Last Updated on January 17, 2021 by Jose Barrios
The bane of all real estate photographer is bad weather. It is unavoidable, and you cannot change it (at least not n real life). You cannot always reschedule the photoshoot either, after all, every day the property is not listed is another day it misses an opportunity to be sold.
So, your mission as a real estate photographer is clear, you need to deliver come rain or shine, so unless there is rain pouring down, you need to get the shot.
Photoshop Sky Replacement
In the last quarter of 2020 Adobe introduced its latest updates to Photoshop, and while many are great, the one as a real estate photographer that interested me was the sky replacement tool.
Replacing the sky in photoshop is not something new, there hundreds of tutorials and techniques for achieving this in photoshop. They are all great, but time-consuming, involving a lot of masking and color adjustments to make it look real.
In the past, I have recommended the purchase of Luminar 4, and even said that Luminar was one of three essential pieces of software that you needed for creating an effective workflow when editing your real estate photos.
Now don’t get me wrong, Luminar has more than paid for itself with the time it has saved me, but if I can eliminate an extra piece of software, I’ll do it.
Photoshop vs Luminar
There are probably a million reasons as to why one is better than the other, but in this specific situation, I’m only interested in replacing the sky in a photo.
I can sum up why I chose Photoshop over Luminar in three points:
1. No extra software to buy
Luminar might be cheap, but the truth is that I’m already paying for photoshop, and if I can get the same result in Photoshop, why would I pay for an extra piece of software?
2. Seamless workflow with Lightroom
Lightroom is the backbone that drives your photo editing and organization and being able to transition in a seamless manner between Lightroom and Photoshop is great.
Some people might argue that Luminar Integrates with Lightroom and photoshop, but in all honesty, the “integration” is not all that great. Luminar creates an extra copy of the file you are editing in Lightroom regardless of whether you keep or discard the image in Photoshop.
You can leave Photoshop open in the background so that it does not have to launch each time you need to edit a photo. Luminar on the other hand opens a new instance each time you edit an image from Lightroom and closes the program when you are done with it. It is a waste of time and it is annoying.
3. Total control of the image
Cloudy day house photo
The biggest reason that makes Photoshop far superior to Luminar is complete and total control over the sky replacement.
Unlike Luminar where you rely on a few sliders and a very deficient masking tool, Photoshop will create three additional layers in a group for your image:
Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.
This layer will contain your sky image and a mask
An additional layer with a neutral grey image created from the sky image set to multiply and masked to control foreground lighting.
This is a curves layer that allows you to fine-tune the colors to make the lower half of the image (the one with the house) match the sky you are placing.
This is your original image.
Image after sky replacement
You are now able to go in and manipulate all aspects of your photo with all of Photoshop’s advanced tools. You can use it in one pass things like Content-Aware fill, Clone Stamp, and much more, without having to switch from one software to another.
As much money as Luminar has made me with their sky replacement feature, not that Photoshop includes it, it does not make much sense for me to have both.
The time alone that I can save by not having to jump between platforms sealed the deal for me.
At the end of the day, it comes down to preference. What works for me might not work for you, everyone has their own style and way of doing things, and you must work with whatever makes the most sense to you.
“What can I say? I love taking photos of houses.”
Based in Orlando Florida, Jose is a real estate photographer specializing in vacation homes, working for realtors and property managers to make their properties look great. You can visit his site at JoseBarriosPhoto.com.