Ashok Kandimalla has been in the photographic field for over three decades and has extensive experience in both film and digital photography. Being an electronics engineer by profession and a photographer, he possesses a unique and deep insight into the technical aspects of digital photography and equipment. He has published more than a 100 articles on photography and some of his writings have also been published in the well-known international magazine Popular Photography.
An avid collector of photographic books and vintage cameras, Ashok has a keen interest in the history of photography and a passion for sharing his knowledge on photography through teaching and writing. He is the only Indian photographer to be featured on the Nikon Centenary website. He is presently working as a Management and Engineering consutant. He can be reached at kashokk@ gmail.com.
Regardless of the post-processing software, many tools, for example those that adjust exposure, contrast, white balance, etc. are common. Luminar has all this ‘run of the mill’ stuff, but where it shines is that it has tools that are based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). These are unique and bring new possibilities and ease of operation that is not available elsewhere.
While we will list out all the tools available, our emphasis will be on the AI-based ones due to the shortage of space. All Luminar tools are accessible once you enter the Edit view (Picture 1). The main menu of tools (or tool groups to be more precise) is organised vertically as icons (Picture 1, #1). Clicking on any one of them will show the tools (Picture 1, #2) in that group. Further clicking on an individual tool will show the sliders of that tool (Picture 2).
From top to bottom, here is the list of tools with a brief description:
This group hosts several tools. Chief amongst them are Crop and Rotate, Erase and Clone and Stamp tools, which are available in most post-processing softwares. Also included in the Canvas Tools group, is the Lens and Geometry tool which can be used to correct lens distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting. Additionally, separate sliders are available for both vertical and horizontal perspective corrections and are useful for architectural photography. We felt that the lens corrections were being done generically, as Luminar does not seem to have a lens profile database for automatic corrections.
Below the Canvas Tool group are the most important editing tool groups, namely, Essentials, Creative, Portrait and Professional. Each of these has several tools. Let us look at these in greater detail.
This is perhaps the most conventional group and has no less than nine tools. The first tool called Light handles white balance and exposure-related corrections. Separate sliders are available for adjusting shadows, highlights, blacks and whites. There is also a tone curve for finer adjustments. Other tools in this group are – Colour, B&W Conversion, Details Enhancer (for sharpening), Denoise (for noise removal – both luminance and chroma) and Vignette. All these work as their names imply. There are three powerful tools called AI Enhance, AI Structure and Landscape Enhancer. The former two are based on AI technology. Let us see these unique tools in greater detail, since many of us photograph landscapes.
• AI Enhance: We found this tool to be extremely useful and smart. It has just two sliders – AI Accent and AI Sky Enhancer. As per Luminar, the former slider all by itself, internally adjusts no less than 12 different parameters. These include commonly used ones such as shadows, highlights, contrast, tone, saturation, exposure, details, etc. The latter, viz. AI Sky Enhancer, is a smart tool that first analyses an image and then accurately finds out the area that makes up the sky, foreground, water (if present), etc., to create accurate masks internally. It then analyses the sky to find out its texture, tone and colours. As you move the slider to the right, it makes several adjustments appropriately and selectively. These include brightness, contrast and saturation. It also recovers details and enhances the textures of clouds.
We found the AI Enhance tool to be extremely useful and, in many cases, we could completely process a landscape image with just this tool alone (Picture 3).
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