The software that could save you time or money is here in a big way. I’ve compared the time spent retouching an image like I usually do and retouching it using Luminar’s AI, and the latter takes the cake.
I usually work a little differently with regards to my post-processing and retouching of portraiture or fashion and beauty photography than I think others do. We all have our own style. This is what makes us dynamic, and we are able to adjust our workflow depending on the job at hand. The developers of Luminar understands this well. For instance, I usually open the image in the raw module and go directly to Photoshop without making any changes to the image unless it’s really something where the raw file can bring back some information lost in the shadows or highlights. I prefer doing the retouching first, and getting the image ready for color and post processing as the second step. I know I don’t have the raw dynamic range anymore, but it gives me the workflow I think let’s me have what I want out of the photos I take.
I then duplicate the layer and take it to Luminar immediately, which I installed as a Photoshop plugin. The sooner I can get rid of the irregularities or things that are going to bother me throughout the editing process, the better the end result will be, and the more enjoyable the process will be. Let’s face it, removing spots or imperfections is not the most creative part of retouching an image.
I can then do all the corrections, and have something to work with within minutes, which in the past took much longer to do. In the past, when we consider the whole post-processing process as a whole, the corrections took the longest. Luminar has changed this. I now have two layers, the one with only the color, and the other with the AI magic Luminar offers as a solution.
I then divide the image up into separate parts with guides, small enough so I can zoom in 100% and see the whole frame I’ve created with horizontal and vertical guides. By doing this I can really see what Luminar has done and see with a glance what area is finished and what still needs to be done. I can also compare it to the original layer by toggling the layer on or off. I’ll go over every frame I’ve made with the guides, and make sure the retouching is complete before I start with the color, sharpening, and finishing off the image.
What Luminar does is remove hours of retouching, and lets me focus on accentuating certain areas of the image instead of fixing, which is quite a different, freeing mindset. Instead of thinking of the photo as something that needs correcting, which Luminar does now, and lets me consider all the opportunities and possibilities within the image.
And if you’re thinking it’s going to change your style or the way your photos look in the end, the answer is “It depends”. How much are you going to push the sliders in the plugin? I like my own eye when it comes to color, so I don’t use the Luminar color presets, but I do use the retouching capabilities now, and I will do so for the foreseeable future.
Who is Luminar for?
I do a lot of retouching for photographers who work in the beauty and fashion industries. I will certainly use this to give me more flexibility and time to work on various other parts of the workflow. I imagine a lot of wedding and portraiture photographers will also find value here. And if you're an all-rounder who does landscapes and portraits or lifestyle photography, the combination of being able to edit and correct imperfections, combined with the sky replacement that's also included in the software, it's hard to say no.
What I Liked
- It saves a lot of time. Period.
- The ease of use as a Photoshop plugin has become part of my workflow now, and it's hard to imagine Photoshop without it. I like the fact that it's inside Photoshop, the application I use daily, and there's no bouncing around between or various versions saved in different places on the hard drive.
- It only gives you a few sliders, which you would think isn’t going to be enough to do what you want to do, but boy does it have a lot of power when it comes to analyzing the image with its AI.
- The sliders are intuitive and do more than what you expected from them, and it's quite noticeable when you've overdone something and can quickly pull it back if need be.
What I Didn’t Like
- It has missed a few spots, or replaced the skin I was aiming to correct with a smudge. I’m sure that with time this will be corrected.
- It’s not really an issue, but sometimes the app misses some spots or over-edits a part of the skin that looks unnatural. I then need to go in to correct it. But, with Luminar it’s a much quicker and smoother process.
I don’t think Luminar is going to replace retouching or the people who do retouching. I do think it’s going to make getting good photos ready to publish in a better timeframe. This will allow us to focus on the creative aspects of the image, and not the corrections. I would say that making corrections to an image is of the least favorite things in a photography career, so I’m glad they’ve taken on this task to create this tool for us to use.
You can download the software and find out more here.