Luminar AI 1.2 — Sky Replacement

My usual litany when I’ve been gone for a while goes something like this: sorry I’ve not been around much, but stuff be happening that precludes me from being more involved with the blog or the blogosphere in general.

Well, this is one of them times when the usual litany is applicable. Still, even when doing other things, I occasionally need to step away from “stuff” and dip my toe back into what relaxes me, namely, playing with photographs and posting them.

JPG output from Lightroom using “Auto” adjustments of the original RAW photo.

That’s a shot from the Rocky Mountains National Park, taken during a visit in July of 2010. The camera is the Nikon D200, and the lens is the Sigma 10-20mm f/4.0-5.6 at 13mm zoom (19.5mm effective). In fact, all the photos are shot with that camera/lens combination with the effective zoom ranging from 15mm to 30mm.

So, what am I doing with a ten-and-a-half-year-old photo?

Today, I’m using it for a relatively quick post about Luminar AI’s latest update. To be clear, there’s Luminar 4 and there’s Luminar AI, and the two are not the same thing, although they both have a Sky Replacement module.

You can read about Luminar AI HERE<<link. I did at least one post about Luminar AI (HERE<<link). So far, from the perspective of quick post-processing edits that look good with little effort (one click), Luminar AI has impressed me and I don’t regret buying it.

So, for instance, a one-click edit of the above using one of the presets suggested by Luminar AI looks like this . . . 

Luminar AI Scenery Template; Clear and Crisp.

OK, OK, I lied. When I got that back to Lightroom, I used one of my presets to slightly bump the brightness and saturation. However, now that I look at it here on WordPress, perhaps it’s a bit more than I wanted. Here’s the version right out of Luminar AI.

Unmodified Luminar AI Scenery Template; Clear and Crisp.

So, here’s the thing . . . the two photos on my drive look nearly identical, with but a slight bump. However, once I import them into WordPress, the difference is magnified and more noticeable. It seems WordPress bumps up the “vividness” of the photo.

Full disclosure: subsequent photos listed as “from Luminar AI” are, in fact, very slightly altered by me and WordPress then adds a bit more “umpf” atop of my adjustments. That’s something I’ll have to study and adapt to. Perhaps they’ve been doing it all along and I never noticed.

Anyway, the reason for this post is that in version 1.2 (their latest update), they’ve modified the Sky Replacement module to include reflections, typically when the scene includes bodies of water. Like, for instance, the above photo. Meaning, whereas the previous module would do a good job of replacing the sky, the new sky would be in contrast to the reflection of the original sky on the water (lake, river, cesspool, and whatnot).

By the way, there was a post I did exploring the Sky Replacement module in Luminar 4 (HERE<<link).

Anyway, here’s what the above shot looks like with the sky replaced, the reflection in the water, and some relighting of the scene.

Luminar AI Sky Replacement and reflection onto the water.

It’s not bad. As usual, they do a great job replacing the sky, even behind branches. The reflection is  . . . OK. The thing is, unlike with the sky, they don’t seem to entirely get rid of any existing sky reflection, so that’s not a true reflection. Then again, the original reflection didn’t look like a mirror image either. But, that’s the problem; you can still see the original clouds. 

The reason is that unlike what they do for the sky — completely erase the old and replace it with the new — they can’t really do that for the water because it would also eliminate ripples and/or other surface details.

That means that some photos of water are better than others. Like, for instance, gray featureless skies are very good because their reflection would be fairly featureless as well, and mapping the new sky’s reflection would look more realistic (there are examples on YouTube).

Let’s take another photo from the same day and same lake . . .

JPG output from Lightroom of the original RAW file with some Lightroom tweaks.

And here’s another example of a one-click edit with one of Luminar’s other scenery modules (I don’t remember which one).

One-click post-processing using Luminar AI.

Here’s another sky replacement example . . .

Luminar AI sky replacement with reflection.

Again, I can still see the original patterns of the clouds reflected in the water, with new clouds and lighting superimposed onto them. Note they maintained the ripples.

Personally, it’s still not a realistic sky replacement. Note also that I would not present such a photo without specifying that it was altered.

Let me try a photo with more gray and marginally fewer features in the existing sky . . . here’s the original out of Lightroom.

JPG output from Lightroom of the original RAW file with some Lightroom tweaks.

And here’s yet another one-click processing result . . .

One-click post-processing using Luminar AI.

And here’s yet another sky replacement example . . .

Luminar AI Sky Replacement and reflection onto the water.

That is a little better because at least the original patterns get masked and blended more than the others.

What I’m still impressed with is how well the sky gets replaced. I could try to do that by hand by masking the sky and bringing in a new layer and feathering the contours, etc. etc. and it would take me an hour or more to blend in the interface between the sky and the ground, and longer with complicated trees in the foreground.

For instance, here’s another original . . .

JPG output from Lightroom of the original RAW file with some Lightroom tweaks.

Again, the one-click processing . . .

Luminar AI Scenery Template; Clear and Crisp.

. . . and here’s another click to swap out the sky with the reflection option switched on . . .

Luminar AI Sky Replacement and reflection onto the water.

You know, this doesn’t look that much different to some of the landscapes HDRs I’ve seen people do. Plus, if you look at the original-size version (in SmugMug) you can see how well the sky is put “behind” the branches. Again, it would take me a long time to achieve what I just did in Luminar AI 1.2 with one click.

Anyway, I don’t know how much I will use the Sky Replacement feature other than to have fun (and seldom at that, even). I could, however, use it just before I do an Impression conversion to a painting.

Note: this won’t be in the SmugMug gallery

This LINK will take you to the SmugMug gallery that has the full-size versions of the above photos. There, you can more closely examine how well the Sky Replacement works when blending with foreground features like branches of trees. And here’s a gallery of the above . . .

Oh, one more thing . . . the writers are working on the Z Stories for the Alphabet Challenge; they’ll likely go live this weekend.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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