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]