Sky Editing With Photoshop AI Update

I’ve been reading about the upcoming updates from Adobe to Lightroom and Photoshop. The new Photoshop 22.0.0 feature for sky replacement has been the feature I’ve been eagerly waiting to see.

My first attempt is encouraging. I have a number of landscape photographs that were taken on what we call “bald sky” days. The last two years of Autumn foliage trips have been ripe with bald sky days. I don’t let it stop me but I’d prefer to have something more interesting in the sky. Photoshop has solved the problem and from the looks of it, quite well.

Here’s a look at my very first attempt to fix a bald sky photo. Nothing complicated. The change isn’t drastic. I wanted to show a sky with simple cloud patterns rather than totally blue.

First shot the original raw file developed with a neutral preset. Nikon D750

Original neutral preset raw file.

Now, here’s the same image with an artificial AI sky inserted by Photoshop.

Photoshop AI sky generated image.

I don’t know about you, but the image with clouds looks better than the bald sky photo. Now, is the “fixed” image all that great an image? Well, I wouldn’t call it a work of art, but it does have some functionality from my view of the road.

This is a canned effect too. The flexibility of Photoshop will allow you to create skies from your own images and reuse them with the new sky tool as well. Plus the fine tuning aspect of the tool give you plenty of legroom to manipulate your sky image to a more refined look.

I have a butt-load of photos with bald skies that I have never edited and quite a few I have used in my stock photo portfolio. As stock photos, they don’t sell that well, but from time to time, somebody will buy one. Now, I can fix those bald sky shots and probably improve the sales of these types of generic shots, simply because they don’t have bald skies.

I dove down to the pixel level and the edges look very good, which if you’ve ever tried to edit a sky manually, those jagged mountain peaks and trees against a sky are darn right tedious to get looking nicely. Way too much work for me, I don’t normally dink around with the skies in my post processing beyond making minor contrast adjustments and/or adding a gradient filter. This photo at 100% magnification looks far better than anything I would have ever accomplished manually. It works.

Here’s a 100% crop of the mountain ridge in the right-center portion of the screen.

100% crop of the resulting AI render.

That passes muster.

So, I’m sure there are some photographers out there who think that creating a fake sky is cheating. If you are one of them, fine by me. To me though, there is no cheating in photography unless you’ve agreed to not create a fake sky for your client or constituents and do it anyway. When it comes to good photographic art, there are no rules. There are only good photographs. (my Ansel Adams quote, paraphrased)

As for the software update, it’s about time Adobe got back in the game. There’s been a lot of competing software hitting the market over the past couple of years and I was very close to buying one or two just to get the new features. Adobe has stepped up and created a very useful tool for those of us who aren’t afraid to cheat, err, sell more photos.