Download These Free Files and Avoid This One Mistake in Your Sky Replacements

It doesn't matter what kind of photography you do, there will be times when your pictures would benefit from a sky replacement. Just make sure you avoid this blindingly obvious mistake whenever you do them in Photoshop.

French photographer and educator Serge Ramelli is back once again with another insightful video on replacing skies in your images. Ramelli shows a handful of different examples of what does and doesn't make a good sky replacement. He then stresses how crucial it is that you don't shoehorn a sky into your work if it wasn't taken at a similar time of day as your original image. This obvious point makes complete sense, but I have to be honest that I'm guilty of breaking this rule on occasion and I'm sure many of you have too. Ramelli points out how subtle clues in the lighting from the position of the sun will either consciously or subconsciously alert the viewer that something isn't right in the photo, and as the majority of us want our edits to be seamless, this wouldn't be a good thing.

The video also shows the benefits of having a library of skies which you can call upon for your various edits, and Ramelli includes a link so you can download some free high-resolution skies to get your library started. If you have shot something recently that you feel could use a little help in the sky department, why not try the techniques and files in the video and show us your transformations in the comments below. 

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21 Comments

looks like link for download is broken, also he launched a new site today

Studio 403's picture

I sure hope, don't like to be suckered by the French, he he

Paul Adshead's picture

Link has been updated apologies!

Studio 403's picture

good ideas, however, I went to the site and no free "skies files" so have we been hoodwinked.....perhaps verify with the vendor before you published?

Not vouching for the content or the guy or anything like that, but if you want a working URL this should do it: https://legacy.photoserge.com/free-lesson/the_one_mistake_to_avoid_when_...

Paul Adshead's picture

Thanks for the link Brian the link has been changed :)

Paul Adshead's picture

The photographer updated his website and killed the link. All fixed now. Thanks for your concern...

Colin Robertson's picture

Be careful when trying to get the promised free content from this guy—I made that mistake once and was bombarded with junk mail for weeks.

Tamas Nemeth's picture

The one mistake to avoid when you do sky replacement: to do it.

Vladimir Ambia's picture

Nothing is ever FREE lol

jonas y's picture

Thank you for sharing!

Just don't do sky replacement. I would never buy stuff from someone doing it. I might not spot it on one pic but if I learn a photographer is doing them, I won't follow his or her work. Work on getting the sky right in the first place.

Mike Kelley's picture

you must not follow any commercial photographers then

As it happens I don't, only wildlife and landscape photographers, but I don't care if sky swapping is used in commercial photography, just don't do it on landscapes or architectural stuff. To please me it should give me the sensation that I'm here, and that I should/could visit. Not give me a feeling that I'll never possibly see what's shown because it's too incredible (like the milky way with a sunset lighting a grizzly bear tearing appart a salmon while being looked at by a biker doing a 360 above the grand canyon).

Rob VanderStelt's picture

Sometimes sky replacements make sense. You dont always have the ability to wait for the ideal setting and sometimes the sky when you're out on a photoshoot is blah or depressing looking. There's nothing wrong with a decent sky replacement.

Well to me there is a lot wrong IF you're selling that pic or gaining fame from it. Just like that moon pic by Peter Lik. It's unfair to make money out of it against the guy who actually put in the work and waited several years for the perfect sky and the perfect light, which is what someone like Glenn Randall does for example. I just love the untouched natural feel of his pictures, and I cringe when I see someone adding birds in photoshops, removing people or lamp posts etc... in nature photography. If when you took the photo you didn't have the feeling that you're ultimately trying to convey in the final print you're selling, like if you take a cloudless boring sunset picture and add flamboyant majestic pink clouds in the final image, then I don't want it. Be honest with your work. If you're swapping a sky for hanging that photo on your wall, fine. Just don't sell it.

Rob Woodham's picture

This just isn't realistic in commercial photography, especially with you specifically mentioning architectural photography (the same goes for interiors).

When you're shooting on a deadline, especially if there are multiple people/vendors involved in making the shoot possible, what sky you get is what you get. This may or may not meet the client's expectations.

There isn't room for silly platitudes about the purity of photography when you're shooting for demanding clients who are seeking a high quality product with a specific aesthetic. You either deliver or you don't. I can guarantee that clients will not be satisfied if you make a choice to under-deliver because you have a moral or stylistic objection to an industry standard practice like sky replacement.

If you're shooting without a deadline or doing it to hopefully sell prints, take a thousand photos if you want to and spend years agonizing over that one perfect shot. I hope it goes great, I truly do. If you're shooting for clients with a set budget and schedule (which most paying clients in architecture will have), that simply isn't an option, so the only responsible thing is to use what tools are available to provide the best product that meets the client's demands.

I agree with what you say. Nowadays clients dictate that for real estate photo you have to do it. But for selling prints, you don't. If you still do to cut corners, then I find it not very respectable.

Rob Woodham's picture

Fair enough, Nick!

Duane Klipping's picture

It is one thing to clone out objects that distract from the composition and I do it a lot. You just cant cut powerlines out of your way to get the composition you want.

I do however agree that sky replacement or adding things that were not there to begin with and not disclosing this as a composite is false and misleading. Full disclosure and I think it is fine as an artistic piece.