Playing with sky replacement

Jameel Hyder

Moderator
Staff member
I ran into this image from my archives and the plain washed out sky is why I never processed it. So I decided to give the sky replacement a shot. After I chose the sky, worked on the rest of the image to match the lighting. The reason for posting here in the critique forum to see what everyone things about how believable such an approach is.

C&C Welcome

5D_1428.jpg


Here is the image converted from RAW with no adjustments.

5D_1428-1.jpg
 

Ben Egbert

Forum Helper
Staff member
Something seems off. The foreground looks to be too early in the day for the sky.

The way I have been using sky replace is on a single image where I process for the sky and then the foreground and use the sky version in sky replace. It works pretty good on milky way images.

I have also played around with sky replace using the stock sky replace images in photoshop. I have gotten some nice results, but I have not been able to bring myself to post any.
 

AlanLichty

Moderator
I see too much direct sunlight on the cliff faces for that kind of sky color. Interesting notion to flip the ground layer to match the sun angle for the clouds.
 

JimFox

Moderator
Staff member
I am not a fan of totally changing the sky, I will just say.

We do a lot in how we process photos now a days to enhance an image, in most cases to make it pop more. But there is that realism that is still at the core of what most of us Landscape Photographers want to retain. To totally change the sky throws that realism out the window I think.

Everyone's different, but I know I couldn't do it. In Ben's case he used a layer mask to keep all of the stars and only wanted to replace the background sky behind the stars to make it darker I think? I did it once to try out Sky Replace, but mine was a totally blue sky that had gotten banded for some reason, so I wanted to see if it the Sky Replace would replace the sky with another blue sky. And the end result in mine was it looked identical minus the banding.

Jameel, you aren't the only one to have tried this, so you aren't alone in this. I just want to be honest that for some reason the whole idea makes me queasy. I am not trying to be holier then though either, it just doesn't sit right, and I would not be able to do it.

Although as I think about it, I know for Let's Play when we were doing that, I wasn't bothered when skies were replaced. So I am trying to figure out what's the difference. Perhaps because it wasn't my image?

Maybe finished images like this need to go into Digital Art instead of Landscape? I am just thinking out loud as I don't know. And it could just be me, and I don't want this to come across in a way where I am saying what's Right or Wrong or admissible. As artists we should have freedom to create our art.

Now on to your photo. I am not sure it needs to be flipped as Alan says. For me, the ground appears a bit too bright for the sky. So perhaps pulling down the midtones on the ground a bit to darken it and give it a more of a sunset feel?
 

Jameel Hyder

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for the critique. I agree on the mismatch of light on the ground vs. sky. Exactly what I wanted a confirmation on.

@JimFox , the philosophical discussion on whether this is a good thing or what we call it is a tangential discussion and to me there is not a right or wrong answer about it. The purpose to post here was really a critique on the result. There are likely as many opinions on this as there are people and the intent here was clearly not to pass this off as a single image by any means. This was just an experiment at best.
 

JimFox

Moderator
Staff member
I agree, there is nothing inherently right or wrong about replacing a complete sky.

We have been seeing more sky replacement recently whether it was in Luminar or now in Photoshop, so it seemed like a good time to air it out as I know people on both sides of this fence. Some who replace skies without a second thought and sometimes don’t say anything, and others who feel that it’s an atrocity to replace a sky.

I would hope we would take an unheated view of it here at FocalWorld, without bashing those who decide to replace skies. I am hoping others will see this discussion so that you others don’t get attacked because you replaced a sky in the future.

I will leave it at that.
 

Alisa

Well-Known Member
Nicely done. But I’m also one who is not a fan of replacing a sky.

My opinion is when we go out to photograph we are living in that moment. The feeling the moment gives me, good or bad. To replace a sky was like saying you saw this amazing sunset/sunrise when in fact it was just created. It to me then loses is “magic” and has no sense of life or feeling.

I applaud the skills to change and environment or mood but it’s not for me.
 

Jim Dockery

Well-Known Member
I'm with the others that the lighting doesn't fully work for me.

I've had fun and some success with sky replacement in Luminar and feel that anything goes in digital photography/art as long as you are not reporting the news or trying to tell a story that needs accurate photos to convey information. I do feel that a sky replacement should be stated when posting on a forum like this, or put in the art forum which is what I've done. In addition to the difficulty of matching light (which Luminar helps with) using the canned skies from such programs quickly becomes trite and jumps out to anyone who uses it much, thus loosing credibility. As an aside sky replacement in night photography where the sky is blended with a longer exposure for the earth so you can see some details has become standard work flow, but those also stretch credibility since that isn't what it really looked like when you shot it. To really achieve such a shot you need to balance a bit of moonlight in a single shot like Jim Fox does so well in many of his wonderful night scenes posted here. Of course that requires planning, timing, and conditions that don't line up often, but that is part of what makes them so special when it all comes together.
 

Ken Rennie

Well-Known Member
I don't have a problem with sky replacement but, to my way of thinking, finding a sky with lighting that matches the foreground may make it more believable than using a dramatic sky and boosting the rest to match it. Doing this leaves the land looking totally unbelievable or at least it does to my eyes. Ken
 
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