A powerful photo editor like Luminar allows you to quickly change a photo from a flat looking raw file to a beautiful photo. Luminar has some filters and sliders, that you won’t even find in other popular photo editing software programs like Lightroom.
In a way, Luminar takes over the heritage from Nik Collection Plugins, because of the flexibility in the filters. Nik Collection, which I still love using, is no longer being actively developed by Google, so these plugins not advance with new stuff and release. Nik Collection is now free and will still work, but there might come a day when they stop working on your Mac or Windows PC. With the fresh approach Macphun has shown and the potential for developing Luminar, I see it as the software to turn to for an easy and flexible post-processing workflow. And just like in the Nik plugins, you can save any combination of filters into Lumiar presets, so you can easily apply the same recipe to multiple images.
Let us take a look at just how powerful the individual filters in Luminar are.
The structure filter works magic in bringing out details and clarity in your images. It is exceptional to make clouds look more dramatic. It has three different sliders (amount, softness, and boost) to control precisely how you want details to appear.
The Amount slider increases the amount of visible details in the image.
Softness controls how soft the details and texture appear in your image. If you move this slider to the right, the details will become more smooth. This can help you create an image which has both a lot of details but still looks realistic. If you move the slider to the left you decrease the smoothness makes the details sharper and clear cut. However, this will also make the image seem more unrealistic.
The Boost slider will emphasize details in your image. However, push it too far and the image will begin to look more unrealistic. If you keep it towards the left, you will still bring out the details but get a more natural and calm look.
Nothing beats being at a beautiful location when the sun sets or rises during the golden hour. But you might still want to boost that golden hour look in your image. To do this, you just need to add the Golden Hour filter and adjust the two sliders, Amount, and Saturation.
The Golden Hour adds a golden and warm glow to your photos. The Amount slider controls how much warmth that is added to the photo. To add more color vibrancy and spice up your image, even more, pull the Saturation slider a bit to the right. You can use this filter to both to imitate the golden hour look or boost the photos, where you were lucky enough to be at the right time and at the right place, but you still think your images is short of the look that you were hoping to bring home.
If you want to recreate that blue sky and color depth you know from using a polarizing filter mounted on your camera, this is the filter to use in Luminar. Even though it will not cut away with reflections, it will give you deep blue skies and boost the color and depth in your landscape images. There is only one slider, which makes it incredibly easy to control and apply.
If your images have a strange color cast, perhaps coming from using a neutral density filter, use this filter to remove it. There are two different auto setting that you can apply and one manual.
I find that that the auto methods does a really good job. You still have to set the Amount slider yourself, but Luminar determines which color it needs to add in your image to remove the color cast. However, if you switch to the manual you will also gain control of the Color slider, which you can slide back and forth to find the most natural look.
Advanced Contrast lets you adjust and boost the contrast for the highlights, midtones, and shadows individually. This gives you an incredible control over the overall contrast in your photo. When you pull the highlights, midtones, or shadows sliders to the right, you increase the contrast. Use the Balance highlights, Balance Midtones, and Balance Shadows to change what Luminar treats as Shadows, Midtones or Highlights.
Most landscape photos have a horizon within the composition. Including the horizon also often mean that you have two parts of your image, which have very different lighting. The upper part will usually be brighter than the bottom part and therefore need to be darkened a bit. The lower part of the image will often need a brightness boost. This is where thee Top and Bottom Lighting filter comes in handy. It works best with images that have an even and simple horizon if you want to avoid using layers or masks. Think of it as a flexible GND-filter that you just forgot to apply in the field.
The Top slider allows you to control how bright or dark the top part of your image should be. Move it to the left to darken the image. Move it to the right to brighten.
The Bottom slider does the same thing, just for the bottom part of your image. Click on Set Orientation, and click on the horizon in your photo. This will place a flexible gradient or transition zone. By dragging the lower and upper lines of the gradient zone allows you to get a smoother blending between the top and bottom lighting.
Normally, most people want their landscape photos to be sharp. However, with a little soft and dreamy look can also benefit some landscape photos, if you don’t overdo it. The Image Radiance filter will help you achieve this, by adding a slight glow to the brighter parts of your image without overdoing it.
The Amount slider controls the overall strength of the filter. Keep it below +35 if you want the effect to look realistic.
The Smoothness slider controls the softness and glow of the filter adds, while the Brightness slider controls how bright the effect will be.
If you adjust the Smart Colorize slider, you will change how saturated the effect will look, without oversaturating your image.
For a warmer effect, modify the Warmth slider.
The Details Enhancer filter helps you bring out details and give you great sharpness in both landscape, wildlife, and other nature photos. You selectively control the sharpness of small, medium, and large details.
With the Small Details slider, you control the clarity of small details. If you leave it at zero, no effect is applied. However, if you move it to the right, you will begin to see more details in textures and other small details. If you, on the other hand, pull the slider to the left, your image will loose the small details.
Use the Medium Details slider to control the details of medium sized objects. The same principle applies with no effect being applied at zero and pulling the slider to the right increases the sharpness of details while moving it to the left decreases the amount of details.
The Large Details slider control the sharpness of the outline of bigger objects in your image.
If you want to make sure that you don’t get an overprocessed look to the brighter area of your image increase the Highlights Protection slider.
If you pull the Masking slider to the right the level of details is reduced. Pull it to the left to amplify the level of details in your image.
To get the most out of Luminar, you should find a workflow that suits your level of post-processing skills and the amount of time, you want to spend on processing an image. Post-processing should be a fun and creative process. Luminar can adapt to the level of skills you have, from beginner to advanced, by showing you more or fewer options for processing your photos. Combining this with the power and flexibility of presets in Luminar, I am sure that you will find that Luminar is a powerful photo editor that can help you create amazing looking landscape and nature photos.