How to Replace Skies in Seconds: Complete Lightroom to Luminar 4 Editing Tutorial
In this video, we’ll show you the easiest & quickest way to replace skies in your image using Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement tool. This will be a full Lightroom to Luminar 4 tutorial showing you how we edited the image and then replaced the sky. You’ll also learn 5 tips on how to replace skies convincingly in any photo. Thank you to Skylum for sponsoring this video and allowing us to bring free tutorials like this to our YouTube channel.
When it comes to replacing skies, our best bet is to somehow make a selection of the actual sky. This is a fairly complex task if there are multiple elements in the frame that cross through the sky and differs from image to image. While this action can be done in Photoshop, there isn’t an easy way to do get everything to blend correctly and convincingly that doesn’t eat up a bunch of post-production time. You can even see my attempt in the video and how much time and steps I have to go through to get to a final product. This could mean 20-30 mins per photograph to get a convincing mask. In our previous Luminar 4 tutorial, you can see how easy and fast Luminar 4 portrait retouching tools are which completely warrant the purchase of this software for everyday usage.
Let’s discuss how we process an image like this from start to finish, starting in Lightroom and working our way to Luminar 4.
1. Dial-in your Look Inside of Lightroom
You can either use a preset or dial your look in manually, but get to a good starting place for your overall image in terms of color, temperature, and contrast. Using Visual Flow’s Lighting Condition Based Development (made in partnership with DVLOP) we selected the HDR Natural preset from our Modern Park. This is going to do everything for me and all I have to do is adjust my Exposure and Temperature to get to my final look. I am going to add a -.50 Radial Exposure Burn to the image to draw a bit more attention to the subjects. From there, right-click and select ‘Edit in Luminar 4’.
2. Choose a Sky That Matches Your Scene
Once we are in Luminar 4, select AI Sky Replacement. The beauty of Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement is that it offers a whole list of sky options to blend into your photos, ranging from daytime, to sunset, to even starry night skies. My favorite tool for sky replacement in the past has been Mike Kelly’s Ultimate Sky Library offered by Fstoppers, it has such a great variety of high-resolution options for any lighting condition. The key to this step is to match the lighting in your image to the sky image you are trying to blend in. The original image we are using is a sunset/golden hour photography which leads me to select a sunset sky. You also want to make sure the light in the sky image that you choose is coming from the same direction as the light in our scene. You can see in the video that I flip through several options and arrive at one that is nearly identical in light direction. If you open up advanced settings, you can actually flip the sky.
3. Blend the Sky
Within the slider options in Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement tool, you’ll see Horizon Blending – this is simply the graduation of the blend. Horizon Position allows you to adjust the sky image to match the location of where the sun would be in your photograph. Luminar’s AI is detecting where your horizon line is even though, especially in this image, you can’t really see it – absolutely insane! Going further down the list, you’ll see Relight Scene as one of the sliders, which allows you to change the reflection of light amongst other portions of your image to match the spread of light. I typically dial this in at anywhere from +10-15. Sky Global effects the way the sky image will blend with the surrounding objects in the scene. In the full video Luminar 4 tutorial, I go through each and every slider and how they affect the image.
4. Match the Overall Brightness
Match the brightness of the sky to the brightness and level of the scene. For an image like the one we are using as an example that’s fairly bright to start with, I am going to adjust my Exposure up quite a bit, and then I am going to dial the Atmospheric Haze slider (A.K.A Opacity) up to get a more realistic blend. Luminar 4 even allows you to tweak the color temperature of the sky. Remember, less is more when it comes to creating a convincing final look.
5. Bonus Tip: Twice Baking
This is something I like to do to refine the image just a bit more, I am going to reprocess the image. This time I am going to use the Soft Light Visual Flow Preset from the Modern Pack and start to add a second layer of adjustments. This step isn’t necessary but once you’ve added the sky it helps you finesse the overall image to make sure everything is blended to perfection. Here is the final before and after:
The fact that I can go from the above before image to the after image using one-click of Luminar 4’s sky replacement is some AI sorcery. It has flawlessly blended the sky into the image and even upon zooming in you can see it somehow made its way through the complex branches and leaves of the trees. Here are two other examples from the video:
You can start a free trial and buy Luminar 4 here! You can also use the coupon code SLRLOUNGE to get extra $10 off your purchase. This is why I encourage all of you to become results-oriented, rather than process-oriented in the way you do things.