Photography: Luminar

AFTER
AFTER

It’s Not Always Possible To Take Stunning Images When On Your Travels, But This Neat Software Will Help You Make The Most Of Your Less-Than-Glowing Shots. Simon Thomas Tells Us More…

Shoot now, Perfect Later

Travel photography is about grabbing opportunities for outstanding images as and when they come along. There’s rarely a scenario when you can get the lay of the land in advance, compose a shot in your mind, work out the angles, the light, and then return to the location at the perfect time of day.

Many of our own shots end up less than perfect simply because in our rush to freeze a moment in the camera, we hadn’t dialled in the perfect settings, or the camera simply wasn’t able to capture the dramatic light we saw with our eyes.

Should I Post Process?

The honest answer is… It’s up to you! If you can create images that you’re thrilled with every time, by dialling the exact right combination of exposure compensation, contrast, white balance and aperture, then you most likely won’t need to edit your images later. But, for the rest of us mere mortals, programs like Adobe Photoshop do a great job of allowing us to artistically alter an image or correct in-camera mistakes. However, Photoshop is complex, at times overwhelming, and can really suck the time out of your day. Besides, you want to ride your bike, not sit in front of a computer, right? Here’s today’s master class, do your self a favour and check out what Luminar can do for your photos.

Why Luminar?

It’s intuitive, simple to learn, powerful and, best of all, it’s inexpensive. Most of my editing work today, for both corporate clients and magazines, is done using Luminar. It takes me five minutes to get the same results which used to take me half an hour with Photoshop. The program ships with an impressive range of pre-set filters and is child’s play to learn.

Getting Started

Load any image into Luminar and click one of the pre-set filter options and you’ll see improvements, and this program also ships with a new filter called AI. It works using artificial intelligence and some cool algorithms to determine what type of photo you’re working on and what needs correcting and enhancing.

Moving this one slider will normally be all it takes for you to finish the edit and improve your image. If you want more control then simply choose from the filters in the list on the left of the screen. You can then use the slider to control precisely how much of that filter you want to apply. You can even combine and stack filters to achieve a particular look or feel. The results are bloody impressive.

BEFORE
BEFORE

Before & After

Have a look at the before and after images to the right and let me tell you what I did to this shot. Lisa took the shot of me as we rode south through Mongolia. We were exhausted, low on water and it wasn’t practical for me to ride up and down that track half a dozen times whilst Lisa dialled in the perfect combination of camera settings. The edit on this photo to transform it from before to after took me three minutes!

Steps

  1. Polarizing filter: I applied the polarizing filter to reduce the glare and create some contrast in the sky.
  2. Top and bottom lighting: I used this filter to darken the lower portion of the image to make sure that your eyes are drawn into the centre of the photo.
  3. Split colour warmth: I used this filter to slightly enhance the warm tones, whilst cooling the blues of the image.
  4. Whites/Blacks: This is a great filter that allows me to control the highlights and tone of an image.
  5. Vignette: I used this filter to slightly darken the upper and lower corners of the image to help push your eyes to the centre of the photo.
  6. Brightness and contrast: This was the last filter I used to make the image pop. Go easy with this one and use this filter gently, remember, less is more!

Here’s the info for the image:

Camera body: Nikon D300
Lens: 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
Focal Length: 200mm
Focus Mode: Single-point
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/6400 second
Exposure Mode: Auto
Exposure Comp: -1
Metering: Matrix
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 200
White Balance: Auto
Speed light/Flash: Did not fire
Active D-Lighting: On. Level: Off
Picture Control: [NL] NEUTRAL
Base: [NL] NEUTRAL
Sharpening: 2
Contrast: -1
Brightness: -1
Saturation: 0
Hue: 0

Cost

Unlike most image editing software programs, which now insist you pay a monthly license fee, like Photoshop which is now £180 per year (£15 a month), Luminar is yours for a one-off payment of £52. If you’re like me, and you want to try before you buy, then you can download a fully functional 14-day trial by heading here: www.macphun.us/abr. Use this link, and as an ABR reader, if you decide that you want to buy the program you’ll get 10% off the price, so you’ll pay £46 (use code ABR10 at checkout). If you’d like to catch a recent online master class where I run through my workflow with Luminar and the filters I use, watch here: www.bit.ly/LuminarDemo. You can pick up the class part of the webinar at minute 24. So, grab some of your images, give Luminar a whirl, and have a crack at breathing some life back into your older photos. I know you’ll be impressed; hey you might even have some fun whilst you’re at it.