11 reasons why I love Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement

Architectural Photography with a new sky

After posting all this architectural photos last week on my blog I wanted to share what I have learned to date about Luminar 4.

So here are my 11 reasons why I love Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement. This is the outcome of an enjoyable week playing around with this wonderful tool on 50 commercial architectural photography images. I have taken 50 photos and made the sky look better, and in doing so have had a few ideas about using Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement in the future which opens up new possibilities for me.

I will use Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement on commercial shoots for clients when I have to take photos on cloudy days. That is how good it is.


I am a Skylum Affiliate. I have not paid for my version of Luminar 4. If you buy Luminar 4 using my Skylum Affiliate link I get a commission.

If you buy Luminar 4 and do not like you have a 30 day money back guarantee.

OK – on with the 11 things I love about Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement

1 – Speed – it is so quick.

Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement is super-quick.

In the examples I posted last week I did very quick edits of 50 architectural photos. These each took me less than one minute. Well they would have done if I was not recording myself talking about editing the photos or taking notes (in the end) of the skies that I used.

The 50 images were in a Lightroom Collection. So all I did was this

  1. Right click on the image

  2. Select Edit in Luminar

  3. Select the sky replacement tool

  4. Choose a sky

  5. Hit apply

And that was it.

The new image was saved back into the Lightroom collection next to the original photo – all done!

 Guildhall Square in Southampton by Rick McEvoy Photography
Guildhall Square in Southampton by Rick McEvoy Photography

I timed this photo and it took me less than one minute – I will produce some videos of this actually happening. And my PC is not the quickest, and my photos are on an external hard drive!

2 – Accuracy – quite remarkable

The masking is truly remarkable.

I will let you into a secret here. I do not like Photoshop, I do not understand layers, and I hate making complex masking selections. Well anything to do with layers.

Well I say I hate making complex masking selections – the truth is that I have never successfully done this. I have tried many times in Photoshop and managed to create 2 photos with new skies, but it took a long time and the quality was not great. This is not an option that I can rely on.

Check out the 50 architectural photos I published previously on my blog – they are all listed at the bottom of this post. The selection of the skies is truly remarkable.

I am not just saying that to convince you to buy and for me to get a commission. Just look at the backgrounds on some of the images.


 Scaffolding on a major refurbishment in Hampshire
Scaffolding on a major refurbishment in Hampshire


 Photo of a Dorset country residence by Rick McEvoy Photography
Photo of a Dorset country residence by Rick McEvoy Photography

I cannot think of more complex backgrounds to have to deal with, and the AI bit has coped with this miraculously well.

I would not be able to do this in Photoshop – this is a fact. I would not know where to begin with something as complex as this.

And a lot of my construction photos have scaffolding in them. And trees!

3 – The tool has advanced editing options

You can tweak various things in the process, which I will come onto next week.

 Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement Options
Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement Options

These are the things that you can do which I have had a play with and let me tell you they are excellent.

You can adjust the horizon if you need to.

And then there is the Relight Scene. This is very interesting indeed. This is why photos look so natural – the AI bit relights the photo so the sky makes sense. Now I am not expecting this to work perfectly for every photo, but the ones that I have quickly created looked pretty good to me.

And then there are the advanced settings

  • Close Gaps

  • Sky Local

  • Sky Defocus

  • Flip Sky – I have used this

  • Sky Temperature

  • Sky Exposure

Rather than me telling you what these do just have a play. Double click on ay slider and it goes back to the default.

This is now how I replace the sky in my architectural photographs using Luminar 4.

4 – Luminar 4 is fully compatible with Lightroom

I have over 70,000 images in a single Lightroom Catalogue. Luminar 4 does not have the same digital asset management capabilities as Lightroom so I am staying with Lightroom – for now.

What this means is that I am using Luminar 4 as a Lightroom plug-in.

Luminar 4 works seamlessly with Lightroom, saving edited images as new files right next to the file sent to Luminar.

Non-destructive editing

When I choose to edit an image in Luminar 4 from Lightroom the first thing that happens is that Lightroom creates a new file which it exports to Luminar. So the image that you have already created in Lightroom is untouched.

When I have finished my sky replacement I select apply and the changes are saved to that new file in Lightroom.

I like this a lot – I can continue to work in Lightroom which I have been doing for over a decade now and work in Luminar 4 whenever I want without changing a thing.

Seamless working

Working with Lightroom and Luminar is literally as seamless as working with Lightroom and Photoshop, which is quite remarkable.

I can dip in and out of Luminar whenever I want without changing my long established workflow and backup strategy. And anything new that I create using Luminar 4 is automatically integrated into my off-site backup.

5 – Luminar just needs adding to my Lightroom workflow

As I said, I have over 70,000 images in Lightroom, in a single Lightroom Catalogue. This is all my photos since I went digital. And I do not want to have to change from this.

So the fact that all I need to do is right click on an image and tell Lightroom to edit the photo (with Lightroom Adjustments) in Luminar is great. And also that once I have finished editing an image in Luminar I just select apply and Luminar processes the image and sends it back to Lightroom, putting the image right next to the original image.

Updating my workflow

I need to work out my revised workflow now that I have this wonderful new tool. Do I edit the image first and then swap the sky, or do I swap the sky and then do the edit?

For now I am going to edit as normal and change the sky at the end, especially with commercial clients. I want to offer them the actual photo, and the photo with the sky replaced as an additional thing. At the very least my client gets to see the reality and the enhanced reality with a better sky in, allowing them to make an informed decision.

Sort out my workflow and I have very quickly added a very powerful tool to everything that I have spent years setting up.

6 – There are 29 skies included

I will be publishing a post titled “These are the Luminar Skies”. I have added all the skies that are provided with Luminar 4 to one image so you can see them all. The photo I chose was taken from the Barfleur ferry from Sandbanks to Cherbourg, from which you get a magnificent view of Sandbanks, a view you only get from that ferry.

Here are a couple of examples, first the original, and one of the night skies!

Well why not??

 Sandbanks in Poole photographed from the Barfleur Brittany ferry
Sandbanks in Poole photographed from the Barfleur Brittany ferry
 Photo of Sandbanks with the Galaxy 1 sky added
Photo of Sandbanks with the Galaxy 1 sky added

There are some great skies in there, I really love the night ones which have given me so many ideas.

And that is another thing that Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement has given me – lots of new thoughts and ideas, and 50 new architectural photography images as well.

And the fact that I can change the skies in images so quickly and realistically means that I can now do commercial shoots on cloudy days which is massive to me being here in England! I will come onto that later in this post.

And I am sure that Skylum will be adding more skies in future updates too.

7 – I can use my own skies if I want

Yes, I can add my own skies. At the time of writing this I do not know how to do this, so this is something that I am going to work out.

One thing that I need to work out is how much of a sky is needed – if you think about this it is only the sky bit of an image that you need, so can you take a photo with a nice sky and use that? Or is it a photo of just a sky that I need?

I will find this out and let you all know.

And another question – do I need full frame and micro four thirds skies, or does it just not matter?

I will contact Skylum and include their response in a future post (email sent).

And I am also going to create my first product – skies that people can buy from me.

8 – The pictures look great

When I first heard about AI Sky Replacement I was sceptical – it sounded too good to be true.

Well it is true.

The pictures that I have posted so far look great. And remember that all I have done is select a sky and add it.

Nothing else.

There are more things that can be done, I just wanted to get some new architectural photos out there just so you can all see what is possible.

If you look at the pictures posted to date sure some could possibly be better, but a lot are great as they are and need no further work.

And for the odd image that needs a bit more work I will not be spending significant amounts of time on them – they will be quick subtle refinements to produce polished final images.

But the quick images posted do look great, so future images will only look better.

9 – Cloudy days are now not a problem to me!

I can now do architectural shoots on cloudy days and quickly get great images to my clients.

This is big news to me. I live and work in England. Well I do work abroad but that is personal work for other business interests where the sky is seldom a problem.

Check out my other websites

Photos of Santorini


Paxos Travel Guide

to see the other stuff that I get up to with my camera

Seriously I can now proceed with shoots that I would have cancelled before due to unfavourable weather. If it is raining I will not do a shoot unless I absolutely have to.

Having said that this a photo from a rainy day with a sky added.

 Photo taken on a rainy day!
Photo taken on a rainy day!

But cloudy days are fine now.

This is massive for me – I would say that on about 25% of the architectural shoots the weather is worse than forecast. And the weather can change on the day or during the shoot!

I will of course tell my clients in advance if I am going to work on the basis that I will need to change the sky after a shoot.

Are my clients ok with this?

Thankfully my clients trust me to give them the best images that I can. And they are also happy that I change the skies to make their buildings look the best I can, which is what architectural photography is all about after all!

And is also all that they want.

10 – I can make images taken on different days look similar

On some projects I take photos at various stages of the construction process. I did a before and after pair of images, and putting the same sky into both images was an interesting thing to do. This might be of use, and there might be some ways of using this on projects in the future.

AI Sky Replacement provides some interesting alternative options that I am excited to explore in the future.

I also can take photos from different shoots and make them look like a set

This is an interesting thought that came out of me processing the first set of 50 images. I take photos of numerous completed projects for the same clients. I can now make images taken on different days in different locations look like they were taken on the same day just by adding the same sky to both.

This is an interesting development which I am going to incorporate into some things I am working on soon.

11 – I just love using it

I really love using Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement. It is a joy to use and so so easy. It has brought fun back to my image processing which is a great thing.

When I select a sky I smile when it pops up – the result is so quick and so accurate and realistic it is remarkable.

So I am loving this one feature in Luminar 4, and there are lots more things for me to play with and learn to use in Luminar 4.

OK that is it – one more thing.

It makes me smile

Yes, Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement makes me smile. And that cannot be a bad thing can it? Smiling is good, and every time that new sky appears on an image I smile.

Try it and see if it makes you smile too!

I said this earlier. AI Sky Replacement sounded too good to be true. But it is not. I love using this tool and am excited to explore all the things that it can do, and also to introducing new skies of my own to images.

Further reading

Here are links to the 5 posts I wrote last week each featuring 10 before and after commercial architectural photography images, as well as the posts I wrote before Luminar 4 was released.

Luminar 4 and AI Sky Replacement are nearly with us!

9 New Luminar 4 Features I am looking forward to using

5 reasons why its OK to use Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement

50 photos crying out for Luminar AI Sky Replacement

51 more photos crying out for Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement

50 New Photos Created With Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement (Part 1)

Luminar 4 AI Sky Replacement to 10 Architectural Photos

How I now replace the sky in my architectural photographs

10 more new architectural photos with Luminar 4 skies

10 more architectural photos quickly transformed by Luminar 4

And don’t forget the video

I recorded a video on my You Tube Channel where I talk about the content of this post.

The lighting is dreadful so I ordered a new light.


The AI Sky Replacement tool in Luminar 4 on it’s own makes Luminar 4 invaluable to me. Once I have exhausted all the possibilities of AI Sky Replacement and incorporated this wonderful tool into my image processing workflow I will explore the other features of Luminar 4.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP

#luminar4 #luminar4aiskyreplacment #skyreplacement #architecturalphotography #rickmcevoyphotography

Rick McEvoy

I am Rick McEvoy, an architectural and construction photographer living and working in the South of England. I create high quality architectural photography and construction photography imagery of the built environment for architects and commercial clients. I do not photograph weddings, families, small people or pets - anything that is alive, moves or might not do as I ask!! I am also the creator of the Photography Explained Podcast, available on all major podcast providers. I have a blog on my website where I write about my work and photography stuff. Rick McEvoy ABIPP, MCIOB

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