How to do a Sky Replacement in 2018
Over the last 10 years or more, this topic seems to have been one of the more popular topics asked regarding PFRE or similar forums that relate to real estate or architectural photography.
So, up until a year ago I had a technique that was just about 96% foolproof, but it took something like an additional 10-15 minutes per photo, or longer if the background included plenty of trees/power lines/satellite dishes/chimneys/ and/or inclement light (read late afternoon light for example where eg:..the powerlines were starting to disappear)... after processing .... to be so diminished that if that pic appeared on the web ... you could be opening yourself up to the "it don't look like that in real life at all" scenerio.
However what in 2018 was so relevant to the whole sky replacement thing was a couple of things;
1] that the gradient from the top of the photo to the bottom was exactly like "it could look on a normal day"
2] shadows on the home were close to "real life." As in the shadows on an inclement day would be different than on a sunny day.
3] light with relevance to sunshine angles (like those identical to what Google Earths shadow option would replicate)
4] serious consideration to be applied to the sun hitting the pic/ground, and where this is especially important when there are trees / poles / pergolas / outside swimming pools, bbq areas, etc. (To be fair a great sky replacement can actually make the viewer not even consider this, where-as a bad one .... well if it is a bad one ... then the viewer can quite easily look for, and find other parts of the pic that indicate its as "fake as.)
And I am happy to report in late 2018 - yup I have found a fix, and its called Landscape Pro from some folk in England. They also make another program that I have seen in camera / photo magazines for many years now, something called Portrait Pro which I think is up to version 18, so you can rightly get the opinion that they have been around for plenty of years.
I genuinely love this program for more than a couple of reasons.
Other than perfecting those 4 points mentioned above it has a couple of extra options that I just love.
1] option to add in your own skies
2] option to what they call "flatten the histogram" (basically use this on every sky replacement photo") Ask me if you can't find it.
3] and just for me down-under cause its so relevant - the ability to control / accentuate or otherwise the colour / luminance of the greenery ... I'm talking here about everything from the grass thru garden plants thru to trees. This is one of the brilliant parts of the program that help to make your photo so convincing.
So overall - from someone who earns their daily bread taking real estate photos every day, this program works for such a small fee, surely much less than one property shoot.