When Skykum gave us sky replacement features in Luminar 4 in 2019, it was a breakthrough that didn’t require masks and a lot of work. A whole lot of landscape photographers and real estate photographers loved the feature.
What was missing were sky reflections in water. You could create a lovely scene with a replaced sky, but if there was a lake, a river, any body of water, your new sky simply wasn’t there. There are ways to fix this, but they are manual, require new layers, and they didn’t match the ease of the one-click sky replacement that Luminar 4 was offering.
Today, Skylum gave us a sneak peek into their labs to see water reflections working with the new Luminar AI program, due out later this year.
It appears sliders have been added to the Sky Replacement controls, allowing for reflections, ripples, and smoothing. This is a major plus for Luminar AI. Adobe last month announced a sky replacement feature in Photoshop, but there was no mention of a date or if water reflections are included in this upcoming feature. Landscape Pro from Anthropics, an excellent application and plug-in for Adobe, has offered water reflections for years, but they don’t offer one-click replacement. You have to provide a mask to let the software know where the water is. In the animation below, you can see what a difference sky reflections can make when you’ve already inserted a sky.
Luminar says the new feature is due in 2021, so it likely won’t be seen in the first version of Luminar AI, something confirmed to me in conversation with Skylum CEO Alex Tsepko last month.
Still, for people who use and appreciate sky replacement, this new feature to provide realistic reflections is a pretty big deal. This can’t be easy to accomplish from a software coding standpoint. Other photographers have no use for any sky replacement technique, so this software will be of zero interest.
You can pre-order Luminar AI from the Skylum website. The company has also provided a quick video to show you the water reflection in action.