Today I thought I’d write a little bit about workflow and finding your way in Luminar. The process is a little different than it is with Lightroom, but as you will see, there’s a lot of choice and you need to know where to go and what to use to get the results you want.
A lot of what I know is just from fooling around and trying things. Since I’m using it as a plug in to Lightroom, my original file stays intact and Luminar creates an edited copy (a TIFF) that is then returned to my catalog. I can even edit the copy in LR if needed. So far it’s been working well and I have a collection in LR for all the shots I want to experiment with in Luminar. I’ve also used Luminar as a keyword so I can find all the images I made with the new software. This is a recent photo from some of that experimentation –
So how did I get to that?
I started by doing a little lens correction, noise reduction and sharpening in Lightroom. Until MacPhun lets us use lens correction tools independent of presets, I will continue to do this in LR. It is really frustrating to correct a lens, apply a preset and have that wiped out with no ability to reset the corrections. Very annoying!!!
Initial fixes done, I then imported the image to Luminar and chose the Mild Image Enhancer preset. I think it’s good as a starting point for most of my work. It isn’t too extreme and fits my style most of all the presets. So unless I’m going for a particular effect or feeling that isn’t close to the real scene, I find myself starting here. And that’s really all the presets are; a starting point. They make adjustments automatically to fit the effect and in one instance I didn’t have to do anything else to the shot. This one though, I wanted to tweak just a little so I’ll take you through it. Here’s the image as imported and Luminar calls this the Original (although in the current build it uses your file name) –
As you can see on the right, some adjustments were made by applying the preset and I continued to play with them as I added other filters.
Layer 0 got a little brush of the highlights and shadows tool. I kind of wish it used exposure like Lightroom does, but I’m still finding my way. I lightened the tree trunk a bit by bringing up shadows and also lightened the highlights in the water in the nearest part of the photo. I think it adds balance to the overall scene.
Layer 1 was for a touch of Golden Hour. I really like this filter overall, but a little goes a long way. I pulled the saturation down a bit so it wouldn’t be too much. It brightens and enhances the warmth of the already warm tones in your picture. It seems to limit the effect to that end of the color spectrum when it’s a major part of the image.
In Layer 2 I played with the Color Contrast tool in a lot of ways. First in a Normal layer, then in Color and Luminance layers since the effect works differently in the photo depending on what you have selected. After trying out different things, I went back to Normal because the others just seemed to put the image out of balance in a way that I felt looked unnatural and odd. It was subtle, but I didn’t like it. Whenever I find myself wondering about what I’ve done with Luminar – is it too much or over the top – I pull back the effect a bit and reevaluate. Sometimes I walk away and do something else before looking at it again and deciding. As I’ve said before, it’s very easy to apply too much change and make things very overcooked in my opinion. Layer 2 was the last of the edits before I called it quits.
As I made changes to those filters in the Layers, I sometimes went back to the original image where the Develop module was located and adjusted contrast, clarity and exposure. Then looked at how the filters looked with that applied. It’s a little different to working with Lightroom because all those edits show up in one image in one place, where in Luminar you need to add the layers together (at the top of the stack) for the final look.
As you can see, each Layer adds a little change to the whole and as you go you can see what each does by the before and after panel or by turning on and off the individual filter or layer. If you have multiple filters per layer you can see the total effect by clicking the eye button on and off for the layer itself, or by individual filters.
So here it is again, the final shot –
It’s dramatic, maybe a little more than I usually go for, but I like it. As I recall, it was a day just after rain where the leaves were saturated and the sky overcast. To human eyes, very bright and constrasty and I think the work I did mimicked that quite well.
This is only one way of working with Luminar. In future posts I’ll talk about others I’ve tried and how they compare to this way and with Lightroom.