Luminar AI Sky Replacement, a brief review

Over the past year, with travel being pretty much impossible, Luminar AI has become a hot topic with my travel photo clients. With plenty of time on their hands to work on replacing blank or boring skies, sky replacement has become a big deal. So honing sky replacement skills is trending and Luminar AI is serious help! I can not even get remotely that far in Lightroom developing. And that’s not to say I don’t love Lightroom, I do! But it doesn’t do sky replacement.

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I have to be honest, I was suspicious of Luminar AI. Horizon lines, tree details like leaves and other fine details are always a challenge in sky replacement. Masking those kinds details can result in halos and obvious detail edges, a big giveaway that the photo has been altered. In the (find) Sky feature of Photoshop, it’s almost always necessary to use Select and Mask for fine tuning. Because of that, casual Photoshop users find it daunting due to the steep learning curve. But if you are an experienced Photoshop user, you can export directly to Luminar AI for additional work.

The AI (Artificial Intelligence, AKA Machine Learning) of Luminar AI is aware of the content of the photo, sky, land, people, trees, etc. and, even though Photoshop has Machine learning features, Luminar AI doesn’t require a knowledge of masking, making the process far less complex. Add to that, the very large range of sky options available for purchase. The simplicity and fun factor of Luminar AI, compared to frustration of doing the same tasks in Photoshop, just makes working in Luminar AI a joy for any user level.

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Luminar Before and After

There are a lot of similarities between Luminar 4 and Luminar AI. But AI is faster, it also “recognizes” more objects and has cloning tools that don’t require learning how to use layers, as in Photoshop. I round trip my photos from Lightroom to Luminar AI and then back into the Lightroom catalog. Luminar AI isn’t just sky replacement, it’s much more than that with dozens more adjustments for landscapes like Atmosphere, Mood and Augmented Reality and a Portrait component that features adjustments for Face, Skin and Body.

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It’s hard to believe that this is the same photo!

Am I going to go back to Photoshop for sky replacement? Probably, for some of my photos. I like the fine tuning of Select and Mask and use luminance masking for my more detailed work in luminance ranges. Since you asked, for luminance masking, I use Lumenzia from Greg Benz. 

When we talk about sky replacement, we’re talking creativity, not journalism. So, go wild and experiment with Luminar AI (<Link for free trial)!