Fine art photography by Craig Boehman.
Adobe Photoshop was re-launched just a few days ago and features new AI tools to compete with the likes of Skylum's Luminar. It's the first time Photoshop users will be able to use AI tools like sky replacement without having to rely on third-party plugins or stand-alone editing suites.
While I'm personally not a fan of sky replacement in my usual workflow, I admit that the prospect of replacing bland skies with something more dramatic is enticing in some of my fine art photography images.
So how well does sky replacement work in the brand new Version 22.0? I have to say, pretty damned well. I'll note here that there are two separate functions for the sky replacement feature, both located in different drop-down menus.
Select Tab The first place I found the new 'Sky' option was under the Select tab. When you click on it, Photoshop will make an excellent selection of any image you've got with the sky. Is it more effective than the other manual selection tools for selecting skies? Oh, yes. In one complex image I chose to run the selection, Photoshop was able to easily select background, midground, and foreground elements with ease. You can double-check the effectiveness (and refine your selection) by clicking on 'Select and Mask' after making the initial sky selection.
I think any long-time Photoshop user will be able to see the improvements in Adobe's Sensei - the AI engine underneath Photoshop's hood. The great thing about using this sky selection tool is that one doesn't have to replace the sky in this mode. Photographers can simply make adjustments to selections to further enhance their images.
For those looking for a bonafide sky replacement tool, then look no further than the edit tab and then scroll down to 'Sky Replacement' right there in the middle of the drop-down menu.
When selected, a box will open up with sky options and sliders. Newcomers and old alike may initially be disappointed with how few available skies there actually are but there is an option to add your own.
I edited this image using one of the skies in the options to show how well even basic skies work. I only made minimal adjustments to the sky and its blending into my image. The most-effective and yet subtle tool to make quick blending easy is the 'Lighting Mode' tool under 'Foreground Adjustments'. There are two options currently here: 'Multiply' and 'Screen'. I don't know why Adobe didn't make all the blending modes available here as they do in other tools, but maybe they will add these in later versions.
You'll also notice that I cleaned up a lot of the trash and clone-stamped out the man in the midground in the below image.
The thing that blew me away was the fact that I didn't have to use any brush tools to clean up the sky selection. Like the sky replacement feature in Luminar, the selection was clean and mean, which leaves the photographer free to immediately adjust the transition and to make any lighting adjustments to the rest of the image in order to match the new sky.
At the end of the procedure, Photoshop outputs the selection into layers as a group. One could then toggle on and off the group to see how the effect looks before and after. More savvy Photoshop users may then move forward with adjusting the group by utilizing a layer mask or by linking additional adjustments to the group.
Sky's the limit.