My first sky replacement - Critique please

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Florida Nature Photographer
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My first sky replacement - Critique please
3 months ago

I am finally getting serious about doing more advanced post processing. Up until now I have been focusing my efforts on learning how to use my E-M1 and the quirks of each of my three lenses. I've been trying to learn about composition. And I've been trying to tweak more and more advanced in Lightroom.

This is the first time I've ever done anything close to this.

The first one is what I would have normally been stuck with after using Lightroom.

The second one is what I ended up with.

The third is where the new sky came from.

Let me know how I can do better.

My process was:

  1. Do as much as I can in Lightroom
  2. Edit in Photoshop Elements 10
  3. Use Topaz Remask to mask out the sky
  4. Back to Elements
  5. Find a sky that look decent in my existing photos
  6. File | Place and select my sky photo
  7. Cntrl - T to free transform to get something that looked nice

Do you take your own sky shots or use those you can find on line?

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DocJim65
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

Lovely sky, handsome car. Doesn't quite make it though.

My eye goes from front of car to red machine to the left, then to the bright clouds in the gap between those trees. I get stuck there and must force myself to look away from that path.

I applaud your efforts and it makes me want to try it!

Jim

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to DocJim65, 3 months ago

DocJim65 wrote:

Lovely sky, handsome car. Doesn't quite make it though.

My eye goes from front of car to red machine to the left, then to the bright clouds in the gap between those trees. I get stuck there and must force myself to look away from that path.

Thanks very much for your critique. I really do appreciate it.

I took this photo for the benefit of the car's owner and his sun. I was  stuck with a lousy day and the car was parked where it was parked. The owner is a farmer so he may like having some of his machinery in the shot.

Very helpful to hear your reaction to the composition, however. I will keep that in mind when I have more options.

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JohnLock
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to DocJim65, 3 months ago

I'm impressed with how Topaz Remask handled the job-- I just got it but haven't used it yet.  Selection artifacts can be seen at 100%, but probably not at 50-60%?  I like the work and just think I'd add a little shadow in the foreground and up on the car-- very lightly though.  Nice work, and continue to experiment and enjoy.

JL

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to JohnLock, 3 months ago

JohnLock wrote:

I'm impressed with how Topaz Remask handled the job-- I just got it but haven't used it yet.

Spend 40 minutes watching this video tutorial before you get started and you will save yourself a lot of frustration.

BTW Don't blame Remask for the 100% artifacts. Until proven otherwise let's assume it was beginner error.

I assume you were lured by the 50% off deal that just ended, as was I.

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to JohnLock, 3 months ago

JohnLock wrote:

I like the work and just think I'd add a little shadow in the foreground and up on the car-- very lightly though. Nice work, and continue to experiment and enjoy.

I see that your are right about the highlights. I was overzealous about trying to make the car look white. Do you like this better?

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Adamant
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

For skies, I've been having good luck using VSCO's ++Blue and ++Darken Sky presets.  It's remarkable what can be recovered with the E-M1's raw files.  Plus the end result looks very natural since you're seeing the sky in the original shot.

Topaz did a good job here, but I still feel like I'm in the Uncanny Valley when looking at these masked shots.

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Maklike Tier
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

Florida Nature Photographer wrote:

JohnLock wrote:

I'm impressed with how Topaz Remask handled the job-- I just got it but haven't used it yet.

Spend 40 minutes watching this video tutorial before you get started and you will save yourself a lot of frustration.

BTW Don't blame Remask for the 100% artifacts. Until proven otherwise let's assume it was beginner error.

I assume you were lured by the 50% off deal that just ended, as was I.

Wow, the Topaz masking tool is awesome.  Wish I had something like that 15 years ago!

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19andrew47
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

You could touch up some areas on the right rear of the car and the tree line by cloning or go back and retry the masking and try for a different result.  I have not used this particular software but have tried in a couple of other programs and there are a number of adjustments that can be made that may improve the edge selection in those.  Your second try has better highlight control.  This is a difficult task with this image because of the trees and the sky that will show through the open areas of the leaves.  I don't have enough experience with sky replacement to offer any helpful advice other than that I had to play with several variables in PSP to get the best outcome, which was still less than perfect.  Lots of trial and error.

As an aside, that car is in a lot better condition than the white 84 (looks like the same year as in your image) that sits parked behind my house.

Andrew

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baxters
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

Not bad for first try, but the back of the car by the rear window is chewed up. You can copy that part of the car onto an upper layer in Elements so it covers any changes underneath. The polygonal lasso tool would work.

I haven't used Topaz. Looks like it can wiggle it way around the leaves in trees. Cool!

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baxters
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to baxters, 3 months ago

Another trick that is less work is throw in a blue gradient in Lightroom. It screws up the tree colors a bit.

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JohnLock
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

FNP;  thanks for the video link-- will watch.  Actually I have quite few Topaz plug-ins, but yeah, the 50% off got me on that one.  I'm looking forward to getting into it.

JL

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Hen3ry
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Good stuff, and thanks for the tute link
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

Florida Nature Photographer wrote:

JohnLock wrote:

I'm impressed with how Topaz Remask handled the job-- I just got it but haven't used it yet.

Spend 40 minutes watching this video tutorial before you get started and you will save yourself a lot of frustration.

BTW Don't blame Remask for the 100% artifacts. Until proven otherwise let's assume it was beginner error.

I assume you were lured by the 50% off deal that just ended, as was I.

I've been using Topaz Adjust with great satisfaction for some time. I got Remask a little while ago but hadn't made great headway with it. Many thanks for the tutorial link.

I actually don't like the car in this pic -- too white and featureless. Cool car, though.

By coincidence, I was pootling around on a local bus today and saw someone tooling down the road looking super cool in one of the second model Corvettes -- the one with the double headlamps, metallic red in concours condition.

Cheers, geoff

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to 19andrew47, 3 months ago

19andrew47 wrote:

You could touch up some areas on the right rear of the car and the tree line by cloning or go back and retry the masking and try for a different result.

All right, you guys are going to turn me into a pixel peeper if you keep this up. I hadn't noticed that but when I went in to see what you were talking about it was kind of ugly.

Tell me what you think of my latest try... and yes I changed the color treatment a bit as well, while I was at it, so don't be afraid to critique that also.I'm including my second posted version for comparison.

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Lee Beasley
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

That's really nice. Now the foreground matches the sky. I'll bet he'll love that one. You need to get the Topaz light effects filter and toss a little glint on a bright spot or two. People love them. Nothing flashy... make it subtle.

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Lee Beasley, 3 months ago

Lee Beasley wrote:

That's really nice. Now the foreground matches the sky. I'll bet he'll love that one. You need to get the Topaz light effects filter and toss a little glint on a bright spot or two. People love them. Nothing flashy... make it subtle.

If you mean Star Effects I have it but I would never have thought to use it on a shot like this. There are no lights and no stars. How would you use it?

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windmillgolfer
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

Pretty good result Florida. Yes, there are a few imperfections, like the car body edge by the rear window. Mostly things that can easily be corrected. I suspect you didn't notice it because you were focused on the complex trees, which, with the help of Remask, look very good

I have Remask and need to put some effort in, so that usage doesn't require a read up every time. It is a wonderful product, so easy to buy, especially when discounts are on offer,  a tool to have in the armoury. But, like all tools, effort is needed to master them and get the best out of them.  I have Detail too, very good, and use it often for selective sharpening.

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Jim Salvas
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

I picked up Remask recently too, and have been using it to replace backgrounds in portraits. It can do an amazing job with hair.

You might find it helpful to post in the Retouching forum. Some of the people there are amazing. Too amazing sometimes, but amazing.

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Timur Born
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Florida Nature Photographer, 3 months ago

Artifacts aside (grass) I am not so sure that this sky works the way you used it. The clouds look strange around the horizon tree line, too big and unnatural. Look at your third image again, how the clouds look changes towards the horizon.

The left side behind the trees also kind of looks a bit like a tapestry/studio background.

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Florida Nature Photographer
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Re: My first sky replacement - Critique please
In reply to Timur Born, 3 months ago

Timur Born wrote:

I am not so sure that this sky works the way you used it. The clouds look strange around the horizon tree line, too big and unnatural.

How do I do better? Use online skys? If I go take my own sky photo, how do I do it best?

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