The approach Luminar takes is to make editing your photos easier and quicker. Filters definitely help with this because they are mostly labeled by what they do and that can give you ideas for what might suit your photo or mood best. Sometimes though you just have to experiment. Because I shoot a lot of brooks and rivers, I found a great use for Microstructure that might speed up my processing time.
I worked these two pictures before I knew I was going to write about it, so they aren’t both produced with Luminar, but I think you can see the effect of the Microstructure filter in the water – there is more contrast and detail in the flow itself and I think it makes it a bit more dramatic overall. It showcases the power and, well the structure, of the water itself. I like it a lot and have a feeling I’ll be using it frequently. Oh and with that shot, I applied the filter to the whole image, not just the water.
For a more fair and exacting look at the Microstructure filter, here is an image showing the difference directly. All the editing inputs are the same except turning that one effect on and off. To do this I created a preset when I was done with the first shot and then applied it to a new RAW file and deleted the Microstructure filter. For the one that has it I used the adjustment brush to apply the filter only to the water because I didn’t like what it was doing to the snow. I wanted more of a contrast between the smooth snow and the roiling water. But it doesn’t look like I got it, huh? The foreground snow and the trees have lost their original softness. (Scroll to the next image to compare.)
My mistake was thinking the brush tool works exactly like it does in Lightroom. It doesn’t. You have to use it in an adjustment layer for your chosen edit to be confined to where you paint the brush. Otherwise it applies it to the whole photo. Once you’ve created one it’s easy to adjust the brush size, opacity, feathering and other elements to get the precise amount you want.
You Photoshop users are yelling “DUH!!” right now, but I’ve never used Photoshop much. Lightroom has been my only processing software since 2010. Layers are going to take me some time to understand and even longer to master, but I will soldier on! Here is the final image with an adjustment layer to contain the Microstructure effect within the water and not everywhere else.
I like it because it doesn’t look too crispy, an effect you can also get in Lightroom by applying too much clarity to a whole photo. It looks more like something out of a computer than out of the field. Fakey McFake. Some may like it, but not this little gray duck.
Now I notice that there is a Structure filter in Luminar as well so I’ll have to figure out what makes that different and what types of images it really helps.
That’s all for now though!