Skylum Is Adding Sky Replacement to Luminar 4

Skylum Is Adding Sky Replacement to Luminar 4

The next version of Luminar, called Luminar 4, will include a one-click sky replacement feature. Other photo editors can get it done, but it usually involves masking, and it often doesn't work very well with foreground objects like trees with a lot of leaves. Adobe demonstrated a one-click sky replacement in 2016, but alas, it never appeared.

The new Luminar one-click sky replacement feature is likely to be very popular. Living as I do in the desert Southwest, I'm often at great locations with "severe clear" skies, just what I don't want for a good golden hour photo. I have my own collection of hundreds of skies I use when I need them, and I've been using Landscape Pro, which does a nice job of inserting the skies when I need them. However, it's not one click, and I do have t0 spend some time defining skies, the landscape, water, rocks, and mountains. 

Skylum's AI Sky Replacement works by automatically detecting not only the sky, but also objects in a photograph’s scene. This helps make sure the photo ends up being as realistic as possible once you insert a new sky. It removes things like halos, artifacts, and edges of transitions, problems that often were present in existing sky replacement techniques. AI Sky Replacement automatically adjusts the sky to fit the rest of your images — things like depth of field, tone, exposure, and color — making it great for not only landscapes, but also portraits.

When working on an image, the AI Sky Replacement technology automatically creates a mask for the sky, taking a step that would often take minutes or even hours and boiling it down to mere seconds with just the click of a mouse. But that’s not all it does: AI Sky Replacement also correctly selects the orientation of the sky so that it looks as realistic as possible.

Furthermore, when you select your sky of choice, you’ll see the rest of your photo change in terms of light and color. This makes sure that an image and sky match so they appear they were taken during the same conditions. Because of the toning that AI Sky Replacement does to an image, it looks as natural and smooth as possible.

Skylum sent me some samples of replaced skies, and I have to say the area around trees looks really good, even when enlarged beyond 100%.

There are a few things missing from this first try at sky replacement. While the software will have a collection of skies, most photographers prefer to use their own. This version will not support that, although it will appear in an update down the road. (Update on 7/24: Skylum now says users would be able to work with their own skies starting with version one, but they will need to meet some technical requirements in order for the AI technology to apply them correctly.)

Also, Luminar 4 will not do sky reflections in water. It would be difficult to get that working under AI, but Skylum programmers are working on it. They know it is important. 

Of course, Luminar 4 will also include all the features of the current Luminar version 3, but it's clear the company is aiming toward more and more AI features in addition to the already included Accent AI feature, which works on the whole image and the AI Sky Enhancer, which nicely improves skies. In fact, it was the programming work done on the Sky Enhancer that led to the new sky replacement feature.

Luminar 4 is set to be released this fall. Pre-orders are now available on the Skylum website.

Pricing will be announced at a later time, and upgrade pricing will be available for current users. 

While some landscape photographers really don't like sky replacement, I have found it useful for some photos. Judging from the amount of tutorials for replacing skies on YouTube, it's obvious I'm not alone. Being able to do this with one click will be a real time-saver.

Your comments are welcome, as always. 

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33 Comments

user-206807's picture

Then it will be landscape replacement… cityscape replacement… people replacement…
So why not replace the photographer first?

LOL. But on a serious note I can see this being valuable in two instances: real estate or product photography where time does not permit perfect conditions and the intent of the photography is not realism but creating an emotional response, And yes I know someone will say that this would be false advertising; like everything else in life there is a fine line that esthetically must be balanced.

The other way this could be valuable is if you are a nature/landscape photographer and you use it as part of a previsualization technique when scouting a location and want to verify a compositional approach.

Yes, I understand that many may use it lazily to improve a sub par photo, but I have no issues as long as they declare it as a composite. For some photography is a mixed art format.

Kevin Harding's picture

Surely false advertising is something which can not be replicated or expected to be found under the right conditions. Unless it were, for example, a setting sun in a location where that is impossible then simple sky replacement shouldn't be an issue ?
I do replace skies on occasion and it is a right PITA so any improvement in that regard is welcome. However based on Luminar's track history (I use L3 as my preferred editor so I'm not biased against Luminar) I doubt we'll see anything even close to a perfect implementation unless the sky is particularly conducive to replacement.

michaeljin's picture

If they could perfect this to use with my own sky library it would be a freaking game changer for me. (Real estate photographer)

Alex Tsepko's picture

You'll be able to use your own Sky for sure.

Studio 403's picture

My rant for the day is software folks promise way ahead of “stuff to come” , then when it arrives full of bugs, then the chant, “we are working on upgrades”. ON1 promise the same thing and it has in place this AI feature. However from my using this app, does not deliver what it promised. My request, Get it right the first time without all hype.

Nicholas K's picture

Sounded awesome. Right up until the point of "you can't use your own skies". So, basically, it's a gimmick not a real feature at all... wait until every pro has released 12 images each of the same sky and see the Instagram row that creates. Sad face.

Alex Tsepko's picture

You'll be able to use your own Sky:)

EL PIC's picture

Waiting for the one step nude model replacement.

Kevin Harding's picture

That would require a library .. and I suggest most people would never leave the library so never get any work done !

Brian Stricker's picture

It would be better if they spent some time making Luminar 3 actually usable. Takes about 3+ minutes to load and a minute or so to load an image to edit. Pretty much makes the whole platform a gimmick and not usable.

user-206807's picture

It is faster to use Flex as plugin for Lightroom (and others)
https://skylum.com/luminar-flex

Let's be honest - sky replacement = lying.

Logan Cressler's picture

Fake ice and condensation on beer = lying
Makeup = lying
Lights that are not the sun = lying
Editing = Lying
Making MONEY = Lying

Let's be honest, we live in a new time. When people pay for photos of their kids, or their house, or their product, they are not trying to show what the sky looked like at that time. They are trying to sell their house, or have an awesome photo of their kid before they go off to college, or whatever.

Who the FUCK CARES. Why does everything have to go to the same standards as photojournalism? It doesn't. The people that bitch about photoshop, sky replacements, any of this stuff, are the same people bitching about not having any work because the market is over-saturated. Perhaps you are just not making the photos people want to buy now.

user-206807's picture

Logan, maybe there's something you didn't understand about creativity.
Being a (good) photographer (illustrator or other) is above all being creative and technically perfect.
A creative person, an artist, uses the instruments at his disposal to shape his Art.
In the case of a photographer it is the camera, the lenses, the light sources, which he has at his disposal, but also the instruments which he can then use to elaborate and retouch his images in order to obtain the result as he planned it by using above all his main instrument: the brain.
The development of an image, color balancing, exposure adjustment, local addition of different color shades, etc. is part of a creative mental process, of conscious and reasoned choices, of a desire to achieve a precise and perfectly defined goal.

Make-up, light, editing, are all instruments, means, used by the professional according to his needs, desires and the goal he wants to achieve.
The way they are used is always controlled and certainly not left to chance.

Artificial intelligence has nothing to do with any of this....

Logan Cressler's picture

So you can know exactly what you want, tell someone else to do it for you, and you are still creating your artistic vision. But do the exact same thing and have a computer do it for you, you are not creative or an artist? I thought creativity was in the image you have in your brain that you want to create, not the tools used to do it. What difference does it make what technique you use to replace the sky, so long as your intention was to replace the sky to complete your vision?

You are splitting hairs where there are none to be split, and I fail to see the purpose of your comment, as long as it was, other than trying to use many words to sound smart.

user-206807's picture

I understand what you mean, but I thing that we are speaking of different things.
And using rude language and personal attacks will certainly not make you sound smarter…………

Logan Cressler's picture

I see you have no actual argument so resort to personal insults. Also, pretty sure you have the wrong Instagram account if you are implying that that is what I do.

Also... being rude, as you are, will certainly not help you to sound smarter.

You are splitting hairs where there are none to be split, and I fail to see the purpose of your comment, as long as it was, other than trying to use many words to sound smart.

Logan Cressler's picture

PS. Where are your works of art? None are uploaded so I assume you dont want to show them off here, perhaps a link to your instagram account so I can see what you make that is so great? Website? Anything? Or just a bunch of words?

There is no logical correlation between one's opinions and their body of work. Each of us aspires to great work, according to our opinion of great work, but never adequately reflected in the results.

Logan Cressler's picture

I agree, but there is a correlation between that persons work when they call out someone else’s work and insult it, I would like to see even one image that they refuse to post so I can see what sort of knowledge they have to critique others work. He edited his comment to delete his nonsense after he said something about my Instagram being a way to show off my editing of family and friends or something like that, and clearly now is embarrassed by his bullshit after I said what I did. Notice his comment says “edited.”

Oh. I was wondering about your comment to him. Well, I don't know anything about Instagram or Twitter. Fstoppers is as much Social Media as I can stand. Sometimes more... ;-)

user-206807's picture

The only reason I withdrew my comment was because I didn't want to continue the discussion with you.
But if it makes you happy, here is the original commentary.
Answer whatever you want, I won't answer you. I don't want to have discussions with impolite and rude people, the kind of people who write things like "Who the FUCK CARES", also using capital letters, a way of writing that is absolutely unacceptable on a forum.

Here is the original post:

First of all, I thought that by writing on this site I was addressing professionals in visual communication, most of them photographers, and not amateurs who have fun retouching photos of their children or pets to post them on Instagram....
Sorry, I got the wrong place!

Effectively using a computer instrument using one's own hand controlled by one's own brain is part of a creative process.
But using an artificial intelligence program, that decides for itself what to do and how to do it, has nothing to do with a creative process, it's just a casual and lazy shortcut for people lacking ideas and creativity or technical skills.
But if you're satisfied with that I'm very happy for you.

The software we are talking about here only replaces the sky with photos that are part of a limited library of images made by others…
If I take your reasoning a little further, we could also use the AI to change a landscape, replace a calm sea with a stormy one, change the day into a night, change men into women, Africans into Europeans, and build skyscrapers in the middle of the Sahara desert, all this of course using images created by other people?...
But in the end, could we say that it is a photo... or even a simple creative process?

I am sorry if you think that I use many words to sound smart…
It is not the case, simply, I am smart…

You contradict your own statement: "A creative person, an artist, uses the instruments at his disposal to shape his Art."

AI is just another tool. Right now, it's a marketing term and FAR from "intelligent". I know- this is the field I work in. It's a slightly more evolved tool than the ones you use every day in photoshop and other programs. You still need to decide when and how to use AI, and in many cases, tune the end results.

Your whole argument was correct until the last line which is completely absurd and hypocritical.

Not all photographers are, or want to be, artists. I have no use for this sort of thing and only very lightly use Lightroom and Photoshop but, suum cuique. (Does that bit of Latin make me sound smart?) ;-)

Incendiary comments in a forum = troll.

Sky replacement .. that's it? I'll stick with Luminar 3, thanks.

Alex Tsepko's picture

That's just the first feature we have announced. More to come:)

Marcus Joyce's picture

Are they ever going to finish 3?

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