I’m in two minds about this feature. The AI Augmented Sky filter in Luminar 4.2 is spectacularly effective at blending in all sorts of other-worldly objects into regular outdoor skies, even supplying a range of ready-made objects like these twin planets via a drop-down menu. The AI technology merges these objects with your sky so seamlessly and subtly that you might never need to tweak a single slider. All you have to do is choose an object to add and decide where to put it.
You don’t have to choose sci-fi elements like giant planets. I was a sci-fi nut in my early years, though, so this was a chance to create a sci-fi themed image. You need the right sort of foreground for a treatment like this to be credible, so I chose this shot I took of the futuristic Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral in Reykjavík. It was shot from up close with an ultra-wide lens to exaggerate the converging vertical effect and emphasise the sky.
You’ll find the AI Augmented Sky filter in the Creative workspace and it has a drop-down menu which I’ve pulled out and highlighted in red in the screenshot above to show the available objects. Many of these are perfectly ordinary terrestrial objects like mountains, clouds and birds, so this feature can be used for regular photography too – depending on how you feel about inserting objects into images that weren’t actually there.
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For this image I’ve chosen a deliberately made-up scene by choosing Planet 3 from the list (it’s actually an image of a double planet). All I have to do then is click the Place Object button in the panel and move the planet the too the place I want it, and drag on the corner handles to change its size.
All the masking and blending is taken care of by the AI Augmented Sky filter, but just in case something’s not quite right – for example, if the clouds covering the planet weren’t quite visible enough – you can modify the mask manually with Luminar’s regular Brush, Radial Mask and Gradient Mask tools.
And that is, actually, it. There is one more thing I want to do, though. The image still looks a little lackluster and I want to apply on of Luminar’s ‘Looks‘. But I need to do this without affecting or replacing the filter I’ve used already. The solution is to open the Layers panel and, create a new Adjustment Layer and then apply the Look to that. I’ve chosen ‘Warm Sunset‘ from the ‘Landscape‘ category.
And that’s it! It’s a pretty far-out look for just five minutes’ work, and it does show off the power of Luminar’s AI Augmented Sky filter. I didn’t need to choose an obvious sci-fi motif for this as there are plenty of natural terrestrial objects you can inserts – and if you’re worried that the skies in all your pictures could soon start to look the same, you can insert your own images too.
There is I suppose an ethical question. Is it right to insert objects into photographs that weren’t actually there? For a start, if your aim is to create an illustration rather than a documentary record, then there’s really no case to answer. Even where photographers are ostensibly capturing a real scene, it’s hardly unknown for them to replace a sky or add in a bird or a little sun flare to add to the interest. The danger lies, perhaps, in the new influencer industry, where individuals can make a great deal of money out of promoting their wonderful lives and the wonderful things people can buy to make their own lives just as wonderful. Skylum has done a great job on developing AI augmented reality technology that can achieve better results in an instant than many of us could achieve even with the most careful manual masking. What we do with this new-found ability is up to us!
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