In October 2020, Adobe released a bunch of updates to Photoshop, one of which is the Sky Replacement feature. If you want to replace skies in your images, this tool makes it really easy.A lot of people have already done tutorials on how it works.
I generally don’t replace skies in my images, so it’s not much use to me. I don’t have anything against replacing skies if that’s what you want to do. For me, perhaps more important than what the final image looks like is being out there to experience beautiful and rare light events. Taking photos in mediocre light and then dropping an epic sky in later robs me of some of the things I enjoy most about photography…the anticipation, boredom, agony and sometimes thrill of the actual experiences.
While everyone was talking about the Sky Replacement feature they seemed to miss the addition of the less sexy Sky Selection feature found under Select>Sky.
Video: How The Select Sky Feature Works
If you have ever done any of my courses you know that creating a sky selection is part of my workflow for just about every image that features both sky and landscape. Sky selections enable me to have separate control over my sky adjustments and landscape adjustments if I need it, which is almost always.
Examples where sky selections were helpful in separating sky/land adjustments
In the past, I always did this either by using the quick select tool to select the sky and then refining the selection in Select and Mask. This makes a very precise, hard-edged sky selection. Or, if I need a more feathered sky selection for exposure blending then I create a modified luminosity mask that is white in the sky, black in the land and let the luminosity selection determine the transition.
Both of these are great but take a bit of time and effort. The new Select Sky feature creates a sky selection with a single click. When you run it a sky selection is auto-generated for you. It’s a great new time-saving addition to Photoshop. Give it a try.
Sean is an outdoor photographer, digital image developing enthusiast and photography educator based in Ashland, Oregon, where he resides with his wife and two sons. His previous career as a science teacher makes photography education a good fit. Sean teams up with fellow Photo Cascadia members leading workshops. He also teaches digital image developing classes, lectures and offers a series of Photoshop video tutorials.