Dronie Sunday – 16 May 2021

Yakima Valley, Washington.

This week, I feature a view of the scenic byway, State highway 821, that parallels the Yakima River in Washington. We stopped along the way for still images, but I also took advantage of a relatively windless day to launch the Mavic Air at some of our stops along the way. You can see more of the images I captured on that scenic byway here.

About the photo: This image is an altered reality. As the sky was somewhat smoky from wildfires in the state, I decided that in the interest of artistic license, I would use Luminar AI’s sky replacement function. This photo was captured in the late afternoon with the sun actually higher in the sky than it appears in the final image.

The workflow started with a simple image captured from only a few feet above the terrain. After the usual basic adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, I exported the image to Luminar AI to begin the process of altering reality. I used the Golden Hour slider to increase the sunset tones in the river’s reflection of the sky. The next step in replacement is easily done by the software and adding a few clouds, changing the time of day, or creating a dramatic sunrise or sunset can change the entire impact of the image.

One has to be careful, however, to pay attention to the light source in the original image. For example, if the shadows indicate the sun is to the right or left, in front of or behind the camera, then the sky must indicate as such. Notice in the image above, the right river bank is sunlit, small shadows of plants are toward the camera. The left river bank edge in shadow and the reflecting light in the water both indicate the scene is backlit. The sun, in the original photo, was off the top and just slightly to the left-center of the image. The replacement sky must show indications, if not the actual sun, that the camera is pointing toward the light source. It is immediately apparent to the casual viewer if the light source and shadows do not agree.

Once I was happy with the change to the sky, a few more tweaks to improve the sharpness and composition finished the image. As always, I recommend clicking on the photo to enlarge it for a better view.

John Steiner


  1. A very effective edit and you’re right to point out the need to consider sun position, light and shade etc. We drove that scenic highway when in WA a few years ago and found it beautiful 🙂

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