Luminar AI Will Change Photo Editing for the Better
Augmented Sky Cover.jpg

Luminar AI is the photo editing software for everyone – accessible, affordable and effective for turning professionals into amateurs.

After months of testing its latest AI-assisted software, Skylum finally released Luminar AI, a feature-rich sequel to Luminar 4 available for macOS and Windows. The latest photo editing software brings the best features of Luminar 4 and offers more advanced features for portrait and landscape photography. At $ 79 – that's a one-time fee – for a single license, Luminar AI does a lot more than I expected. And while it's easy to learn and use, there are still advanced features available for those with the know-how.

Adobe enthusiasts don't have to interrupt their editing workflow, as Luminar AI can also be used as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom. For filmmakers and YouTubers, Luminar is a great tool for creating thumbnails, which has become an art in itself. While Luminar AI doesn't offer any text functions for creating titles, using it as a plug-in for Lightroom or Photoshop is perfect. The Luminar AI plug-in lets you quickly edit the image and create a title using the tools in your photo editor. After hours of editing a video, filmmakers and YouTubers can easily save time.

Although professionals appreciate AI photo editing, Luminar AI removes many of the barriers associated with photo editing – expensive editing software and advanced skills – so almost anyone can learn the basics and create memorable images without years of experience.

These are just a few of the new features in Luminar AI.

I was a fan of Luminar 4 and Luminar AI picks up where the other one left off. It offers just enough features to stand out from the crowd without overwhelming new users. While templates are an alternative to editing and forgetting, Luminar AI is robust enough for professionals and is therefore suitable for both beginners and photographers with years of experience in photo editing. Software like Photoshop and Lightroom may be the gold standard for professionals, but Luminar AI lowers the barrier to entry for anyone interested in the craft.

For beginners: templates

Luminar AI is divided into two parts. The template The tab applies custom looks to your image. And then there is that To edit Tab where you can learn about the more detailed aspects of photo editing. For beginners or those who need a quick edit, Luminar AI's templates are a great option. Luminar has dozens of templates nested under Collections and nested in categories themselves. It sounds confusing, but it isn't. For example, there are four collections of templates under the Portrait category: the Simple portraits Collection has five simple portrait templates.

Unedited imageLuminar AI suggests collections of templates in the upper right corner of the software under For this photo. This picture is unedited.

There are dozens of templates to choose from, but I have been able to see how users who rely on this software may get tired of using the same templates. An assets store sells collections of templates, heaven – for that Sky replacement AI Feature – and other resources to help you fix this. The collections sell for around $ 20, but there is also a subscription service that offers subscribers new templates and other assets every month, as well as a 15% discount on the Luminar Marketplace.

Templates may seem like Instagram filters, but they are far more advanced. Instead of applying a quick LUT, the template walks the image through the gamut and uses AI to tweak the photo until it looks right. Luminar AI makes it easy to find the right template as collections are suggested in the top right of the software. If a particular template is too thick, there's a handy slider in the lower right corner of the window template Tab that can tone down the effects. Those who want a quick edit can use the slider to adjust in a snap To edit Tab.

Winter Refuge templateI applied the Winter Refuge template to this image and it's good enough to export as is. I switched the before and after functions to see the difference.

Users with little to no experience with photo editing software can count on templates to produce some beautiful images. Learning to work in the To edit Only on the tab can you get the most out of the software. The most effective way to use this software, in my opinion, is to first apply a template to an image and then edit it until it is correct. Without that To edit In this tab, users will be missing out on the most groundbreaking features of Luminar AI.

In my experience, applying templates was incredibly fast compared to Luminar 4, so I could quickly click through as many templates as I wanted before settling on the right one. Having used both Luminar 4 and Luminar AI on the same computer, the latter appears to be the less resource hungry of the two and the fastest.

Slide right for more AI

The To edit The tab is where the magic happens – this is where you can find out how the sausage is made. Users who have studied Luminar 4 are at home in Luminar AIs To edit and those with photo editing experience don't get lost too. The edit menu isn't as robust as Lightroom, but it has a curve editor for colors that I know a lot of like.

To see your progress, you can click the eyeball icon in the top right corner of the software, which will show you the original, unedited image. The before and after function, located to the left of the eyeball, splits the image in two to show you what it looked like before and after the edits. If you are concerned that you have gone too far with an edit, both functions are helpful.

Tab When the Essential Tool tab is open, you can see the white dots next to each setting. These are settings applied by the template that you can change.

Luminar AIs To edit tab is well designed and nests menus and settings in a meaningful way. After a few uses, navigating the user interface feels like a matter of course. There are four tool tabs arranged vertically on the right side of the screen in the To edit Tab. Each tool tab is marked with an icon on the right side of the software.

The Essential The tab is the most important and the one you want to use in every picture. The Creative All landscape functions and other settings such as: Mood, the LUTs and Film grain. The Portrait Tools tab has the fewest number of features, but it is the most effective and innovative for portrait photography. Finally, that Professional The Tool tab contains settings such as Evade and Burn and clone and stamp, as well as Super contrast and Color harmony.

If you've applied a template before editing, you'll see small white dots next to each setting you've applied. While it's a small thing, it's great because you can visualize exactly what the template did and customize it yourself. As you make your changes, the same white dots will appear next to the settings you are using. This is a great reminder of your previous settings in case you want to undo a previous setting.

The best features in Luminar AI

I won't go into detail about every setting in Luminar AI, but I want to highlight the ones that stand out the most, especially those that use AI to enhance the imagery. Below you will find my favorites on the individual tool tabs as well as brief explanations of the individual tools.


Composition AI

Composition AIAfter I clicked Composition AI it cut a bit out of my hair, but I like the result. If you're not satisfied with Composition AI, you can remove it or use the sliders to adjust it.

This is by far my new favorite tool and one that I'll be using on every image in the future. Since I am not a trained photographer, I lack the "eye" of those who make a living from it, so my pictures often look uninspired. The Composition AI accesses its library of high-quality photos and adjusts the composition, cropping and perspective of your image to perfectly frame your image. To enable it, select the Composition AI menu and click the rectangular Composition AI button – Luminar AI will do the rest. You can still adjust all of these settings after using Composition AI. Take this as a suggestion.

Improve AI

This menu contains two settings:Accent AI and Sky Enhancer AI– This makes it easier to edit the image lighting. Instead of tweaking the contrast, highlights, shadows, and saturation, Accent AI's slider does it all. All you have to do is move the slider to the right. It's simple and effective.

Sky Enhancer AI does the same thing except in the sky instead of the whole image. Sky Enhancer AI is smart enough to tell the difference between the sky and a body of water, and to improve the overall appearance and color of the sky. For those who do landscape photography, this is an essential feature that will make the sky pop without looking wrong.

Structure AI

Structure AI is the most subtle of the AI ​​settings in the Basics Tools tab, but no less useful. The two settings quantity and Boost, work to sharpen or smoothen the detail in an image. Move the quantity The slider to the left smooths the detail and makes the image appear almost blurry or blurry, while moving it to the left sharpens the detail. To adjust Boost aims to improve details and add one HDR-like appearance, according to Luminar, but I didn't find it that useful.


Heaven AI

Sky image example 1This original sky in this picture looks perfect in my opinion.

Sky image example 2I added a dramatic sky that looks very believable. It completely changes the picture, but looks great.

In all of the Luminar AI marketing collateral, Sky AI is the most used setting to show how advanced the software is. Sky AI is also available in Luminar 4 and works the same way, although Skylum claims Luminar AI implements this setting 30% faster than Luminar 4. I agree that it feels faster.

Sky AI replaces the sky in your image with one from the software. Replacing the sky looks natural and I think it can fool most people so I recommend using it. I can't use it for every outdoor shot, but it's great to have as a backup. Other settings adjust the position of the horizon and the horizon blending to make it look even more natural. You can also add your sky or buy it from Skylum.

Augmented Sky AI

Augmented Sky AIAs much as I want the mountains in this picture to be real, they are not. And it doesn't look very believable. However, it's pretty impressive that you can apply this with the click of a button.

This feature, which is used to add objects to the background of an image, is one of the coolest in Luminar AI. It has a wow factor, but it's mostly useless. It adds a curated set of objects to the background, which is cool, especially for those new to Photoshop, but it looks wrong. No matter what object I place or how I adjust it, it always looks obvious and artificial.

If you want to create a silly picture for your friends, give it a try, but it doesn't look professional at all and I certainly wouldn't post a photo to a client using this feature. The software deserves some credit for this, but it's not yet at a stage where it can be used by professionals. That being said, I'll definitely add mountains to any outdoor image I do as a prank.

Atmosphere AI

I can see why this is useful for landscape photography, but most users don't give a lot of miles. Atmosphere AI adds fog, mist, or haze to the foreground of the image to give it a more dramatic look, and it can look great with the right image. You can adjust the density and depth of the selected effect using sliders. Atmospheric AI could be awesome with the right external image, but for many it may be too cumbersome.


Those familiar with video editing software have probably heard of LUTs, and this feature applies a LUT to your image. LUTs change the color of the image and give your image a custom color image that you can apply to other images to stay consistent. Luminar AI already has many LUTs to choose from, but you can choose your own. The quantity Setting adjusts the effect of the LUT.

Film grain

There is not much to say about this besides the aesthetics. Like the crackle of vinyl in lo-fi hip-hop songs, Filmkorn adds a layer of nostalgia to your image. Some like it. Some don't. If you are part of the previous group, you can change the amount, size, and roughness of the film grain. I like it, but I try to use it wisely. Too much use feels like a crutch.


Face AI

As the name suggests, Face AI deals with a subject's face, and the results are very effective. Face AI's menu is one of the largest, customizing face lighting, eyes, and mouth. There are tons of settings here that you can play with. Slim face makes a subject's face smaller (shock!), and while it may be useful to some, I'm not convinced. It's okay to use it for myself, although I probably wouldn't. When you use it on someone else, you feel like you are unnaturally changing how they look. Image manipulation is designed to enhance a person's existing functions, not completely change their appearance.

Face AII used Face Light, Iris Visibility and Teeth Whitening. The difference is noticeable without looking excessive.

By doing eyes In the section, you can lighten, enlarge, and remove red eyes and dark circles. You can even replace the subject's eyes with other eyes for some reason – even cat or owl eyes. The mouth Section isn't as effective, but it can whiten teeth. Overall, Face AI has an impact, but the plethora of settings can be confusing at first. The Face light The feature is best of all, and I recommend using it in any picture with someone's face.

Skin AI

Instead of airbrushing someone's face, Skin AI does it for you. Just set that quantity Slider for smoothing the skin. Be careful not to go too far as the skin can look waxy. The Shine removal The slider removes unwanted shine on the skin. Finally, that Check box for eliminating skin defects AI does what it says it does. I tried using it on an image and it fixed some bugs, but it also left some image artifacts that looked weird. Use it as needed, but check the picture before proceeding.

Body AI

Similar to the "slim face" function, this setting reduces the size of the subject's body and stomach. It feels weird making a person thinner, especially when they haven't asked for it. I doubt I'll be using it much, but if you or your client want a more flattering look, you'll need to tweak this setting.


Super contrast

According to the manual for Luminar AI, the Supercontrast tool "precisely adjusts tone contrast with six different controls that include highlights, midtones and shadows, for finely tuned results." This setting gives you more control over contrast and can make an image pop bring.

Color harmony

Similar to Supercontrast for contrast, Color Harmony gives you more control over color. This is the best feature for adjusting color and one that I will likely visit with every image I edit on Luminar AI. The brilliance The slider pops everything up, and you can easily adjust the overall feel of the image using the slider warmth Slider.

Why it changes the game

When it comes to expertise behind a camera, I'm more of a videographer than a photographer. I'm not very good at composing great still images, and I have trouble finding the right balance when editing images. Luminar 4 fixed that for me, and Luminar AI takes it one step further. The software feels faster than its predecessor and doesn't use as much computer resources. It's all good, but it's not groundbreaking. What's really groundbreaking is that Luminar AI is democratizing the craft of photo editing so that anyone with a digital camera can edit amazing shots.

You don't have to be a professional

I've seen several opinion pieces arguing that AI will ruin photography because it homogenizes photography and eliminates the creativity and uniqueness of the craft. But I do not believe that. I don't think great pictures belong only to those with the best equipment and skills, especially when most people are wearing smartphones with cameras. While professionals have the resources to consistently produce high quality images, everyone should have access to tools that make better photos possible.

Luminar AI Test PortraitThis is another picture that I edited and I love the way it turned out. I don't think I could have done this with any other photo editing software, and that's the beauty of Luminar AI.

Although Luminar AI bears the brunt of the attack due to its heavy reliance on AI, even Adobe recently introduced the Adobe Sensei AI capabilities to Photoshop. Some telephones, such as B. Google Pixel, use AI for the camera Night sky The mode magically reproduces low-light images as if they were fully lit. Like it or not, the future of photography involves AI. So it is best to embrace them. There will still be room for professionals who prefer to take photos and edit more traditionally, but those who use AI will complement their skills and improve the quality of work across the board.

Photo editing for everyone

As someone who occasionally flirts with photography, I'm not an expert on Photoshop. While Lightroom is great, the monthly subscription is not. I would much rather pay once for software that I use occasionally to get the most out of my images, albeit with the help of AI capabilities. I don't compete in a National Geographic competition, so all I need is something simple to edit images for articles, social media, or for personal projects. I think Luminar AI does just that, but it's still robust enough to grow and expand with.

For beginners, Luminar AI offers a stripped-down editing experience that allows users to improve their skills. Luminar AI's straightforward approach to photo editing is egalitarian, simple software that welcomes everyone and supposedly does professional looking work out of amateur photography. For anyone getting their first DSLR or mirrorless camera, Luminar AI is a must have.

Fake shuttle launch with AII leave you with this picture of a space shuttle launch that I have certainly seen in person.

Discover even more editing tips and techniques (as well as some freebies):


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