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Gary McIntyre On AI Augmented Sky And Creative Photo Editing In Luminar 4

Gary McIntyre is an award-winning Scottish landscape photographer and here he talks us through the AI Augmented Sky and Creative Photo Editing features in Luminar 4.

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Gary McIntyre

 

 

About the author

Gary McIntyre was born on the west coast of Scotland. Being surrounded by dramatic landscapes has fueled his passion for photography and travel. Visiting countries like Iceland, Norway, and Slovenia has led Gary to plan his biggest photographic adventure yet for 2020 – the Himalayas and, in particular, the Everest base camp. Gary has always wanted to capture Mount Everest with his own camera. After receiving a few honorable mentions in international photo competitions in 2014 and 2015, he decided to focus on his photography full-time and is now fortunate enough to teach photography and image editing at Ayrshire College.

 

 

Luminar 4

I discovered Luminar just over a year ago and it’s become my favourite editing program. Whether you’re a new or seasoned photographer, you should give Luminar and its Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools a go. It can even be used as a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom.

A slider in Luminar can equal two or three layers in Photoshop - which equals less time editing and more time photographing.    

 

AI Augmented Sky

The new AI Augmented Sky tool in Luminar 4 lets you add objects to the sky and put your imagination into overdrive. It contains five sliders:

  • Amount - Adjusts how strong the object appears in the scene (think of this as opacity).
  • Warmth - Changes the temperature (cool or warm).
  • Relight - Relights the object. The effect will vary depending on the object you’ve added.
  • Mask Refinement - Does what it says on the tin. Objects appear in your scene already masked, and this slider allows you to tweak the edges.
  • Defocus - Allows you to soften the object and add depth of field.

In addition to these sliders there’s a Place Object tool that allows you to scale your object and position it anywhere in the sky and an Edit Mask option containing Brush, Radial Mask, Gradient Mask, and Luminosity.

Learn more about AI Augmented Sky here and download Luminar 4 to start editing immediately with a 14-day trial. If you like what you see, use the exclusive discount code 'ePHOTOzine20' for £10 off the full purchase price.

 

    

Skylum Luminar 4 General Article Images

 

The impossible shot

The Sycamore Gap tree is located along Hadrian’s wall near Crag Lough in Northumberland, England.

AI Augmented Sky allowed me to place the moon and birds in a few clicks.

'This is not photography!' I hear you say. This is photo art, photo manipulation. This is sacrilege!

Well, yes and no. Yes if you claim this is a photograph you captured in-camera, in which case you’re only fooling yourself. But no if you’re open to digital editing and exploring your imagination, i.e. having fun with your images.

 

The thought process

I wanted to create a blue hour shot with the moon rising, so I dialed back the Exposure just over half a stop, desaturated the blues in the Color slider, and turned down the Luminance. To touch up the grass and tree, I decreased the Saturation and Luminance of the yellows before pulling back the Luminance of the greens.

I also slightly adjusted the Details enhancer.

Finally, I removed a couple of dust spots with the Erase tool, which created a new layer I’ll be working in.

 

 

Step 1 - Add objects with AI Augmented Sky

Skylum step 1

AI Augmented Sky comes with 34 objects and lets you add your own.

Moon 1 from the Luminar library suits this composition perfectly. I used Place Object to center it above the tree.

I dialed back the Amount to around halfway so the moon was slightly transparent and matched the background. The Warmth slider was fine, so I moved to Relight. The default value is 20; more blends the object better with your scene, while 0 intensifies the brightness, though not destructively.

Skylum step 1

Finally, I defocused the moon a bit so it didn’t overpower the image.

AI Augmented Sky allows you to quickly add objects and create fun new images from shots with lackluster skies.

 

STEP 2 - Create Atmosphere

Step 2

To achieve the mood and effect I was after, I applied a gradient to both the top and bottom. At the top, I created the illusion of blue hour light. At the bottom, I made the following adjustments to strengthen the blue hour effect:

  • Exposure -41
  • Contrast +10
  • Shadows -14
  • Highlights -15

The Orton Effect

The Orton Effect is overused in landscape photography, but it’s effective if used to subtly soften the image globally or locally. In other programs, an action or plugin is required to achieve this effect. With Luminar, one slider does it all.

 

STEP 3 - Colour Grading With LUTS

Step 3

Lookup tables (LUTs) add colour grading to your image. Luminar 4 has 41 LUTs and the option to add your own. You can download more from the Skylum website.

For this image, Red Trace at its default setting of 30 suited the feel.

Stamping the layer

If you want to add more objects to your sky, stamp the layer. This combines all visible layers into one new layer and re-enables the Object button in AI Augmented Sky.

Adding birds

For this image, I opted for a new image layer so I could add birds to the foreground. Luckily, I just happened to have a flock of them on my hard drive. First, I added a new layer containing the bird image and used the Darken Layer Blending option to remove the white background. Next I positioned the birds.

Step 3

I wanted to give a sense of scale and realism. Having them fly off to the right and over the edge of the moon created depth. To do this, I used Layer Transform to scale the birds and used Flip Horizontal to flip them right.

Back in the edit panel, I reduced the opacity below 50% so the birds looked distant.

 

STEP 4 - Add A Look

Step 4

With one click, you can add Looks (predefined filter settings) to your images. You can adjust the intensity of Looks via a slider and can adjust individual filter settings to your liking.

Camden is my favoured Look for most of my images, as it complements my style. For this edit, I used Camden Desat, which helped me achieve the lighting I was after.

Cropping in Luminar is a cinch, with custom cropping and predefined options.

Wrapping up

Creating this image probably took less time than reading this article. That’s the thing about Luminar: You quickly get results you can be proud of.

Even if you’re new to photography and editing, I highly recommend Luminar. It has a shallow learning curve, and with AI Augmented Sky you can save dreary shots, reinterpret your photographs, and create new worlds!

Learn more about AI Augmented Sky here and download Luminar 4 to start editing immediately with a 14-day trial. If you like what you see, use the exclusive discount code 'ePHOTOzine20' for £10 off the full purchase price.

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