Lately, I’ve been playing around with Luminar by Macphun. I’ve found that this program reduces the number of my editing headaches. I’ll share a bit of my experience with it, and you can see if it can help solve some of your headaches or challenges as well.
Processing is a chore
I’m the impatient type; I hate sitting down. I spend my life trying to find ways to keep moving and being active. I love to create and build and explore. Sitting down to edit photographs is a true chore. You all know a photographer like me. They spend their time carefully composing, adjusting lighting, and building the image in the camera, so they don’t have to spend hours editing their images.
Let’s be clear I’m not criticizing those who build images using several layers and masks. Some of my favorite photographers are editing masters, and I truly appreciate the skills they use to create their work. It’s incredible. But it’s not me. Editing is a headache for me. I hate it, but I’m too possessive of my work to ever considering outsourcing my post-processing. So anything that reduces the time I spend behind a computer is a bonus for me.
Luminar is very quick to use. The program works as a stand-alone application, or you can install and use it as a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop. I chose to edit using Luminar as the standalone version. So here are three of my editing headaches that Luminar helped reduce.
1) Finding a starting point for processing the image
Often we photographers shoot with a finished look in mind. We know we are going to convert an image to black and white or we want to create a luminous light filled look, and we shoot accordingly. However other times we struggle to picture the finished image. We can’t figure out a starting point for processing the photo. That’s where presets come in.
You can use presets as an idea bank that helps to get the creative juices flowing. The only issue is viewing these presets and finding the right starting point. In Luminar the presets are large, and you can easily scroll through each look using the slider bar. The display of presets is easily accessible at the bottom of the screen. You can click through several different looks and return to the one you like.
The other bonus to this method is the slider located on each preset. If the look is just a little too strong for your liking, it’s easy to dial it back. You can adjust how strongly each preset affects the image. For someone like me who tends only to make global adjustments to images, these types of features are really useful. I am able to select a preset then gently adjust the image to my liking.
Luminar helps with ideas and possibilities
The image you see below was pretty much a quick snap on my way out the door. I was in Cuba and waiting for my aunt to get ready before we caught the bus. I had no vision for the shot other than a quick sighting of something interesting. So when I returned home, I struggled with what to do.
I would never have thought of doing a black and white conversion for this image if it were not for one of the presets in Luminar. A headache solved, the program gave me an idea. I used the preset as a base and tweaked the image slightly. In total it took me about five minutes to edit the image.
2) Soooo many buttons to manage and remember
For those of us who want to edit images quickly, it’s difficult to remember all those keyboard shortcuts, and it’s time-consuming to keep checking the cheat sheet by our desks.
In Luminar, the interface is very simple, and it’s quick to use with just a few simple buttons. It’s easy to crop, compare, and apply a brush or a gradient to your work. It’s easy to make both global and more isolated adjustments quickly and effectively.
3) Layers can get complicated and confusing
Managing layers and masks can be confusing in Photoshop and for some of it’s a real headache. In Luminar, the layers are easy to access and utilize.
Pushing the plus (+) button adds a layer quickly in Luminar. The layers can be used to overlay a second image, like a texture or to apply filters, brushes, etc. It’s easy to apply a preset to an image, globally. Then if you want to apply a preset to just a few areas of an image you can also create another layer and brush the preset onto specific areas of the image.
To illustrate this point, I’ve quickly applied a black and white preset to an image using the brush tool. You can see how quick and easy it is to make very specific adjustments to an image by painting in the preset as a layer mask, similar to tools like Adobe Photoshop. However, Luminar can take things even one step further. Filters themselves can also be applied in the same manner. To do this, simply click on the brush tool, then click on the title bar of a filter (not a layer). When you begin painting in the mask, you’ll see a small mask preview thumbnail appears in the title bar. After creating the mask, adjust the filter sliders as desired to apply the effect to the mask. Once you get the hang of filter masks, you’ll find it’s an extremely efficient way to make selective edits to your photos.
Filters themselves can also be applied in the same manner. To do this, simply click on the brush tool, then click on the title bar of a filter (not a layer). When you begin painting in the mask, you’ll see a small mask preview thumbnail appears in the title bar. After creating the mask, adjust the filter sliders as desired to apply the effect to the mask. Once you get the hang of filter masks, you’ll find it’s an extremely efficient way to make selective edits to your photos.
For some of us, editing is a chore. It depends on your personality and your style. Post-processing is an essential part of the photographic process, but it doesn’t have to ruin your love of photography.
Many of the features in Luminar help to alleviate those editing headaches from which many of us suffer. The program simplifies complicated processes and allows users to create beautiful images in a fairly short amount of time.