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Sky Replacements Tips for Architectural Photography

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist, if you shoot real estate, architecture, or landscape photography, you’ve no doubt had to replace skies in your images.

So today I’m going to show you five ways to tweak those sky swaps to make them fit your photos better. Thankfully, Photoshop has made it super easy to change skies these days, but the sky you want to use might not always match your scene perfectly. The first thing I like to do with my sky is to turn off the foreground color and foreground lighting adjustment layers that Photoshop automatically puts in the sky swap folder.

For some reason, this just never really works for me and the image almost always looks better without it. The next step I take to dial in my sky swap is to refine the edges. The AI behind Adobe Sky Replacement Action is great, but not perfect. So make sure to zoom in and clean up any spots around the edges where your sky might be overlapping your subject. This happens most often where the colors of the subject are a close match to the color tone of the sky. 

Once the sky layer mask is on point, try adding a Curves Adjustment layer to the mask. This will allow you to lighten or darken the sky so it feels more appropriate for architectural photo you are editing in Photoshop. After that, I also like to attach a Hue and Saturation adjustment layer to the sky mask. Now you can either bump up or tone down the saturation on the sky until you like the way it looks.

And finally, depending on what kind of sky you started with, you might try adjusting the opacity of the sky replacement group to blend it in just perfectly. It could be the final touch needed to make the sky replacement look absolutely flawless. Oh, and one little bonus tip I’ll add is that if you warm up your image, you might not want to warm up your sky, so you can drag your sky mask to your warming filter and invert it to make sure everything except the sky is adjusted.

There you have it. My top tips for replacing skies on architectural images.