composing, photography, review

creator vs. taker (ad)

Isn’t this a quite funny headline? You know, I’m a photographer. As a photographer, I show you the world the way it is and how I see it. To bring my images to your vision, I need to develop them. For developing the raw data recorded by my camera, I need some software known as raw developer. It’s just like in the old days where the photographer took the exposed film out of his camera and put it in some chemicals to magically get colorful images out of a grey stripe of plastic.

In 1988, the first version of Photoshop was introduced. This was initially an image manipulation program and became later quite popular not only for advertisers but also for photographers. I personally don’t need these functions for my images. Beside working on deeps and highlights, vibrance, cropping, and sharpening I do nothing to my images. Thus, I only need a raw developer and nothing else.

One raw developer I work with is Luminar by Skylum. This product appeared first in 2016 for MacOS only. Now, it’s available for Windows also. When Syklum started integrating artificial intelligence for some reason, these features became more and more powerful and made life easier for people photographers as well as for landscape photographers.

The current version, Luminar 4, replaces all previous versions of Luminar, including Luminar Flex. So, saving edits as editable separate files isn’t possible anymore and I suspect, this won’t come back anymore. Even the option, to export an edit as a PSD file for Photoshop only saves it as a flattened file.

This past week, a new version of Luminar was released: Luminar 4.2

Although, this is a new minor version, the changes are remarkable! This version brings new tools to your hands. These tools are powered by artificial intelligence to enhance your images in a very natural way. I guess, most of the skills were taken over from Photolemur, a company Skylum took over after 2018. With Luminar 3 AI skills were introduced for the first time and enhanced with Luminar 4. Now, Luminar steps up quite further and brings some additional creative tools to your hand. To show you a bit about what’s possible, I attached one of my Images.

Here we are in Tromsø, standing at the edge of the harbor and looking over the fjord to the part of the city located on the other side of the fjord with the famous Arctic Cathedral. I included the clouds from an image taken about an hour earlier from the same place looking in the same direction while waiting for the blue hour. The other two objects (aurora and planet) are taken from the standard library supplied by Skylum with the installation package.

Despite, I don’t like these make-offs, it demonstrates what’s possible and how realistic it looks like. I have to admit, the software does a great job. Although, I focused here on the tools for landscape photographers,  I also encourage people photographers to have a look at Luminar 4.2, as it also includes some great AI-supported tools for them (AI Skin & Portrait enhancer and shine removal)

To test it on your own with your own images, there’s a test version available to download for free to check all features out. It’s available for Windows and for MacOS. A license is good for two computers.

When using the code “SOLANER” during checkout, you can save a few bucks.

Take care!

Computer, photography, postprocessing, review, software, technic

Luminar 4 is just around the corner

You might have noticed some images online on social media created with Luminar 4 beta. I was also able to have a short test on the beta version recently. I gave it a try, hoping the flexibility and image quality of Luminar 2018 would survive and bring it to a new level in terms of supporting more recent cameras, too.

When starting Luminar 4 and looking at the user interface, it’s very similar to the older versions. As a user of the older versions, you’ll feel being at home at once. Slowly, you’ll discover the improvements, as most of them are under the hood.

For those of you, not familiar with older Luminar versions: it’s a photo editing software in means of processing and enhancing an image just the way the lab did in the old film days. It’s not for doing compositions and montages. It’s for processing raw files and develop them as well as enhancing jpg files i.e. lighten the darks, correct the horizon, remove dust or noise, correct distortions or enhance contrast. All the tools are organized into 4 groups (essential, creative, portrait and pro), plus raw development (canvas) and levels. All edits are done without changing the original file

A very important improvement is the progress in the AI filters. AI is short for “artificial intelligence” and means, the software is analyzing the image and tries to improve it in a means of a very natural mood. I tried it with some of my own images and I was very impressed. Here, in this post, I included an image taken during my recent trip to the baltic sea. It was taken at a windy fall afternoon. The sky was mostly grey with some small blueish areas in between. Not, what you want to have in your images. The bracket fungus on this tree is located on the shadow side of the tree. So, we have a kind of backlit scene that helpt blowing out the sky in the image while having the correct exposure for the tree and the fungus.

out-of-camera JPG

You know, I’m a raw shooter and don’t use the out-of-camera jpg’s, because I know, the raws have much more details, which are lost when shooting in JPG only.

The next image is still the same raw but handed over to the AI of Luminar 4. I know, other raw developer software can do the same, but it’s not as easy as with Luminar 4.

sky enhanced by AI

No further processing, then simply clicking on the AI for analyzing and improving the sky parts. Done!

But, the AI can do much more. You can also use it for replacing the sky. Although I don’t need it in my workflow and don’t like such editing in general, I tried it for you. Luminar 4 comes with a set of different skies, but you can also use your own skies. So, you could take a photo of the sky in addition to your photo and combine them in Luminar 4 for getting the final image.

sky replaced by AI

There are many more options to try and to use for improving your images. In general, the improvements look very natural and much better than they look after using HDR software to process them.

I don’t want to conceal a disadvantage of Luminar 4: Just like Luminar 3, all your edits are saved in the Luminar catalog. Maybe, saving the edits as separate files will come back, as several testers brought this up as a complaint. Remember, it came back with releasing Luminar Flex as a result of the complaints on this same behavior when Luminar 3 was released. Luminar 3 and Luminar Flex are the same, but with the difference in the style of saving the edits: Luminar 3 saves them in the catalog while Luminar Flex saves them as separate files.

Advertisement because of set links:

Currently, Skylum offers Luminar 4 with a Launch-Discount either as a pre-order or you can get Luminar 3 at once and Luminar 4 as soon, as it is released. Remember, the release is just around the corner: Nov. 18th, 2019!!! So hurry, to save some money and get Luminar 4 as soon as possible. As in the past, Luminar 4 is for Windows as well as for macOS. You can use it either as stand-alone software or as a plug-in to Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Apple Photos. On the other hand, other plug-ins like Aurora HDR or Nik Filter are usable from inside Luminar 4.

Nevertheless, when you can live with this disadvantage, Luminar 4 is a fantastic software to bring up the details in your images without too much work. So, it can ease your workflow when improving your images! Not convinced yet? Skylum offers a trial period with a money-back guarantee for 30 days!

Computer, photography, postprocessing, review

Luminar 3 – What a disaster!

Recently, I got a review copy of Luminar 3. You know, you get it as a free upgrade, if you own a copy of Luminar 2018. When having paid for an older version, you can get it for a reduced price.

This version finally brings the long-awaited feature “Library”.

Unfortunately, this is simply a remake of an editing module, where all edits are saved in a library, instead of single files just like the previous versions. But, first things first.

When I started Luminar 3 right after installation, I was asked, where my (raw) images are. I save them in a structure on my hard disk until editing the job is finished. In the past, I explained that principle for you in a separate blog post. But, only jpg-files popped up in the light-table view of Luminar 3. After a while, I decided to restart Luminar, and surprisingly, my raw-files also appeared on the screen. But, they didn’t appear in chronological order. Instead, the images of all folders were mixed. Raws mixed with jpgs and all of them seemed to follow no specific order. What a chaos! I was unable to find my raws, instead I opened accidentally an already edited image. I was totally confused.

Later, I found out, I can browse the folder structure on the right to find a specific folder. But, it still offers all image files (raw and jpg). Until now, I can’t say, how to tell Luminar to ignore sub-folder.

When ready editing an image, you can export it to jpg. But, you can’t save the edited file. All of your edits are saved to a database. I have no idea, how to backup this database, to finish the edits at a different computer. I even don’t know, how to exclude the edits from the database, when I’m ready with the edits at a certain pile of images (finished a job). In the past, I simply moved the source folder to a NAS and the edited files to a different NAS, while the final jpgs go to my fileserver.

While Skylum destroyed Luminar, they didn’t bring the really needed part: a library for the finished jpgs where you can store the metadata: GPS, camera, lens, all of the exif data and all the necessary categories as well as the tags. These are the important information I need in a database together with thumbnail images in low quality and an external link to the fileserver, where the final jpg-file resists, to find certain images quickly.

Up to now, I can only say, it’s unusual! Stay with Luminar 2018 and don’t do the upgrade! It’s simply a copy of the mechanism already known from Adobe Lightroom (but, without the necessity to subscribe to a plan, that continuously costs you monthly fees to use it).

Here starts an ad:

So, when you’re still willing to give it a try, you can get it here. The trial is free. The final version will be available from Dec, 19th, 2018.

When using the code “SOLANER” during checkout, you can a few bucks.

 

art, landscape, long exposure, nature, photography, review

Monochrome Monday 5-28

Today, I have an another image taken on the Ilse of Skye in April for you. It’s a long exposure: 25s at f22 and ISO 50 by using my standard zoom.

When we arrived at the parking lot, about a kilometer from the shore, we were already able to see the spray in the air and when we arrived, we were able to see, how strong the surf was. I’ll show you some images of the waves, soon.

Nevertheless, I left my tripod in the back of our rental car, so my beanbag replaced the tripod.

*** <Ad> ***

You know, in the past nearly all of my monochrome images were developed by using Tonality Pro by Skylum (formerly known as MacPhun). Unfortunately, Tonality Pro is considered as a legacy or retired product in the meantime. But, the monochrome skills of Luminar were in my opinion not good enough compared to Tonality Pro. But, I guess, someone at Skylum heard my complaints and startet bringing the monochrome engine from Tonality Pro to Luminar 2018 and converted the presets, too.

This image, is the first monochrome image developed with Luminar, I’m really satisfied with.

There’s also some other news on Luminar: The most recent free update contains a new AI driven filter for enhancing the sky. As always, you can download a preview, in case you don’t have Luminar 2018 already. Everyone else can purchase a copy for a reduced price by using this code: SOLANER

*** </Ad> ***

Take care!

long exposure, nature, photography, postprocessing, review

Throwback Thursday: editing cranes with Luminar 2018 Jupiter!

Recently, I got a review version of the upcoming version “Luminar 2018″ V. 1.2.0 Jupiter. for a short time.

Upgrade was as easy as usual: simply drawing the app in my Applications folder. I had the feeling, the software start doesn’t need as long as before. The interface seemed familiar without any noticeable changes. All presets seemed to be still available. Also, the workflow is the same.

So, I took some of my images for my crane trip last fall and developed them from raw again.

(click on the image to enlarge it)
APS-C, 800mm (~1200mm), f8, ISO 400, 1/6400s
(click on the image to enlarge)
35mm, 155mm, ISO 800, f7.1, 1/500s
(click on the image to enlarge)
APS-C, 800mm (~1200mm), ISO 3200, f5.6, 1/125s

I was quite impressed by the results when comparing the outcome with the one from last fall using Luminar V. 1.0.0: more details, better results in the mid-tones and much better noise-reduction. The noise reduction is so good now, than I’m considering deleting the old app “Noiseless CK”.

For me, a good noise reduction is crucial. When doing wildlife photography, I have to use high ISO settings because I want very short shutter speeds for getting sharp images. You know the apertures triangle: ISO, shutter speed and aperture. As I usually have to use long focal lenses, which are not so fast as shorter focal lenses because of physical limitations. Additionally, the longer a lens, the smaller the field of depth is. This brings in another level of light shortage.

Some of the other new features are:

  • higher speed during import and processing
  • automatic distortion correction
  • improved Demosaicing and green balance
  • support of DCP profiles (Mac)
  • higher speed when importing raw images (Mac)
  • the functionality of the Windows version is adapted to the Mac version by adding support for batch processing, free transformation, rotation and mirroring

Luminar 2018 Jupiter comes as a free upgrade for all current users of Luminar 2018. Users having a previous version of Luminar are eligible for upgrading on a reduced rate. For those of you, not having Luminar already, might consider giving it a try. There’s a free evaluation version available for download for MacOS and for Windows.

When using this code “SOLANER” you can save some money and get your perks anyway 😃.

Take care!

photography, postprocessing, review

Luminar and Aurora by Macphun

You know, I mentioned Luminar and Aurora by Macphun several times here in my blog and I’m using them on a regular basis for my images, as well as the older product Tonality Pro.

Macphun will now officially be known as Skylum!

In order to celebrate this, they’ve prepared special exclusive bonuses and freebies which are included to every purchase of Luminar or Aurora HDR. Both software products are available for Mac and Windows.

Both products are currently availlable with a special discount and some bonuses. So, give it a try. Free trials are available for download on the Luminar 2018 trial page and the Aurora 2018 trial page.

Or check out the perks you can currently get:
Luminar 2018 FEBRUARY OFFER  
AURORA HDR 2018 FEBRUARY OFFER

Take care!