Travels with Luminar

I’ve had a little more time to work with Luminar and in general I’m liking it.

But there are some changes from Lightroom that take getting used to.

  • If you use Apples Photos as your Digital Asset Manager (DAM) then your Luminar processing history is not retained by either app. This may be rectified when Luminar’s bespoke DAM arrives.
  • This lack of history makes it hard to remember how particular images were processed and therefore it’s can be hard to recreate styles, unless you made a preset of the style.
  • There is a vast array of variables when processing in professional mode eg workspaces, filters, presets and LUTS. This makes a powerful processing tool, but it is slightly overwhelming in the early days. Hopefully this will be refined as the software matures.
  • The gradient filter appears slightly more subtle than Lightroom’s. Although I may be applying it incorrectly.
  • Because Luminar uses layers, sometimes I’ve had difficulty combining these rather than a new layer cancelling or masking an earlier one. Again this can probably be dealt with by understanding blend modes.

 

Having said all that, I’m generally happy with the results.

 

Processing plunge

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I have just started to migrate from Lightroom to Luminar.  At the moment it means using Apple Photos as my catalogue and Luminar as an external editor.

Luminar has a few rought edges which I think Skylum is addressing. For example, I find it a little laggy at times, it actually crashed twice during the first couple of hours of experimentaion. There also seems to be an issue with the apparent sharpness of files during processing. With regard to sharpness, I found it best to apply sharpening in Photos itself after processing in Luminar.

The Luminar user experience is very different to Lightroom and I’m taking a while to acclimatise. However, I have hight hopes that I will be able to develop a streamlined workflow.

The main reason I moved to the new software is the subscription model that Adobe has established. Call me a luddite, but, where possible, I prefer the standalone software option; especially at a third of the price (Luminar is currently on sale on the app store).

 

2. Ilford XP2 Super in Ilfosol 3

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Here is one resulting image from the processing of XP2 in Black & White chemistry.

It’s clearly very high constrast, which I quite like, and that may be due to the developing time of 21 minutes (this came from the Massive Dev app). I’m pretty happy with the results. There is very little grain, which is ok with me, and the negative seems sharp (I’ve cropped and added a little sharpening (+10) and clarity (+5) in lightroom).

The negatives have a mild magenta cast, but that has made little difference in B&W.

Nowadays, the benefit of C41 high street processing is long gone. There is nowhere in my town that could process and return the same day. I think they all have to send images off for developing. The only place I’ve found 1 hour or same day processing is Snappy Snaps, Byres Road in Glasgow and that’s too far for regular processing.

So, apart from an incredibly long processing time, I’d say that it’s worth processing XP2 at home in Black & White chemistry.

No filter

I have an ongoing ‘discussion’ with a family member who is not a fan of processing digital images. She prefers ‘pure’ images straight out of the camera. I get what she means but I also point out (the discussion takes the same direction every time) that the image on a phone or cheaper camera is almost always a jpeg. Which means that the raw image has already been processed. The difference is whether the camera makes the processing decisions or the person does.

There can be snobbery and inverse snobbery about processing images. Those who prefer minimal manipulation may be surprised to know that, even in the age of film, processing decisions were made. I remember seeing this when, I think it was, Magnum released contact sheets and annotated prints with instructions about visual effects.

However there can be snobbery too relating to how technical processing is perceived to be. For example, in an earlier blog I suggested the inclusion of filters in Instagram was essentially dumbing down. But in the immediately preceding post I lauded the provision of film effect Lightroom presets. Surely there is little difference between Instagram filters and Lightroom presets borrowed from others.

Lightroom Presets

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today I was trying to grab a few shots between giving friends a lift home, working and dinner. Such is the life of a middle aged hobbyist. I look back on my wasted youth with envy. Why didn’t I buy a Leica in my 20s when I could have afforded one (maybe). Why didn’t I take street up phototgraphy when I actually still visited some of the world’s vibrant cities. Not that I’d change anything in the present, I’m glad with where I’ve ended up.

Anyway, I was messing around with Lightroom Presets. I used one that Eric Kim gave away years ago – it mimics fuji velvia 400. Now, I’d normally never crank up the contrast or reduce some of the saturation like this, but I was delighted with the results. This is pretty much the image in my head when I took the photo; the raw file looked nothing like it.

Hats off to Eric Kim for the preset and for giving it away for free.  I suppose this shows one of the challenges and opportunies with digital. The raw sensor data gives pretty flat images, so you can shape it in thousands of ways. But you are limited by your imagination and willingness to spend time experimenting. With analogue much more was decided at the start by your film choice.

 

 

 

Moving to Lightroom

This image is my first processed using Lightroom.

Sadly Apple have decided to stop developing Aperture and when I recently upgraded my OS I was unable to use Aperture at all.  So, I finally made the switch to Adobe.  It’s hard to argue with one of the most successful brands of all time, but I don’t personally like Apple’s apparent ongoing abandonment of pro users.

First impressions, in my opinion Aperture was much more user friendly. But Lightroom seems like a pretty powerful tool and despite what I find an ugly interface it will do the job just fine.