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Sky replacement tool in Photoshop


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What does everyone think about using the 'sky replacement' tool in the new version of Photoshop?

 

First of all, it is amazing that, at the click of a button, the dull sky can be replaced seamlessly and the resulting image looks great and makes an average picture so much better.

 

However, I feel very uncomfortable using it.

 

Does it matter that the image isn't a true representation of the scene? I don't do news but I wouldn't use it on those types of pictures. But for, say, a travel image taken on a dull day, is that OK? You could have gone to the site the next day in perfect light conditions and captured more or less the same as the enhanced image. But you didn't, and that's what makes me feel uncomfortable using it.

 

What do people think? Also what do Alamy think?

 

John.

Edited by Stokie
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I’ve been using Luminar 4’s sky replacement for some images I have on FAA, but I’m up front about it and call it digital art. It’s an amazing tool. I would say it’s probably fine for stock. Alamy used to have a check box for digital manipulation in the image manager. I’d probably include a notification about it. Also, Be careful with using the provided skies. I saw a landscape image posted on one of the photo forums that had a Luminar canned sky that I recognized immediately. The big issue was the sky has the sun shining through clouds, but the landscape was lit by the sun coming from behind the photographer. The guy caught a lot of grief for it. So be aware of where the light is coming from and make sure the sky matches it.

 

I’ve also found it works for background replacement with headshots and portraits.

Edited by TABan
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I'm  not comfortable with the digital manipulation (except for purely "artistic" work) of images -- e.g. removing and adding people or objects. I think that it is dangerous and has had negative effect on photography. People, including myself, no longer trust what they see in photographs. This is a very disturbing trend IMO. It used to be said that the camera never lies, but that can no longer be said of the photographer.

 

However, replacing skies is usually fairly benign, and I've experimented with it myself on occasion. I never feel totally guilt-free about it, though.

Edited by John Mitchell
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2 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

Are there any copyright issues or usage restrictions with the skies that Adobe is providing?

 

Mark

 

Good point.

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No copyright issues from what I understand on the Adobe Stock forum but if you use one of their limited number of skies, it may well be noticeable. It is easy enough to add your own skies so the images are yours. 

I tried it out with some images I took on a trip when we had several days of gray dull skies and it really brightened things up. Using my own skies on non-editorial images seems fine. I'd rather wait for the perfect light and the perfect sky but when you drive for 5-7 hours to shoot stock and spend days staring at dull gray skies, it's nice to be able to make turn those shots into more salable images. You can't always go out the next day and get a better sky. 

The tool really does a remarkably good job and it is very fast. The idea according to Adobe is to let you spend your time being creative rather than spending hours in Photoshop masking and replacing the background. Given the ever lower prices for stock images and the ever growing competition, a tool that lets you rescue images and make them appealing is a good thing. 

Changing a dull sky to a blue one does change the story, but I doubt that a tourism bureau will mind. People use focus stacking for macro images and while this provides a scene closer to what the viewer saw, it is still not the scene captured by a single click of the shutter. The way I see it, being able to use Photoshop and other software to make your images stand out is part of learning to be a better photographer, just as learning to print beautifully in the darkroom was an important skill in the old days. I remember spending time with a cutout cardboard sheet under the lights of the enlarger dodging and burning in the old days. No one would fault you back then for your failure to avoid lens flare in camera, or the inability to get as broad a range of tones in the actual negative. It's the 21st century and digital cameras and software are here to stay. 

I try to spend as little time as possible in LR & PS, but if a few more minutes can rescue an image, I see that as a plus.

 

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22 minutes ago, Marianne said:

I tried it out with some images I took on a trip when we had several days of gray dull skies and it really brightened things up. Using my own skies on non-editorial images seems fine. I'd rather wait for the perfect light and the perfect sky but when you drive for 5-7 hours to shoot stock and spend days staring at dull gray skies, it's nice to be able to make turn those shots into more salable images. You can't always go out the next day and get a better sky. 

.....

 

The way I see it, being able to use Photoshop and other software to make your images stand out is part of learning to be a better photographer, just as learning to print beautifully in the darkroom was an important skill in the old days.

 

 

I fully empathize with your statement. As we speak, I am working on a series of images taken in a very remote location, about 800km from any decent size town. 

I drove there in the evening hoping for a nice sunset. It was 40mn drive from where I was camped (in addition to the 800km). By the time I got there, the weather had changed and the sky was totally overcast. I was really frustrated. I decided to drive again to the spot early morning next day. I woke up to a completely blue sky, not a cloud in sight. I was elated. Drove 40mn, climbed the sand dune and it's overcast!!  A bit better than the day before with the sun playing hide and seek with sometimes some interesting cloud formations.

 

I'm trying to make the images more vibrant by using Colour Efex Pro. The trick is not to overdo it, something I'm not very good at. I have no plan to drive there a third time.

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21 hours ago, Marianne said:

 

Changing a dull sky to a blue one does change the story, but I doubt that a tourism bureau will mind. People use focus stacking for macro images and while this provides a scene closer to what the viewer saw, it is still not the scene captured by a single click of the shutter. 

 

This is not comparable at all.

One is 'changing' reality and the other is 'presenting' reality necessary due to the limitations of lenses etc

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I think I will use the feature sparingly to rescue otherwise unusable images.

 

When we get some nice skies again I will take some of those to add to the choice of images so that it won't always be obvious that the sky has been changed.

 

John.

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It's not something that appeals to me but I'm not coming over all 'purist' about it, I manipulate my images in terms of all the usual controls and I'm not averse to removing a distracting reflection, a bit of litter or birds from the sky. I imagine its widespread use is going to cause landscape photography competition judges a few problems. 

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On 08/11/2020 at 15:30, Martin L said:

This is not comparable at all.

One is 'changing' reality and the other is 'presenting' reality necessary due to the limitations of lenses etc

 That's what I said, it's not the same thing but it is a way of using technology to do something you can't do in camera. 

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On 07/11/2020 at 18:38, gvallee said:

 

I fully empathize with your statement. As we speak, I am working on a series of images taken in a very remote location, about 800km from any decent size town. 

I drove there in the evening hoping for a nice sunset. It was 40mn drive from where I was camped (in addition to the 800km). By the time I got there, the weather had changed and the sky was totally overcast. I was really frustrated. I decided to drive again to the spot early morning next day. I woke up to a completely blue sky, not a cloud in sight. I was elated. Drove 40mn, climbed the sand dune and it's overcast!!  A bit better than the day before with the sun playing hide and seek with sometimes some interesting cloud formations.

 

I'm trying to make the images more vibrant by using Colour Efex Pro. The trick is not to overdo it, something I'm not very good at. I have no plan to drive there a third time.

 

Exactly, you never want to overdo it.

 

I don't plan to use it to add dramatic skies to every image I take, since that would cheapen the value of images where I catch a truly gorgeous sky naturally. Normally, I spend hours and days going back to get the best light, and I don't want people to assume that my best images are composites. But for those times when you put in the days and hours waiting for good weather that never comes hundreds of miles from home, this tool is a big help, as is
Color Effex Pro, which can drastically alter an image if you use a heavy hand. 

 

I feel your pain and hope that Color effex pro can help in your situation. Retuning to the same location or waiting days (4 in the example where I replaced the sky) only to have every one be gray is disheartening. I would not use these tools, particularly sky replacement, in an editorial image nor in a landscape photography contest, but using them to sell a commercial stock photography image is very different. In my situation I used a sky that I had taken on a past trip to a nearby location. I would have been back there a couple of times this year in spring and autumn if not for Covid, and had intended to try to re-shoot the images taken on those dull gray days. Instead, I salvaged a couple using a new sky to make a composite image.

 

Stock photography is a tough business. A tool that helps me potentially license originally unusable images is a good thing. 

 

Color Effex was useless on my images since it was flat gray, not a hint of color to tease out below the surface of the sky, although it did help me tease out some color in the foreground and buildings. I added a plain vanilla blue sky with a few white cumulus clouds from an older image, nothing shocking or fake looking. The light was very flat in the original two images I chose, and the sky is plain to go with that. I'd link to it here (it passed QC) but given the negative comments, I don't feel comfortable doing that. 

 

 

Edited by Marianne
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When I'm out capturing images, I'm a photographer. When I'm editing for stock, I'm a painter. In the film era, I once spent $350 to have the color of a swim suit retouched. Try to find a cigarette butt in any of my images. 

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I've never really seen the point in it myself, and unless you are an exceptionally good editor, anyone who knows what they are looking at will be able to immediately spot the edit. I can't really put my finger on it but you can just tell. Along with pictures that have fake sun discs added or full moons substantially less than 180 degrees away from a rising or setting sun. Yeah, no. I think this is a totally different kettle of fish to "retouching" images including removing distractions like birds in the sky or lamp posts growing out of people's heads.

 

There is a place about a 40 minute drive from me that I have been waiting almost a year for the sunset to come into the right position to photograph. The last two times I went there it has been thick fog. I will get it eventually, and when I do it will be worth it. I won't be adding any fake skies.

Edited by Cal
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12 minutes ago, Cal said:

There is a place about a 40 minute drive from me that I have been waiting almost a year for the sunset to come into the right position to photograph. The last two times I went there it has been thick fog.

I think I'm broadly with you there, but I could probably be tempted if there was a hot and dusty 800km drive involved. It struck me last night that although I'm happy to remove birds from the sky I'd be very reluctant to put any in for effect, a soaring Red Kite for example, which would be easy even with my lowly version of Photoshop. Perhaps I am a purist at heart.

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52 minutes ago, Phil Crean said:

Just thought I'd throw this into the mix...😉

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combination_printing

 

Good point, the early plates didn't have the dynamic range to capture all the tones in one exposure, that article cites Hippolyte Bayard for discovering dual negative printing whereas I'd recently read it as Gustave le Gray's innovation.

 

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/gustave-le-grey-exhibition/

 

I suppose that once you've assembled a lot of 'sky' images it's going to be straightforward to start swapping them around, which is where this thread came in of course.

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My parents married in 1934. The wedding photograph did not work out for some reason. A week later the guest assembled again for the wedding photograph, all suitably dressed. Unfortunately one guest had returned to London so he sent a negative of himself, which was then incorporated into the wedding photograph. So it was 'photoshopped' in 1934.        

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I'm caught up in testing out this new Sky Replacement tool. If you click my blue number (on 12 Nov), you'll see that I've used it on 6 of the most recent 17 images. Some are obvious but others are not. 😎

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Had some where gray against gray was grey.  This is the first one I've submitted and one of the keywords is "sky replacement."   2DABX6T.jpg

Seneca Rocks, West Virginia.   Not likely get get back there anytime soon.

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'This is the first one I've submitted and one of the keywords is "sky replacement." '

 

Really? I would not be that revealing and honest about my workflow. 

 

2DA8YJ1.jpg

Edited by Ed Rooney
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1 hour ago, Ed Rooney said:

Really? I would not be that revealing and honest ad my workflow. 

 

Maybe someone will want it as an example of a sky replacement?  The original with the gray sky is also in my portfolio.  

 

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I think it’s fantastic how photo editing has evolved, very early on I decided to keep all the digital photos I took, hard drives are cheap, my thoughts were that the software would get better or my skills using Photoshop would or both. Now I can go back and take a second look at some images I had passed over and maybe add to my portfolio. I have used the replace sky on one image but the sky portion is very small but needed to be blue rather than blown out.

 

Having said that my usual workflow is to preserve the highlights and raise the shadows when editing, which keeps the sky from usually blowing out.

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