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How to Replace the SKY in ANY Photo in Photoshop Like a PRO!

Published: 23/11/2018

I recently ran across this video on sky replacement by Jesus Ramirez and was impressed by what a complete and easy to understand explanation he gives about how to replace skies in Photoshop.

We've talked about where to get skies for replacement before. Here is a recap of sources:

  1. The best source is to build your own collection of skies. That way you will have exactly what you need and like.
  2. There is a free sky library compiled over the years by PFRE readers. It is here. And there is a link to this library on the right side-bar under "Other Links"
  3. If you need a dramatic sky ASAP that you can't find above, you can also get a sky from one of the stock photo sites:
Larry Lohrman

4 comments on “How to Replace the SKY in ANY Photo in Photoshop Like a PRO!”

  1. Thanks for the links.

    One day when "snowed in" I'll have to practice it, and then some of the other techniques he's made tutorials for. I've shot clouds for future landscape use, but have not gotten around to using them.

  2. Interesting approach and acknowledges the problem with the straight selection process and the fine detail around the leaves, etc The fatal flaw in the video as it applies to RE is the original sky chosen to change. Solid blue??? While you may like the detail provided by intermittent clouds, it you have a nice sunny day with solid blue are going to deliver "as is". As far as the video goes, it demonstrated the power of adjusting the color channel for masking and retaining the fine detail in the trees by adjusting the blue in the RGB channels. Now let's get realistic, shooting on a dreary, overcast day with a gray sky, that may not conveniently be a single shade of gray with darker clouds. You have to adjust all three RGB channels just to get gray.

    It is a very nice feature in Photoshop and not typically used. Glad to know it is there. However, there are other programs that will do it easier and faster, such as the $50 Affinity Photo and several others using the similar masking technique but a less involved dual masking process - basic overall mask brushed on then refined along the border with a lightness/color sensitive brush selecting the sky but not the trees.

  3. I have to agree with Larry Gray.

    The narrator emphasizes that there are three steps needed to perform sky replacements using his technique. !.) masking in the sky 2.) matching the hue/saturation/luminosity between the original sky and the replacement sky 3.) adjusting the perspective.

    For the most part, the sky replacement described in this video is not the type of replacement RE photographers will encounter.

    I think that the vast majority of sky replacements done for real estate are not going to be replacing one blue sky with another, but rather replacing a grey, overcast sky with a blue sky with or without clouds. This fact tends to diminish the usefulness of steps 1 & 2 above.

    I am not saying that it is not worth your time watching the video, there is always something to be learned. But, as a guide to replacing skies in the types of situations we encounter in RE photography, not so much.

    Note: I recently submitted a PDF document detailing a sky replacement technique to this site.

  4. Larry, what the hell would I do without you and this blog?! A sky library? Are you freakin' kidding me?! I recently started compiling one, but it was going to take time being in southern California. Thank you for your service.

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