Photoshop 2021 has introduced some AI features that are a mix of exciting and disturbing. Want to make your crazy uncle look younger and less angry? Just use the “facial age” and “anger” settings under the “neural” filter.

The new version of Photoshop also introduces a “sky replacement” feature under the edit menu. It offers a range of adjustments for brightness, temperature, color, etc. You can use preinstalled skies or provide your own. You can also scale them and flip them, and you can adjust the edge masking. It’s pretty extraordinary, yet quite easy to use.

Briones reservoir from Oursan trail -- original images
The original image

As a first test, I used this image of Briones reservoir seen from the Oursan trail in Contra Costa County. Not a very interesting image, with a pale flat sky. To choose a replacement sky I first checked the quality and source of the light. In this case the sun was relatively low in the sky — but not so low that a sunset sky would look natural — and behind and to the right of the camera. Photoshop provided a sky that seemed appropriate for this lighting. I adjusted the quality of the sky to by compatible with the water. (I also brought out some detail in the foreground using the camera raw filters.)

Revised image of Briones Reservoir viewed from Oursan Trail
The revised image, with a Photoshop sky applied.

The result is an image that looks pretty convincing to my eye, proving again that images today more than ever simply cannot be trusted to represent in a direct way the real world.

The original and the revised images side by side
Side-by-side comparison of the original and the revised images.