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Go from Drab to Fab by Replacing Skies

In Michigan, we get a lot of gray days. But as photographers, we can’t let the weather hold us back. Let me show you how I used Luminar 2018 to replace the sky and make my image more engaging.

Preparing Your Image

In my case, I had already had an image that I processed in Luminar. I did some clone stamping and really played around with the tones, making for a blue-ish, cool tone. But the sky was completely flat, despite using the blue tone present.

Choosing a Sky

While I loved how my photograph turned out, I knew I wasn’t getting any depth or other elements into my sky without digitally recreating it. Luminar lets you use any image file to bring a sky into the photograph, so I went ahead and downloaded one from Adobe Stock.

Because my photograph was taken after sunset, I wanted the sky to be darker. There was also a lot of fog present, so it was important for me to go with a sky that wouldn’t remove these aspects completely.

Replacement

To get started, I clicked on the + button at the top of the Layers panel. I then clicked “Add New Image Layer.” From there, I found the stock photo I had downloaded, and it immediately appeared in Luminar.

Then, I clicked on the brush icon on my image layer and chose a gradient mask. I clicked and dragged my gradient mask down it started about halfway through the lighthouse.

From there, I clicked the brush icon again, chose the brush, and made sure that “Erase” was set in the brush properties. I clicked the “Show Mask” icon and brushed over the lighthouse.

Depending on your image, you might have to zoom in and carefully outline the subject. If you erase too much, you can switch “Erase” to “Paint” to put the mask back on the parts of your image.

If you have trouble with the contrast between your subject and the sky, bring down the opacity on the brush and paint the edges of your subject. This will help to feather out the mask and make it more realistic.

While I liked the sky, I felt like it was overpowering the lighthouse quite a bit. I took back the opacity of the image layer to 44 percent and was pretty happy. I then added the Develop filter and got rid of some of the purple aspects, bringing in more of a true blue sky.

Finally, I used the HSL filter to tone down the blue hue, adjust the saturation and bump up the luminance.

Conclusion

We can’t always rely on Mother Nature to give us striking skies, and that’s where the ease of replacing skies in Luminar comes in handy. Next time you have a gray day, don’t stray — replace your sky!

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