The Easiest Way to Replace a Sky in a Photo

I've been replacing skies manually in Photoshop for over 15 years now. It's time-consuming and tedious, but I assumed it was the only way. But now, Luminar 4 claims to be able to swap skies with a single click, and it's quite impressive. 

Let me be clear, Luminar 4 is not going to give you all of the detailed adjustments that Photoshop allows. If you're a fine art photographer who needs every pixel of your images to look flawless, this probably isn't the best option for you. You might prefer Mike Kelley's sky library and the manual approach. 

But for the rest of us, especially real estate and portrait photographers, we need to be able to swap skies quickly. This is where Luminar 4 really shines. 

To see it in action, watch the video above. It's certainly not perfect, but it's far better than anything else I've tried, and if Luminar can add just a few extra features like the ability to load raw skies, move and skew them with more precision, and mask export back into Photoshop, this would be a tool that even the most detail-oriented photographer would use for every sky replacement. 

Luminar 4 certainly isn't for everyone, but it's totally free to try, and it's certainly worth checking out. It has a ton of other features, but the automatic sky replacements are certainly my favorite. 

If you decide to buy it, you can use the code "FSTOPPERS" at checkout to save an additional $10. 

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15 Comments

Mark Wyatt's picture

Must admit I am not a fan of "replacing skies". I understand for commercial use perhaps. Problem to me is that you can throw in a sky that likely would never be seen in that location at that time of year (or ever)- i.e. totally fake, and it starts devaluing photography.

michael andrew's picture

Then dont watch the video or try the software. Sorry to sound rude but why does your global opinion of image editing have anything to do with a "discussion" in this very specific article?

You literally just walked into a Taco shop and started saying how you dont like tacos and think it is bad for the restaurant industry. I dont get it?

Mark Wyatt's picture

I like tacos. Opinions are free, whether from me or the authors. Take them for what they are worth. This is an opinion article about "replacing skies", and I have an opinion on that. Last time I checked that is what social media and discussion forms are about. Sharing opinions. Thanks for sharing yours.

Spike S's picture

It's not an opinion, it's a tutorial. Where is the opinion in it?

I use it for commercial stuff and saves me tons of time. Not only that but L4's other enhancement tools do a fantastic job improving otherwise crappy images in a short amount of time. It's another good tool to have on hand outside of the main apps.

Jeremy Lusk's picture

I just downloaded this a few days ago and was also impressed, although I found it a bit difficult to get natural looking results on landscapes shot directly into the sun. Blending a luminar sky on top of the original one, while maintaining the sun and it’s reflection on the ocean in the distance took a fair amount of dialing in.

Nevertheless, very impressed and excited to use it more.

Used it out of curiosity and got good results. Can be used for specific photography, but not for all. I'd rather use their sky enhancer to enhance the actual sky.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I'm not getting a reduction when I input the discount code... :(

Same for me. Clicking the link in the article automatically takes of the $10 so i'm wondering whether or not there is supposed to be an additional discount with the code.

Dave Morris's picture

Looks like a solution in a search of a problem. And the results are quite ugly: the perspective, lighting and sizes of the clouds all look wrong. Just like a tasteless collage.

Thats great to see in action, I have to occasionally replace skies especially in Winter in London, and it drives me nuts-the most boring part of editing and although I have a reasonably fast PS speed doing it, it could always be better. I had heard of this but not seen or read anyone else using it-I will do the trial this year to see if it could be implemented (or worth implementing) into work flow..

Alexander Lauterbach's picture

I tried the new feature on 4 or 5 photos I recently edited just to know if it "works like magic" as advertised.
And you know what? It didn't work properly with any of these photos. For me, it's just a half-baked tool that only serves as a sales argument for version 4.

It's obviously not meant for people like you, which he commented in the video, who want complete creative control and spend hours on their edits. You're images are fantastic and it's not targeted at someone of you're skill level. But it does have its uses.

michael andrew's picture

This feature is incredible I purchased the software 5 minutes after watching the video this is going to save me so much time thank you!

Mark Wyatt's picture

The fake sky (right, after) is a lot less likely to be seen in coastal San Diego than the real sky (left, before). But I guess it does not matter. This is graphic arts, not photography at this point. Why not add a UFO while you are at it?