Photo Editing with Luminar 2018

When I’m taking photos with my DSLR, I always shoot in Camera Raw and use  manual setting. This means that I always need to do some editing of my photos, but I want to have that extra control and get the final version just the way I want.  I want to control the brightness, saturation, contrast, etc, rather than using the same default settings of the camera for every image.

Adobe Photoshop has been my go-to editor for more than a decade, and I still use it, but I’ve found myself relying more and more on Luminar by Skylum. (The company was previously called MacPhun, but now it is compatible with both Mac and Windows machines, and has reemerged as Skylum.)  I started using MacPhun products as Plug-ins with Photoshop, but with Luminar 2018 I find it is easier to just use it as a stand-alone program.

Here’s an example of how it works:

Below is a photo I took at Waimea Canyon in Hawaii a few years ago. It was bright and sunny, but also hazy, and the raw image is flat.


The first step I use with any RAW file is the “Develop” filter. Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 10.43.29 AM


It is very similar to processing with Adobe Camera RAW. Sliders can be used to adjust exposure, highlights, shadows, contrast, etc.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 10.44.27 AM

The second step is something that is unique to Luminar – “Accent AI Filter”. It uses artificial intelligence to analyze and make adjustments to an image.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 10.46.02 AM

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 10.46.56 AMThese two steps are often all that is needed enhance an image, and the before and after images above show the difference.

Luminance also has a number of presets  that can quickly and dramatically change an image. Below I used the “Warm Sunset” preset.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 10.51.17 AM

At 100% it is oversaturated and way over-the-top! The next step is to decrease the opacity of the filter by moving the slider to a lower amount that is more pleasing and natural.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 10.51.48 AM

It is an improvement at 39%, but it still doesn’t look natural to me, so I decide to manually adjust the Default settings for the “Warm Sunset” filter. Below are all of the various components that have been combined to create the “Warm Sunset” pre-set. I adjusted them through trial and error to achieve the look that I wanted.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 10.54.09 AM

The final image below has eliminated the hazy look, removed the color cast, emphasized the contrast and more accurately portrays the amazing colors of the canyon on a bright sunny day.


The entire process took me only about 5 minutes to complete.

Click here to find out more about  Luminar 2018