I don’t know how to feel about Luminar’s sky replacement tool

For those who don’t know it yet, Luminar’s sky replacement tool is very handy when you need to spice up a bland landscape photography. If it’s done in good taste, it could result in very good looking photos. You can go overboard with it and put a Milky Way right above a very heavily light polluted city.

The reason for this post’s title is a bit complicated. I don’t have anything against photo manipulation. Every photographer has a vision and sometimes it needs a push with the help of modern software. However, I can’t overlook when the author misleads the viewer for a profit. Then again, as long as the misleading part is just a sunset sky, who am I to judge? Here’s what I’m on about:

I saw this photo on an article promoting Bucharest as a tourist destination. The Shutterstock description: “Aerial view of the business district in Bucharest, Romania at sunset”. It’s a good picture. The photographer went on top of the Basarab Overpass to take this photo. Here’s how it looks from Google Earth:

I used circles to identify the most visible landmarks. From left to right: The New Vodafone Building, The Old Vodafone Building, Sky Tower, Administrative Building (Sector 1)

If you look closer at the compass from Google Earth, you’ll see it faces north-east. And that’s not where the sun sets in Bucharest. It’s not even where the sun rises.

I don’t know whether the photographer used Luminar to replace the sky. The fact that the same author has multiple skies on the same photo on Shutterstock makes it highly probable. Again: I’m not against such practices, however I do question the morality when making such photographs available through Shutterstock to travel agencies (who might not know better) who in turn use them to promote certain destinations.

What do you think?

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