Reflections are one of my favorite subjects. I’ll admit, though, I’m not one to do the whole sky replacement thing, especially when reflections are involved. But, it is fun to play and see what can be done with the improvements made to LuminarAI.
One of the updates they’ve made is how the sky replacement works with reflections in the water. Now, LuminarAI sky replacements will automatically reflect in the water in your image. I tested this out with a few of my images. It also works great in the upcoming Luminar Neo software.
In all three of these images, I started in Lightroom Classic because that is my main post-processing tool of choice and it’s where my library is organized. Before moving to LuminarAI I did my usual profile correction, spot removal and straightening. Then I went to Photo > Edit in > LuminarAI.
Using LuminarAI as a plug-in works great for me. Once the images opened in LuminarAI I used the EnhanceAI and increased it to +36. That seemed to get the images to a good place overall.
Reflections in a calm river
For this image, I chose the Blue Sky 2 replacement sky. All you have to do is click on it in the menu and it magically populates your image, replacing the original sky. From there I went into the SkyAI menu and made further adjustments. Under the Orientation menu, using the Horizon Blending slider I made sure that the horizon line of the sky meshed with/behind my original horizon line. I adjusted the Horizontal Offset a bit until it just looked right to me.
In the Mask Refinement section, tweaks were made with the Close Gaps and Fix Details sliders as well. Then, under the Scene Relighting module, I adjusted the Relight Strength and Relight Saturation to my liking. Lastly, under the Sky Adjustments, I increased the Atmospheric Haze slider a little to lighten up the sky a bit. I ended up leaving the Reflection Amount slider at 50, which is the default. I did make one final adjustment using the Landscape tool and increasing the Foliage slider a bit to enhance the color of the trees.
Chicago in the Lincoln Park pond
I really wanted to give some architecture a try using the sky replacement tools in LuminarAI so I grabbed this shot from the pond at Lincoln Park just north of the city. Here I chose the Dramatic Sky 2 from the sky replacement options.
Again I went into each menu under the SkyAI module and adjusted sliders to make sure the replacement looked realistic and wasn’t covering buildings or creating gaps between the sky and buildings. For this image, I increased the Reflection Amount slider to +82 so that the sky showed up a bit better in the pond.
Arctic Milky Way
OK, this one is a stretch for me. I’m not even sure you’d see the Milky Way in this position here in Svalbard. However, it’s a great way to test the app and push it to see what it can do.
I ended up cropping out the sun reflection from the bottom of the original because it just didn’t work well with the sky replacement reflection. This one took a bit more tweaking and really watching where the gaps were and where the sky decided to fill in on top of snow or ice. It seems it had a little bit of trouble when there wasn’t a significant definition.
I actually tried replacing the sky on a few of my arctic images and had the same issue. The snowy mountains and white ice ended up having bits of sky showing through in places.
What I learned about LuminarAI sky replacement with reflections
It’s nice to know there is an option out there and LuminarAI does a pretty good job with sky replacements. Adding the reflection feature is something that definitely helps make images look more realistic when replacing skies.
I did find that if you have a decent sky and reflections already that it was a bit of a struggle to get the replacement reflections to work very well. It left remnants of the original sky reflection and just didn’t quite look right. Images that worked best were no cloud skies and calm, mostly still waters. That said, this is all new to me so I’m sure with some further exploring and learning how it works, I will get better results with other images as well.
Either way, it’s fun to be able to do this simply and easily without going into Photoshop, masking and spending time there. For someone like me, who doesn’t use Photoshop much for post-processing, this is a huge time-saver.
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