery)
That'll do. If you feel really ballsy, you could add some nice shaking effects, maybe some more lighting in the sky, some explosions, lens blur, etc - but that will take a lot more tampering. Always remember the acronym KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. Now fucking run!