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Skylum CTO Dima Sytnik on replacing skies

The point to our software is to make a much more powerful and unique editing experience. To make awesome results much easier and to bring the results that people before were not even able to expect.” – Dima Sytnik

Dima Sytnik is one of the founders of Skylum (previously known as MacPhun) and its Chief Technology Officer. During a brief conversation on Skype, I asked him what moved the development team to build a sophisticated sky replacement engine.

“I had a lot of nice images but I never shared them because the skies were really boring or the lighting difference was very bad. Like these photos of New York I was really happy with the light but the sky was boring — completely dull.”

The NYC skyline complete with hazy sky by Dima Sytnik
Dima’s late afternoon skyline of New York with a typical hazy boring sky.

Replacing skies changes everything

Dima continues,

“But with this new technology I was able to breathe new life into my photos. It was just brilliant! I enjoyed revisiting all of my images that were previously very bad. I didn’t even try to edit them. I was really impressed with how I can go from mediocre image to awesome image because of relighting. And thanks to other smart filters that are being put into Luminar 4. I can turn my daylight photos into beautiful sunset photos with nice clouds. It’s really WOW!”

Sky replacement is hard

When asked what the toughest challenge to overcome in replacing skies Dima described it and the solution.

“Sky replacement is a very complex task. One of the challenges was to make the AI work with transparent and semi-transparent objects. We solved the problem so you won’t have to use masking or brushes. If there is a slight inconsistency, it’s easy to adjust with one or two sliders. Because it’s AI, we automatically find the horizon and the top of the sky; you can use any sky that you have. There will be guidelines on choosing the best skies for a scene when Luminar [4] ships.

“This means you really should get out your old photos and play around with different skies. In Photoshop it’s very hard to play around and get the best sky. You have to look trough Lightroom and try different skies again and again.”

The photo below is of a tree and the sky captured with it.

A canyon, a tree and a boring sky. Photo by Dima Sytnik.


Dima proves his point when he says,

“With Luminar 4 you browse those skies asking ‘Is this good? Is this one good?’ Then boom! You can replace them. This is an area where people can try their artistic side again. I really like this feature, especially on my images. I had lots of skylines that I would not show because the sky was plain. Now I can pick a sky and replace it quickly. Basically, I have to use this superpower before it was released to improve my Instagram photos.”

More features?

During our talk, I asked Dima if there were any other new features he wanted to share. He didn’t answer the question directly. I can’t help but conjecture — and this speculation is mine and mine alone — that there are many exciting, time-saving editing enhancements to be announced in the not too distant future. As they used to say on television before Netflix, stay tuned!

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