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Which scenes work best for sky replacement of night skies in LuminarAI?

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Night photographers often like to use tracking or stacking to reduce noise in the night sky. One of the main challenges is to try to blend the night sky with a foreground.

Which scenes work best for sky replacement of night skies?

Not all night foregrounds work. Determining which foregrounds blend effectively with a night background can save aggravation. Scenes with bright foregrounds and bright blue skies work best. But photos taken during the day are not always the best photos for making realistic blends. Blending blue hour photos generally looks more realistic than photos taken when the sun is out due to the light. Here’s how to do this in LuminarAI.

Five steps to sky replacement of a night sky

1. Open your photo

Open your blue hour photo in Sky AI. With your selected image open in the Edit panel, click on the Creative tab and select the Sky AI tool.

If Sky AI is inaccurate with reading the blend, try brightening the blue hour photo first. Brightening your blue hour photo and creating contrast between the foreground and sky before loading Sky AI can sometimes help the blend. This is especially true when blending complex foregrounds such as trees.

2. Load your sky

Load your sky by selecting your own sky with noise reduction or any other sky you have loaded on your hard drive. Click on the Sky Selection dropdown and select Load Custom Sky Image.

3. Maximize blend

Adjust the Sky AI parameters to maximize blend. You’ll probably want to adjust the sliders for Horizon Blending and Horizon Position first to get the sky matching your foreground.  After that, adjust the other parameters to make sure that you have closed the gaps and everything is looking good.

4. Relight Scene

After making the base adjustments for positioning and adjusting the gaps, adjust the Relight Scene slider to your liking. Along with this, if you so choose, you may also adjust the Sky Temperature, Sky Exposure and Atmospheric Haze under the Advanced Settings section.

5. Sharpen and adjust color

Let’s quickly make this look a little better. Spend a couple of minutes sharpening and adjusting the color and appearance even more by going to the Essentials tab and adjusting the sliders to your personal taste! Here, I’ve added a bit of glow, added some detail to the sky, and cooled the temperature of the whole scene slightly. I spent about two minutes with these adjustments.


Export file. Click on the Export tab. This will open a dialogue box as shown above. Select the parameters and location where you are going to export your file. Congratulations. You’ve just done a complex blend of a blue hour photo and a night sky in only several minutes without doing any complex masking. And almost all of it were creative and aesthetic decisions.

Not all night photos work. The best AI is still challenged by dark skies, although the technology is improving rapidly. For now, we can select scenes that have the greatest chance for a realistic, beautiful blend.

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Ken Lee

Ken Lee

I am a night photographer. I drive long hours in a dusty car listening to weird music, stay out all night creating photos, get dirty, hang out with other creative sleep-deprived weirdos, see the stars drift across the sky and always find the best taco stands while photographing forgotten abandoned locales and amazing nightscapes. I have one book published with two more on the way, and my images have appeared in National Geographic Books, Omni magazine, Los Angeles Times, Westways magazine and numerous other publications.

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