About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

Enhancing Images with Luminar

Enhancing Images with Luminar

I’ve talked about MacPhun’s Luminar here before. Specifically I discussed it in the context of the software being a new RAW converter, and I talked about the possibilities it offers. However, there’s another way to use the application, which also works really well, and that’s as a plug-in. You can use it as a plug-in for either Photoshop or Lightroom, and it offers a lot of functionality. Recently I was using it on an actual project, and so I thought that I’d discuss what I did and how I used the software.

A while ago I was doing some photography in a forest park here in Ireland, and while I was there I took some photos of wild shamrocks. Shamrocks always make for good stock photography especially coming up to St. Patricks Day. The images I shot were ok, but they weren’t very dramatic, and I wanted to do some creative editing with them.

One of the raw un-edited images in Lightroom before any editing

To start the process, I made my selections in Lightroom, and did some initial editing. I made sure that the exposure and overall brightness levels were right and set things like sharpening, noise reduction and so on in Lightroom. Once I had the base levels for each, for more advanced editing I sent the images to Photoshop. The reason that I wanted to use Photoshop was that there were some blemishes on the leaves that I wanted to remove, and the easiest way to do that was to use the smart healing brush in Photoshop.

Once in Photoshop, the first thing I did was use the smart healing brush to remove anything that was distracting. This was mostly mould spots, or some other gunk. I didn’t clean up everything as I wanted it to still look natural. Once I did that, I made a new layer, so that I’d have this base work as a starting point if I needed to start over. From there I sent the image to Luminar by using the plug in from the filter menu. I did most of the rest of the work in Luminar.

Luminar has it’s own layer system, with masking options, and it’s pretty powerful. The look I was going for was to create some deep rich greens and a focussed area of light. To do this I started with a base layer. For this I tweaked a lot of the standard settings and added some additional filters to the stack in Luminar. I actually had a preset that I was using before and I used this as my base level.

Once I was happy with this, I wanted to darken and soften the edges, so that the focus of the image would be in the right area. To do this I created a new adjustment layer in Luminar, and applied some more filters. I used the soft focus filter and also an exposure adjustment to darken it down. I then used the masking tools to paint out the centre part, so that the mask was only applied to the edges where I wanted it to be.

Once I was happy with the image in Luminar, I clicked the apply button to send it back to Photoshop. There I did some final tweaking before sending it back to Lightroom. I repeated this process more or less on the rest of the images. It took a while but I was happy with the results, and I have used the final images on my stock site, and they’re now available in plenty of time for this year’s St. Patricks day.

Some examples of the finished results

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