Skylum Luminar 4 – AI Sky Replacement

A Travel Photographer’s nemesis is the weather. Days with washed-out skies or even cloudless days can make images boring and bland. In high dynamic scenes where there are extremely bright sky highlights and dark foregrounds, it is impossible to get a well-balanced image without bracketing shots and combining them in software.

For us, it is even more frustrating, as we are photographers as well as publishers. Quite often we license stock images where the only image of a destination is one with less than an ideal sky. We’ve usually been able to improve the skies in Photoshop or occasionally replace them altogether, however, this is time-consuming.

Well, it looks like that is all likely to change with the upcoming release of Skylum’s Luminar 4. There are many new features with this version, notably the AI Sky Replacement, AI Skin Enhancer, and Portrait Enhancer. We have been testing the software over the last week and it is nothing short of amazing. Many shots that have been unusable in the past have now been given life with only one click.

At this stage, we are unable to show you any images of the software’s interface until the release of the final product. However, we can show you the before-and-after results we have been able to obtain using the software.

Below is a short video to whet your appetite.

The version of the software that we have been supplied comes with 26 different sky presets, however, there is also the option to use your own skies. The only caveat is that your skies should contain a horizon.

One of the most frustrating things about replacing skies has been the area closest to the horizon, as this area usually needs to be lighter, otherwise, the sky can look unnatural. Fortunately, the software allows you to easily fix this by using the Horizon Blending slider. For those shots where your background sky is out of focus, there’s even a Sky Defocus slider.

If the overlay is not perfect on your image then you also have tools to Edit the mask by painting back in areas that should not have been affected. We have had a few images that really challenged the software however most images worked perfectly. Naturally, not everything is perfect in the first iteration of this new feature but we’re confident that future updates will get better and better. 

If you want an application that will fix your travel photography images quickly and efficiently then we would strongly recommend you Pre-Order Luminar 4 by clicking here.

Below are a few of our images using the AI Sky Replacement tool in Luminar 4. Hover over the images to get a magnified view.

Leptis Magna, Libya.

The original shot with a boring sky

Leptis Magna, Libya.

Just 1 click and the sky has been replaced.

Even the small gap between the columns on both sides of the arch have been filled with the new sky! To match the sky, the foreground has been re-lit by the software but this can be adjusted to taste.

Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
The original shot with an awful sky

Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Just 1 click and the sky has been replaced. The software, however, does struggle at the top of the water fountain. Nevertheless, a very good attempt.

Venice, Italy.
The original sky. We don’t mind this sky but many would find it boring.

Venice, Italy.
Just 1 click and the sky has been replaced. The software has even picked out all the gaps in the tree on the right-hand side of the canal. To match the sky, the foreground has been re-lit by the software but this can be adjusted to taste. Keep in mind, the software will not be great for reflections of the sky on reflective surfaces such as water.

IN CONCLUSION

Naturally, if you are a purist who likes to see their images portrayed exactly as you saw them, then this is not a feature for you. For us, it’s a godsend!

If you would like to Pre-Order Luminar 4 software then click the banner below.

UPDATE

Since the release of this post, we have been testing many images to see if Luminar 4 struggles with any sky replacements. In the majority of scenarios, the software works great, however, we have found a few instances where it will not work.  If the option to replace the sky is ‘greyed out’ it indicates that the software cannot find or determine what part of the image is the sky. Below are a couple of examples. Keep in mind, that the version we have is still a BETA version and the final product may be better.

This image was taken from Hiroshima Castle with a flat ordinary sky. The software could not determine that there is a sky in the image and therefore was ‘greyed out’

This image was taken with a fisheye lens in Hong Kong looking directly up. The software cannot recognize any sky and therefore does not allow sky replacement. Having said that, this would be an extremely easy sky to replace in alternative software such as Photoshop.

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