This photographer will never replace the sky in his photos

Nov 11, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Nov 11, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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It looks like sky replacement has been the most popular AI editing tool this year. It was first introduced in Luminar, then Photoshop, and finally Luminar AI. Judging from our tests, both Luminar and Adobe did a pretty good job developing the tool. But the question is: are photographers gonna use it?

From what I’ve seen, the opinions on this kind of tool are divided. Some photographers embraced it immediately, while others refuse to use it. Joshua Cripps falls within the second group and says that he’ll never use sky replacement in his work. In this video, he gives you some reasons for it, and he has some pretty good arguments.

It’s worth noting that Joshua talks about taking the sky from a photo you shot at a totally different location; or even a stock photo. The first reason why he is against the automatic sky replacement is that it doesn’t reflect your own experience. It doesn’t tell the story of what you saw when you were on the location. Of course, it can make the photo more aesthetically pleasing, but photos are not only “pixels on the screen or ink on the page.” A landscape photo is a representation of the actual moment that you had in nature, it’s not just about the aesthetics. If the photo is only aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t tell a story, it’s basically meaningless.

Another reason Joshua gives against sky replacement is that you’re cheating yourself in one of the most important aspects of landscape photography: experiencing the moments of unique beauty. It’s in a way related to the previous point.

Here’s another thing: to get the perfect shot, you have to take plenty of mediocre or bad ones. Getting the perfect shot requires patience, planning, and knowledge, and not just clicking a button to get a pretty picture. After all, the satisfaction is much bigger if you take the perfect shot after making some effort than if you just take a snapshot and then completely change it digitally in two clicks.

Now, there’s nothing wrong if you want to use sky replacement in your photos for whichever reason. Like any other editing tool, this one has its purpose and its uses. After all, it all depends on how you want to use your photos and what you want to do and say with them. But personally, I agree with Joshua. I also want my photos to be the representation of the moment I experienced. I want them to show the place that knocked me off my feet with its beauty. And I also find my best shots even better when I know that I made some effort to capture them. It makes me satisfy when they look good because I was there to capture the perfect moment, and I did it right.

So, just like Joshua, I’m pretty sure that I’ll never use AI sky replacement in my work. It’s fun playing with it to see what it can do, but I’ll never publish a photo with the sky from a totally different one. What’s your opinion on this? Do you use AI sky replacement in your work?

[Why I Will NEVER Replace a Sky in My Landscape Photographs | Joshua Cripps]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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17 responses to “This photographer will never replace the sky in his photos”

  1. Randy Dalton Avatar
    Randy Dalton

    Sort of like HDR. It can be a useful tool when properly employed, but can also ruin an image. Especially some of the presets that come in apps. I guess I lean towards realism in my photos and generally try to keep my adjustments to contrast and color. But hey, you wanna go crazy sometimes, who can stop you?

  2. John Boyle Avatar
    John Boyle

    That’s his choice.

  3. Marie Ferguson Avatar
    Marie Ferguson

    I’d rather run, grab my camera, click, when the sky is real. That is capturing life and being in the moment.

  4. Doug Birling Avatar
    Doug Birling

    I can see WANTING to replace the sky… we had planned a trip down the pacific coast highway a few years ago, I timed our trip for epic sunsets… and then it rained most of the trip! And not pretty rain with dramatic clouds… just the most uninteresting sky! And retaking it later wasn’t an option. It was at that point I realised I wasn’t always going to have a beautiful photo that was worthy of hanging on a wall somewhere, and that’s ok!

  5. Don Navarro Avatar
    Don Navarro

    That sky replacement tool isn’t all that. It replaces anything it determines to be sky even if it’s not.

  6. Alecio P Avatar
    Alecio P

    I tried on my picture and I did not like it, but I am pro choice, do whatever pleases you
    Ps. I am not a photographer

  7. Peter Young Avatar
    Peter Young

    Actually that’s three groups…..The third being those that don’t get all uppity about another person opinion. For me I take two shots then merge the two to make one knockout shot that I was originally looking for……

  8. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    It is a tool: use it when you need it, don’t use it if you don’t need it.

  9. BB Avatar
    BB

    Using Sky replacement tools means the outcome isn’t a photograph anymore but photo art that doesn’t reflect reality.

  10. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
    Arthur_P_Dent

    When you start using it to insert things that could never be there (for example, the Milky Way over a building that is near a downtown area [I’ve seen it]), then it is less than honest. I’ve had to add a Moon when I couldn’t get it exposed properly with the photo, but I pull it from a library of Moon shots I assembled of every phase, and I put it in the proper phase and size for that picture.

  11. Gary Bailey Avatar
    Gary Bailey

    They should all be covered over with a warning like the “fake news” posts. “Fake picture – this image isn’t a genuine photograph, it’s a photoshoped composite / abomination, would you like to reveal it, or should you just scroll on by?” – that sort of thing…….

  12. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    Life is like a box of salt, it will always make someone’s booboo hurt. Look, here the deal, (hehe I stole that), many times I see sky replacement and it looks like sky replacement. You can either like it or not, then move along. I love doing HDR and when I post for C&C, I also add it is an HDR. I also focus stack and do panos. A camera, a tool, does not see the way our eyes see. I like to reproduce what I see at that time. I also, as a geek at hart like to do the technical side of photography…to bring out what I saw through the lens. It is just like a painter that used colors to warm a sky or cloud it to reach a mood of what they are trying to portray. So photographers should take the sky and whatever else they want and let people know how they did it….with a grain of salt.

  13. g_discus Avatar
    g_discus

    How about free stocks photos with blowout white skies?

    I’ve “replaced” pure white sky few times for something like clouds. It looks better. Couple times I’d shoot photo by smartphone with clear blue sky and make else one shoot to another angle with clouds (the same place, the same time), then composed it by my hand with no AI.

  14. Asdf Avatar
    Asdf

    I look at as a changing of the art, if you’re artificially adding in elements such as changing the sky or reflections then its graphic design, if it’s photography stay within the confines of your photograph. This reminds of the argument when we transitioned from film and darkrooms to digital and photoshop. I guess a question you could ask yourself is If we are in a darkroom we were adding exposures on top of a each other and using different elements to produce effects on a print is that still a photograph?

  15. Michael Chastain Avatar
    Michael Chastain

    It’s no different than any other artwork. I can do a painting or drawing that does its best to accurately reflect reality, and that is a valid choice. I can also use creative license to create something abstract or that never existed, to reflect an artistic vision that exists in my head.

    It is no different with photography. Yes, there is something to be said for photos that accurately things as you saw them. There is also something to be said for creating something completely new that never existed. Neither is somehow inherently right or better, they’re just different. All I would say is that we should be honest about edits that significantly diverge from reality, although there will always be a messy middle ground that causes disagreement.

  16. G.B Avatar
    G.B

    Well that’s a non-story of a story.

  17. Matt Burt Avatar
    Matt Burt

    Agree 100% if we are talking about the art of landscape photography. Also I enjoy going back out to try and top the conditions I experienced before. That’s the excitement of getting a special photo. The exception would be in a commercial image. If that is what it needs then that is what it gets.