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Everything new in Photoshop 2021

Adobe not only announced and released a new version of Lightroom Classic during Adobe MAX. Photoshop received a similar treatment and in comparison to what we got in Lightroom Classic, this is an absolutely massive update.

Photoshop is of course much more versatile than Lightroom Classic and used by many different types of professionals. I’m specifically interested in whether there is anything in it that will help us, landscape photographers.

Machine learning everything

If I had to sum up this update in as few words as possible it would simply be machine learning everything. Adobe has been talking about their Sensei AI for quite some time now and we’re finally getting a proper taste of what this new and powerful technology can actually do.

The new Neural Filters

The most headline-grabbing addition is of course the all-new Neural Filters. Basically, if you’ve ever read anything about deep-fakes and neural networks changing the look of images, this feature is exactly that. Using the Neural Filters Adobe’s Sensei AI technology edits a photo for you. And it is equally impressive as it is creepy.

I’m a landscape photographer so faces don’t often feature in my images but I did have to give this feature a try. There are actually only two options available which aren’t in beta and they’re both rather boring. One is skin smoothing and the other is style transfer where you can adopt the style of a source image and apply it to your own images.

Smart Portrait

The more interesting options are found in the beta tab. The Smart Portrait option is what everyone is currently talking about. I’ve found this photo of myself looking sufficiently grumpy so let’s turn that thrown upside down using the smart portrait neural filter.

I’m not sure if what is has done is make me look happy but it does look rather convincing. I’m not too sure about the teeth but then again the AI didn’t have anything to go by and had to give me someone else’s set of gnashers. By the way, if you are planning on using these Neural Filters in your workflow regularly you might want to invest in a beefy GPU. My system was definitely struggling during the process.

Let’s try making me look even angrier than I am in the original photo.

I don’t quite understand what the AI was trying to do with my mouth there. One more and I promise I’ll be done playing around with the Smart Portrait options.

While the Neural Filters might not be quite there yet, after all, many of them are still beta features, you can see that they are the direction in which Adobe is steering Photoshop towards. Smart Portrait is just one of the many options available as a beta feature right now.

Depth-Aware Haze

There is also one Neural Filter which might come in handy for us landscape photographers and it is named Depth-Aware Haze. Using it you can create artificial haze in your photographs. I reckon it would work better if the subject wouldn’t be a rock but a person or an animal but it definitely looks better than the reverse dehaze function in Lightroom Classic.

I think that’s about it for Neural Filters. It’s obvious that there is a ton of potential there even if some of the features aren’t quite there yet. Having your photos edited using more and more machine learning is the direction in which Photoshop is going whether you like it or not. This is certainly more than just a fun project for Adobe.

Sky replacements in Photoshop 2021

And with that let’s move on to the next AI-powered feature which isn’t quite uncontroversial. I’m talking about sky replacements in Photoshop. I get it, replacing the sky in a photograph is something many landscape photographers do not wish to promote. Today we’re just taking a look at the new features added in Photoshop 2021. And the sky replacement falls under that category.

The automatic sky replacement in Photoshop 2021 doesn’t just change a boring or dull sky for something more interesting. It will change the tone of your whole photograph. For example, if you go with a warmer sky it will bring up the temperature of your whole image. You’re not just limited to the skies Adobe gives you as presets, you can also add your own skies to the library. You’ll also have granular control over the sky replacement allowing you to make it look just perfect.

The sky replacement isn’t just pasted over your original image. It will be added as a group of layers you can individually edit using the tools in Photoshop.

Everything else

Other than that the magical Object Selection tool has been further refined making it easier to select hair and differentiate fine details against similar backgrounds. I’ve talked about how I use Object Selection to create thumbnails for my YouTube videos so if you’re intersted in that feature make sure you watch the video.

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