In the most recent version, Photoshop introduced “Sky Replacement.” Skylum’s Luminar 4 has Sky Replacement also. I thought it would ‘fun’ to compare the two. Since we’re Sheltering-In-Place, it seemed like a reasonable project to help pass the time. One thing I must mention — while you can replace the sky in an image, you can also end up with an obviously fake image.

This image is my example. The top of the wave is fairly complex; I thought that would be a good test. This image is of particular interest to me because several years ago I spent hours replacing that sky. I think you can see why I thought it was a candidate for sky replacement. And, as always, click on an image for a larger version.

First up, Photoshop. I initially thought I would accept the default settings on each app. After a couple of passes, I dropped that idea. However, I did accept the sky placement chosen by the apps. As you will see, the sky is in slightly different positions between the two. That’s easy to change in either app; PS makes it even easier because you can just drag the sky around to where you want it.

So, I first processed the image in ACR. Then, in PS, I used one of my images for the replacement sky. I used my image for the sky instead of one of the ‘built-in’ images because I wanted to use the same image in both apps. Both apps support that.


On the left is the PS result. Not bad, right? On the right, the Luminar 4 version. The original image is a DNG. The camera used is long gone. But Luminar had no problem opening and processing the image. I adjusted the image as best I could. One hang up was I could not bring up the shadows as much as I had in PS. Luminar does support layers so it could be I could work around that.



While both look good when viewed separately, there are some problems. On the left is detail from the PS version and on the right the Luminar version. Luminar took out more of the wave than did Photoshop. In fact, there’s quite a bit missing. Except for the ‘notch’ on the left, you might think I used two different areas.

I should point out that I have not been using Luminar though I’ve had it for a long time. I obtained Luminar 4 because it was included with something I purchased. I might be able to adjust Luminar’s sky replacement to be closer to Photoshop’s but wanted to see just how both apps performed without much help. So, what’s my conclusion? If you have Photoshop, go with that. If you don’t, but want to replace skies, Luminar would be a reasonable alternative. I didn’t try ON1 – I don’t have a recent version.

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