Skylum Luminar 4 and Skies

Dec 12, 2019
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I would be interested in opinions from other Forum members regarding replacing skies in images (compositing). Firstly let me state I love playing around in post (in an editor after an image has been taken) and produce quite a few composited images. All parts of any composite are from other images I have taken. I do not use Royalty free or included textures (in the software or plugin). I do this as it is prohibited in UK photographic clubs. Similarly computer generated fractals and graphics are not allowed.

However we now have Skylum Luminar 4 (other softwares can do this but not as effectively so this is in no way a criticism of Luminar 4 which I think is excellent) that very effectively can swop a sky in your image with a provided copyright free library of amazing skies within it. No one wants to stultify anyone elses creativity but to use these skies (as opposed to those of your own added inside Luminar) would be breaching many competition entry rules. This is one of these 'elephants in the room ' that rarely get discussed even in photographic clubs as it is so difficult to police or prove.

In the past those that had the advanced photoshop skills to do this so 99% of photographers would not know and also (I believe) had personal standards to abide by the rules (of photographic clubs) and used their own skies proudly.

Things change.

Should we be more embracing of commercially supplied images as part (and possibly a main part) of images and what about in competitions? I am not suggesting or supporting any side here merely posing an unasked question? I would not like to be the judge that picks as a winner an image that looks fantastic but is made from images sourced from a Photo Library over an image taken as was at the time or where all parts are author taken.


Opinions please.
 
Dec 12, 2019
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I expected Admin staff and 'Official' DCW staff to run scared of the above question (I now expect a "I didnt see it it yet!") the posed question above is a hot potato! I imagine DCW will want to discus its position on software generated images and the use of picture library and other royalty free images before taking a stance. This stance should already be established for anyone running photographic competitions.
imagine we could all go to the worlds best image library buy two world class images and cobble them together in software and then promote as our own work? I guess we would all oppose that? That is no different from using someones elses sky (a la Luminar 4 for example) or a texture from an installed software library.
This forum will rapidly stagnate and die if the difficult discussions are not aired and discussed?
 
Dec 24, 2019
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Every development in editing software will spark discussions, and no matter what new inventions that is included, some people will always protest.
The fact that only "experts" could replace the sky before Luminar 4 is, in my opinion, beside the point. OK, it's harder for the experts to stay in front of the editing when the technology makes it possible for anyone to do the same - but I can't see that as anything but evening out the odds.
What I personally don't like much with Luminar 4 is the fact that more and more photos will look the same. Their AI-technology gives you normally one slider to use, and you can't do nothing to change what it does. Masking capabilities is bad, and the replace sky feature is lacking quite a lot, actually.
So, I guess we will have to accept the facts of life - technology moves forward. We get mobile phones with 200 mbit cameras, technology makes blown out backgrounds a breeze and it looks like you used a $2000 lens and so on.
I can't see that we have any choice other than accept facts, adapt to changes, and keep on our work with our photographs.

Honestly, folks. The interesting thing isn't how you made the photo, but what the results of your work is. Does the photograph look like you intended it to or not. If we go back in history, the old master photographers manipulated their images all the time - from photography was invented. And what was good enough for Ansel Adams is good enough for me.
 
Dec 12, 2019
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Thanks for the response Kent. The only one! Clearly Admins are running scared of responding to this one.

I agree that with automated editing the danger is that results may/will look rather similar. However I find fellow photographers work to show a distinct sameness such that I can detect that. I believe you mean sameness between different photographers? I agree this is very much a danger but the (more) creative will spot this and compensate.

I hope you have not misunderstood my original post where I certainly am not saying composting and changing images in any way is bad.

What I am saying is if a piece of software replaces a sky with a commercially supplied sky or even a photographer receives a copyright-free image by another photographer (either free or purchased etc) and uses that then their work becomes not by them. As a piece of art it is by them but in competitive and club photography it is expressly forbidden by the rules.

It is (or can be) impossible to tell when this has happened, hence my original post. It is (one of) the great 'Elephant in the room' undiscussed and unaddressed issues (hence Admins in here not answering). The same has happened when I have contacted photography institutions in the UK they merely restate the rules but cannot either operate or impose those rules?

I for one create many composites when I feel it benefits my image and produces a better result. Ideally I would be present when the perfect sky or ideal person appeared in the perfect composition but that is rare. However I only use elements I have photographed whether that is a sky or a texture. Indeed I often get 'funny looks' when I am shooting textures and people go and carefully look at perhaps a wall and walk away shaking their heads bemused. Lol.
 
Dec 24, 2019
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I hope you have not misunderstood my original post where I certainly am not saying composting and changing images in any way is bad.
No, I didn't think you were against composites. I just say that many photographers is slamming new technology, claiming it "ruins" the images. Make them "false", and they call themselves "purists".
In many ways lazy is a better word. They don't want to put in the hours needed to handle advanced software, and instead they are spending time slamming the ones that do.
To be even more pathetic, many tend to add a notice like "direct from camera" or they tend to tell that they have done little or nothing to the photograph. And why? To excuse a bad image, to give a reason for colors not popping? Personally I don't care what they say, since it's not anybody's business but mine what I do or do not do to my images.
On YouTube you will find many people who are skeptical to the new AI technology. And why? Are they afraid other people will start making as good pictures as them? Or are they scared of technology? The purist stand doesn't hold water. And the reasons is among other things these.

1) Nothing changes reality or "falsifies" an image more than making it B&W. No people what so ever sees in B&W - it's completely false. But that's OK. Why?
2) From photography was invented, photographers have been changing and manipulating their images. Even "purists" are using a wide angle lens, which makes an unreal image, since you can't see it like that in real life. And they use filters. Is that because they will force their viewers to use sun glasses, or is it to change the result?
3) How com old fashin methodes for changing the images is OK, while new ones are not?
4) What famous photographer has not been changing her or his images substantially? None!

Personally, I don't care one bit how you made your image. I never ask a painter what kind of brush he uses or how he mixes his colors, what kind of paint he is using, and so on. That's because the important thing is the finished result - and it's the same with a photograph.

What is NOT OK, in my view, isn't if you edit your images heavily or not, but how you present it. It's OK to use heavy editing, that's your artistic choice, but it's NOT OK to do that and pretend that it was "all done in camera" or claims that its just "minor color adjustments in Lightroom".
 
Dec 12, 2019
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Good response Kent. I agree there are certain type of photographers out there who boast about getting it right in camera and some of these are rather economical with the truth. While for qualities sake it is ideal to get as much; as time and opportunity permits, right in camera for those who perhaps are not at a location for more than a few minutes this is not always possible.
Many now eschew graduated filters and now do this in post. It is a choice and I am not sure all can afford to carry £600 worth of filters and therefore choose to do this in post. The techniques are equally valid but one carries more kudos.

There also appears to be another group of photographers who have a 'back story' i.e. How difficult it was to get the image. You know the sort of thing . Climbed a mountain at 1 am in the dark/wild camped etc waited 8 hours to get the image. It is as if they need to qualify the image? Images should speak for themselves.

On your point 4 I do suspect many name photographers have teams that light their images and even process and print their images. Perhaps again not all their own work? Opinions will vary on this.

On the veracity of an image I did see a beautiful winning landscape image a couple of years ago where the Eastern European photographer claimed they had 'scooped' the leaves out of a lake with a net to get that image. You might have seen it , a cyclist on a very slender arching footbridge over a lake/river in autumn. Truthful ..... I am not so sure.

Cheating and lying in photography is more prevalent than ever now and easier to pass off. You can even alter the exif meta data if you care to.
 
May 30, 2020
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I would be interested in opinions from other Forum members regarding replacing skies in images (compositing). Firstly let me state I love playing around in post (in an editor after an image has been taken) and produce quite a few composited images. All parts of any composite are from other images I have taken. I do not use Royalty free or included textures (in the software or plugin). I do this as it is prohibited in UK photographic clubs. Similarly computer generated fractals and graphics are not allowed.

However we now have Skylum Luminar 4 (other softwares can do this but not as effectively so this is in no way a criticism of Luminar 4 which I think is excellent) that very effectively can swop a sky in your image with a provided copyright free library of amazing skies within it. No one wants to stultify anyone elses creativity but to use these skies (as opposed to those of your own added inside Luminar) would be breaching many competition entry rules. This is one of these 'elephants in the room ' that rarely get discussed even in photographic clubs as it is so difficult to police or prove.

In the past those that had the advanced photoshop skills to do this so 99% of photographers would not know and also (I believe) had personal standards to abide by the rules (of photographic clubs) and used their own skies proudly.

Things change.

Should we be more embracing of commercially supplied images as part (and possibly a main part) of images and what about in competitions? I am not suggesting or supporting any side here merely posing an unasked question? I would not like to be the judge that picks as a winner an image that looks fantastic but is made from images sourced from a Photo Library over an image taken as was at the time or where all parts are author taken.


Opinions please.
The very reason I would NEVER join any photographic club is the snobbiness and up their own arse attitude towards certain practices or procedures during editing or the my camera is better than yours syndrome. Photography is supposed to be an art form and therfore should allow you the freedom to produce a image in anyway that you can employ and using whatever means are available. When I take a photo with my camera initially, I concentrate on the composition primarily, as this is the most important thing in my mind and is the basis of any photograph that I edit. I am not trying to produce an exact carbon copy of the image I see before me but instead I like to then enhance the image using two different editing programs, making use of any AI tools and film and overlay filters, textures etc until I am satisfied with my creation. As regards to using commercial skies and images in your own photos, I don't see that as a problem as long as it is not overdone or too obvious. I mean a photo made up entirely using a composite of several commercial images would not be very creative but using a sky to replace a bland or indistinct area of a photo is very acceptable in my eyes
 
Jun 14, 2020
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Thanks for the response Kent. The only one! Clearly Admins are running scared of responding to this one.

I agree that with automated editing the danger is that results may/will look rather similar. However I find fellow photographers work to show a distinct sameness such that I can detect that. I believe you mean sameness between different photographers? I agree this is very much a danger but the (more) creative will spot this and compensate.

I hope you have not misunderstood my original post where I certainly am not saying composting and changing images in any way is bad.

What I am saying is if a piece of software replaces a sky with a commercially supplied sky or even a photographer receives a copyright-free image by another photographer (either free or purchased etc) and uses that then their work becomes not by them. As a piece of art it is by them but in competitive and club photography it is expressly forbidden by the rules.

It is (or can be) impossible to tell when this has happened, hence my original post. It is (one of) the great 'Elephant in the room' undiscussed and unaddressed issues (hence Admins in here not answering). The same has happened when I have contacted photography institutions in the UK they merely restate the rules but cannot either operate or impose those rules?

I for one create many composites when I feel it benefits my image and produces a better result. Ideally I would be present when the perfect sky or ideal person appeared in the perfect composition but that is rare. However I only use elements I have photographed whether that is a sky or a texture. Indeed I often get 'funny looks' when I am shooting textures and people go and carefully look at perhaps a wall and walk away shaking their heads bemused. Lol.

Fortunately you can use your own skies easily, so it would be all yours. I don’t see a sky swap as anything more than a hdr or maybe even b/w. combining images has been around since the darkrooms early days.
Photography isn’t reportage, it’s art. It’s not what the sensor saw, it’s what you felt, or even what you think looks beautiful vs the dull flat sensor recording.


Unfortunately the software is brutally buggy, crashes endlessly, takes two minutes to export a photo, fifteen seconds to show the results of a soldier bump, and a minute to change photos in the library, with no preferences and slow patches. I preordered it and it’s still largely unusable for anything substantial, which is a real shame as some of the features are great.
I was disappointed not to see the major bugs and speed issues reported in the review here.
 

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