One of the challenges that photographers face when shooting outdoors is making a location look great, no matter how beautiful or drab it actually is. Sure, there are times when the planets seem to align and colors fill the sky in an awe-inspiring display. There are other times, however, when the sky (and lighting in general) is rather dull. In such instances, photographers typically capture the scene as is, or they otherwise labor (sometimes for hours) to manually replace the skies in post. Neither solution offers much appeal. Luckily, the team over at Skylum Software recognized a need for better automated editing techniques and they’ve developed AI-powered software to help photographers create better images in less time than was previously possible. Sky replacement is just one of the new AI tools set to feature in Skylum Software’s forthcoming Luminar 4 release. Read on to learn how this photo editing software came to be and find out where it’s headed.

This article is part of our Company Feature Series, in which we share insight into the companies who create the photography products that we know and trust. The goal of this series is to share stories that inspire our readers to innovate and create within the photo industry.

Where are you located?

“We are headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, and we also have international offices in Kyiv and Tokyo.”

What is the Skylum Software Origin story?

“We started as a little-known company called Macphun, making apps for iPhones (about 60 of them since we launched in 2008). As we matured into Skylum, we focused on our most successful apps, which had to do with photography.

And those apps did pretty well, winning Best of the Year awards by Apple for five straight years, the Red Dot Award, and other top industry honors. Aurora HDR was named among the Best Apps on the App Store. Luminar has won Lucie awards and awards for Best Imaging Software from TIPA and Best Photo Editing Software from EISA (to name a few).”

What is the mission or purpose of Skylum Software?

“We see how AI is already simplifying and enhancing our lives, and our mission is to automate photo editing with Artificial Intelligence. Our goal is to give photographers more control by completely replacing traditional editing techniques with new AI technologies that will not only be smarter but also give significantly better results.”

What are your core values?

“Our core values include the following: quality, control, ease of use. Especially with Luminar 4, users can achieve previously unimaginable results in seconds, and with the precise control loved by photographers of all levels.”

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How do you strive to be different from others in your space?

“We respect our competitors. Yet, we notice how often the solution is just more features, or faster features, or some other marginal technical improvement. But our mission demands a shift in paradigm — our improvements have to be game-changers. Our most ambitious, underlying goal is to make all the tedious parts of photo editing completely obsolete. Instead of learning for hours how to use a certain filter, our users will execute their creative vision with a few toggles and let Artificial Intelligence take care of the backend in seconds.”

What product or service are you most proud of and why?

“We’re most proud of Luminar, which stole the spotlight by being a full-featured photo editor designed for photographers of all skill levels. It’s incredibly powerful and easy-to-use. Since its launch in 2016,users love its innovative interface, over 100 features (including AI-powered filters), and powerful editing functionality.

But then we made a quantum leap with Luminar 4 (to be released later this fall): introducing such powerful AI (and specifically of machine learning) that we essentially created the “Autotune of Photos,” which puts users in full editing control of tools that quickly and with accuracy/effectiveness previously unheard-of make editing easy and fun.

For example, Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement Tool automatically changes your photo’s sky in seconds with no need to resort to Smart Selection, Luminosity Masking, Overlaying, Layers, Masking, Smart Brushes, Color Range, etc. It’s all done automatically (and looks fantastic!). What used to take photographers minutes or even hours, now takes mere seconds with the new AI Sky Replacement.”

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Given the evolving state of the industry, what’s next for your company?

“Our focus is on making Luminar the essential tool for every photographer. To achieve that, we continue empowering our users with tools that truly level-up their creative skills. For example, earlier this year, we added to Luminar 3 the smart Accent AI 2.0 filter, which easily deals with shadows, highlights, contrast, and beyond by analyzes photographs, taking notes of things like faces, and giving a net result that visibly improves an image every time. It’s content-aware. It knows what to improve (and how) and what to leave alone. It’s driven by a new neural network which recognizes specific objects much more effectively than was possible before. Accent AI is trained on more objects than before, and there’s also a new “person” class that helps recognize facial features. By allowing the software to selectively apply these adjustments, photographers can experience an enhanced workflow, resulting in more life-like photographs.

And as I mentioned earlier, Luminar 4’s AI tools will be so revolutionary that it will change how photos are edited (especially the attitudes photographers have towards the editing process).”

What else would you like our readers to know?

“As Luminar 4 is launched this fall, Skylum will be more visible around the world in a variety of ways. In October, for instance, we’ll be presenting Luminar 4 at both Berlin Photo Week in Germany and Photo Plus Expo in New York City.

Additionally, Skylum is developing a very broad Ambassador program, featuring local photo-related events around the world on a weekly basis.”

Watch the video below to see AI Sky Replacement in action:

You can find Skylum on the web and various social media profiles via the following links:

Skylum Software: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube