Whether you’re photographing landscapes, cityscapes, or even some street photos, the sky can be a very important element of the image. The presence or absence of clouds, their shape and structure, and the lighting in the sky all come together to convey different moods.
Unfortunately, there’s no fixed schedule for how the sky appears and it is very different to predict how it will be. So, in case it does not do justice to your image(s), replacing the sky in your image is the ultimate approach.
When it comes to replacing the sky in an image, the task is not necessarily an easy one. That’s because there are a lot of variables that you need to consider in the process. You must be well-acquainted with the process of using a mask in Photoshop or other post-processing software, the overall light conditions including the direction of light should make sense, and most importantly it must look realistic.
And if you are someone who’s not very much comfortable with editing tools, this means spending hours in front of your computer. You could be doing something much more creative with that time.
Saving time is what many software is attempting to do and Luminar photo editing is one of them which definitely tops the chart. Developed by Skylum, Luminar AI makes brilliant use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to do most of the heavy lifting thereby making our lives much easier.
While this brilliant piece of software has loads of AI-powered features to help you edit or fine-tune your work, in today’s tutorial we will be having a look at how you can give an edge to your landscape photography with the sky replacement tool in Luminar AI.
AI Sky Replacement Tool
AI Sky Replacement tool in Luminar AI analyzes images, identifies where the sky begins, ends, and then replaces it. The tool works for flat or blown-out skies but can be easily adjusted to work with most skies by refining the sliders. It automatically replaces the sky to create a realistic look with a flat, blown out, natural or blown-out style. If your image could benefit from a cool-looking sky, you should definitely give this tool a shot.
And the best bit is that using the sky replacement tool in Luminar AI is super convenient. Simply start by downloading a copy of the Luminar AI software from Skylum’s website. You can download a fully functioning 7-day trial from there for both Windows and Mac, and the rest is as easy as importing an image, clicking a few buttons, and adjusting some sliders.
Using Luminar AI for Replacing Skies
Even if you’re using Luminar AI for the first time, you can easily make out that the software can do a whole lot more than just sky replacement. The software has a whole bunch of tools and controls dedicated to fine-tuning your images. You can easily correct your exposure, adjust the colors, and fine-tune the details just like you would when using Adobe Lightroom.
If you prefer editing your images first in Photoshop or Lightroom, you can do that and easily launch Luminar AI from any of that software solely for the purpose of sky replacement. Otherwise, you can manually launch Luminar AI, import the image manually, and then jump into putting in a new sky to your original image.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can use Luminar AI for improving your landscape photos with the help of some impressive skies:
- Once you have your image open in Luminar AI, look over to the right side of the window for the Creative panel and click on it. Then you can immediately see the AI Sky Replacement tool right at the top of the panel.
- Click on the AI Sky Replacement section and you will now see a dropdown with a list of skies that are already baked into the software ready to get the job done. Then there are a bunch of sliders that’ll help you to fine-tune the results.
- To replace the sky, click on the Sky Selection dropdown list and select the sky that best works for your scene. Click on any of the images and you will see how easily your landscape image gets an amazing facelift. If you have a particular sky image that you’d like to use, you can do that too by loading your custom sky image. As you can see in the example below, the image already looks so much better.
An interesting thing you can notice is that the AI not only introduces a new sky to the image but also makes slight lighting and color adjustment to the foreground and other areas of the image. This is to ensure that the resulting photo appears as natural and realistic as possible. That’s a really neat feature that Skylum has thought about.
Fine Tuning the Replaced Sky in Luminar AI
If you feel that your image already looks amazing, you can stop right there. The AI Sky Replacement tool usually does a pretty decent job. But if the image is kind of tricky, or if you want to dive into the controls of the advanced features that the software has to offer, you can tweak the settings accordingly.
When replacing the sky, sometimes a hard edge line may appear in the area where the sky meets the landscape. This is a straight giveaway that a new sky has been added to the image. What you want is a smooth transition in lighting and a soft blend in the horizon. By default, the value is set at 20. If you want the blend to be more subtle, you can do so by increasing this value.
By default, Luminar’s AI does an outstanding job of identifying the horizon when replacing the sky. But in case you need to shift it either upwards or downwards, you can use this option. This tool also comes in handy if you want to shift the position of the sun.
Imagine a case where you have a sunny foreground but the sky you want to use is gloomy. Things don’t add up in such cases, right? In such cases, you’d want to try adjusting this option. Essentially, the Relight Scene feature tries to match the lighting between the foreground and the sky to give a more natural and realistic look to the image.
The Sky Global adjustment affects how the texture blends into the scene. The greater the value, the greater will be the amount of the sky that’s added to the image.
Advanced AI Sky Replacement Settings in Luminar AI
In cases where there are multiple small openings in the image, Luminar can sometimes find it difficult to properly set the mask for the image. Think of images with trees, wires, or some architectural designs. If you feel that such gaps are not filled by the new sky, you can adjust this setting to close the gaps.
In case you have some good-looking cloud formations in your original image that you want to show through in the final image, you can use the Sky Local adjustment slider. This slider influences how much the original clouds are replaced.
This is a pretty straightforward tool with a pronounced result. If your original image was taken with a shallow depth of field with the subject in sharp focus, you wouldn’t want the sky to appear sharp. You can use the Sky Defocus adjustment to make the sky appear out of focus by adding a controlled amount of blur to it.
In case the direction of the shadow is not justified by the position of the brighter region of the sky, you can simply flip the sky with this option. Just check the box that says Flip Sky.
While a clear sky is fun to look at, some amount of haze can add interest and drama to the image. Using the Atmospheric Haze slider, you can add some beautiful haze that gives a soft look to your landscape photography.
Based on the color temperature of the landscape, you can match the sky’s color temperature using the Sky Temperature slider. The sky’s color temperature can drastically impact the overall mood of the entire image. Feel free to experiment, but be sure to keep it natural and believable.
You can use this option to control the exposure to the sky. You’d want to be very careful when using this tool. Make sure that there’s a balance in exposure between the landscape and the sky.
Final Verdict on Luminar AI Sky Replacement
The sky replacement tool in Luminar AI never fails to amaze me. It surely is a pretty handy tool that saves me from spending hours in Photoshop and achieves better results within seconds. It’s really that good. If you are a landscape photographer, I’m sure you’ll agree with me here. And in cases where you feel that the software could do better, you can easily fine-tune it with the available control that the software offers. You don’t have to settle for whatever the software offers. Skylum has definitely done a great job with this iteration of the software.
Landscape photographers, fine-art photographers, and creative artists can benefit a lot from this feature. But, even if you are someone who doesn’t do this kind of stuff in your photography, you could try this just for fun. I’m sure you’ll be pretty impressed with what the software has to offer.