Luminar is a new piece of photo editing software, which has been designed to be used by photographers of different skill levels – whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced, or even professional user.
It can be used as a standalone application, or it can also be used as a plugin for a variety of other photo editing applications, such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture and so on.
If you are using other Macphun software, the interface of Luminar will be pretty familiar to you. If not, it won’t take long to learn how to use it. It is very straight-forward, elegant and well-organised.
With the top grey bar you can open or share a photo, zoom in or out, visualise the image at 100%, see a quick preview of the original image or compare it to the post-processed version. You can undo or redo the settings applied or display the history tab.
On the right, you will find tools such as masks (paint, gradient and radial), transform, clone & stamp, erase, denoise and crop tools.
Features of Luminar
You can change the workspace to include only the filters and controls you want. There are also preset controls for such things as Landscape, and Portrait editors. But don’t like those? simply design your own and save your workspace as you like it.
There are 35 different different filters in Luminar from simple things like Tone, Saturation and Curves to more advance filters such as Top & Bottom Lighting, Orton Effects, Polarizers and even a simple way to add Texture layers. Every one of these filters is fully editable
Don’t like messing with all those sliders? Luminar has 6 Groups of presets with 60 Presets currently. You’ll be able to make your own custom presets and also presets should be available from some of the artist that use Luminar so you can have their style available to you
Luminar is able to open RAW files from dozens of cameras and work on them non-destructively and re-editable (Note: you must save the file as a proprietary .Lmnr file to have this function)
Even if you have Lightroom, you don’t have layers. Luminar allows you to have multiple layers and all are very flexible in masking and blend modes. This gives you a ton of power to work on different areas of your photo independently.
Some of the Best Tips
Raw files contain more data, and data is good, especially if you decide you want to make major changes to your photo. A raw file is just better to have around, period. Sure you need more storage, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and future flexibility. Plus, you never know where your mindset will be in the future, so having a raw file is also great insurance.
Edit raw or TIFF only
With raw or TIFF, the quality is much better and it shows in the image. No pixelation, no artifacts, and no issues.
Try out some presets, with intent
You can get some presets off the Macphun website (on their site, scroll to the bottom and look at the footer menu under “Extras”, click on “Luminar Presets”) or elsewhere, or use the ones that come built into Luminar. I think using Presets is a quick and cost-effective (or free!) way to learn more about using many of the filters and helping you determine what you want your photos to look like.
Try out filters that you don’t understand
This is a huge thing to do, because it involves setting fear and confusion aside and just going for it. But it’s quite fun and you will certainly learn something along the way. There are a LOT of filters built into Luminar, and you have to experiment a bit to really get your arms around some of them.
Save some $ on Luminar!