Luminar Neo Tutorials | Essentials Editing Deep Dive



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This Luminar Neo tutorial will be long since we have many editing tools to cover in the essentials section.

And I’m going to use a few different images to show you how to edit specific types of problems you’ll encounter occasionally.

And then, you can apply that knowledge to your own images.

So if you are ready, let’s do it.

Luminar Neo Editing Tools

All right. So I’d like to start editing inside the Develop section here.

Develop Tools

And the first thing that I like to change is my camera profile. By default, we have a profile created by Luminar, and a profile is basically how your image will be rendered inside a raw app like Luminar Neo.

So if you click on this menu here, you’ll see some external profiles created by either Adobe or your camera manufacturer.

Every time you hover over one, it will re-render your image.

And based on the settings saved in that profile, it will change the colors rendered and the brightness levels of the tones in the image.

So which one should you use?

I would review each of these and look at which one gives you a good starting point for your editing.

For myself, I like a clean slate, and I will choose Camera Flat or Camera Neutral.

So I’m looking for detail in an image that was visible when I took the photo.

So camera flat for this particular image shows me the detail I saw when I captured this image.

So there’s a lot of detail in the valley and the sky, but based on the histogram, I can bring out more Detail with my tone adjustments.

I’m going to select Camera Flat. And the histogram, as we’ve discussed in a previous tutorial, shows us a lot of detail in the shadows, the blocks, the highlights, and the whites.

The next thing I will do for my edits is adjust those tones accordingly.

So based on what the histogram tells us, there’s more detail in the highlights, and we can bring back that detail by adjusting the highlight slider to the left.

And as I do, you can notice in the clouds that there is more definition in those clouds and more details.

So I’m gonna set this to minus 100, and then if I wanna bring out more detail in the shadows, I can drag that to the right, and it will make it brighter.

By doing this, we begin losing contrast, or the image becomes flat, so we need to add contrast.

You can use Smart Contrast from here, bringing back that contrast or increasing the Contrast.

Or I prefer to use the curves tool to add contrast instead of the slider here because the curves tool will provide more precision and control over that contrast.

And I’ll show you how to do that in just a minute.

Now as far as exposure, the exposure was as good as I could get it at the time of capture. I’m happy with the Exposure, so I don’t need to adjust it for the sake of changing it. If the exposure is good like it is now, there’s no need to make an adjustment.

If you still find that your image is a little dark or too bright, then you can slide it to the right to make it Brighter to the left to make it Darker.

Next, I look at my blacks and my whites because I want the image I’m shooting to have as much detail from the blacks to the whites, which it already has.

So there are no gaps to fill, as we discussed in the histogram tutorial, chapter five.

And I don’t need to adjust the blacks or the whites unless I choose to.

So I may wanna make the blacks a little bit darker and the whites a little bit brighter, and that’s just going to add a little more contrast.

So once I’m done with the tones, I move into the curves tool next to add some contrast.

And here’s a popular method for adding contrast. Finally, we’re gonna create what is known as an S curve.

So I’m gonna click and drag down, which bends this linear line and makes the shadows and the blacks darker and the highlights and the whites over here.

So if I click and drag up or do the opposite, that adds contrast. So you’ll notice here in the background, there’s a histogram.

So the tonal values are listed in this grid as well.

So again, we have our blacks and shadows here, Mid-tones, highlights, and Whites.

So by adding this S-curve, we add contrast to the overall image, and you can plot more anchor points versus the two I said by clicking and dragging.

And this is what I mean by more precision and control because you can add the contrast exactly where it needs to be in the different tonal values of your image.

Then the other two anchor points are in the corners. So here we have our White Point up here and our Black Point down here.

You can also adjust the tones with these anchor points down here to further adjust it for your creative vision.

You can also target your red, green, and blue color channels. Removing a color cast or adding a color tint all depends on your creative vision and what you want to achieve.

So with the blue channel, if I click and drag up, that’s going to add blue to the image down is going to add green.

You want to add some blue to the shadow, so you can bring that anchor point here and then click and drag this one down to limit that adjustment being applied to the highlights.

So now that the blue color is being added mainly in the black and the blues to reset, you’re just gonna double click on these anchor points to set it back to where it was before.

Color Photo Editing Tools

Next, we have our color options here to change the white balance to change the temperature, tint, saturation, and vibrance.

So white balance is adjusting the colors in your image to be neutral. So if you have Whites and Blacks in your photo, you don’t want a color tint in those whites and blacks.

So you’re gonna create a neutral color by adjusting the white balance.

And you can do that with this eyedropper tool.

And once you click on an area that should be pure white or pure black, it will adjust the white balance accordingly.

All right, so I will put this back as “Shot” because I don’t necessarily want to White Balance a sunset or sunrise photo. After all, they want that golden yellow color in the blacks and whites.

Otherwise, if we remove it, then it looks fake. But I will adjust the white balance for portraits to ensure that the skin tones and the colors look natural.

You can also change the temperature of your image to be warmer by adjusting the temperature to the right to the left.

We’ll make the image cooler. You can add magenta or green with the tint slider. Then you can adjust the saturation and the vibrance accordingly as well.

So saturation and vibrance do the same thing, but they’re slightly different.

The saturation and vibrance are increasing the purity of the color or making it more intense.

So saturation will make those colors a lot more vibrant versus being at the neutral zero setting.

But you adjust Saturation to the left. In that case, it will remove the purity of those colors, and you’re left with a monochrome image.

Again, vibrance works similarly to saturation but targets a different set of tonal values versus saturation.

And you can see that. So let’s go ahead and adjust this to the right.

You can see it’s not as intense as saturation, but once we adjust this to minus 100 compared to saturation, it’s not a pure black-and-white image.

There are still some color tones in there, and that’s because vibrance is targeting the mid-tones, a little bit of the shadows here, and a little bit of the highlights.

And that’s why we still have color in the image.

And I like to use Vibrance to create a retro effect by leaving a little bit of color in there and mixing in a little bit of that monochrome, creating that retro type of look.

All right, I’m gonna go ahead and reset that.

Next, we have sharpness. So sharpness will apply some contrast along the edges of the making, making the image sharper.

So as you increase it, the more you sharpen, the more the image will look sharper. Still, too much will degrade the image, and it will look fake if you’re trying to create something a little bit more creative, like a grunge type of look.

So that’s a possibility with sharpness.

The radius will increase how far outside that sharpening edge is being applied.

So if we place the radius at zero, no detail is being applied. Still, if we increase it slowly, it will begin gradually increasing how much or how far outside of that line or the edge of that detail.

And the more radius, the more that sharpening grows.

Masking will do the opposite, and it will begin removing sharpening in different parts of the image that you may not want to sharpen, for example, a blue sky.

We don’t need to sharpen a blue sky because there’s no detail, clouds, or anything else inside.

And you also don’t wanna sharpen your skin because if you start to Sharpen the skin too much, you will begin enhancing blemishes and skin pores.

We don’t want to make them more prominent with sharpening. So masking will begin removing the sharpening in those areas. 

Denoise Photo Editing Tool

Next, we have noise reduction. I’m going to pick a new image here.

This was shot at ISO 800, and if I zoom in here, it’s easier to see that digital noise, known as luminosity noise.

And that type of noise looks like film grain. So if you have some red, green, and blue color specs, that is color noise.

Sometimes you’ll have both. But for my images with my Nikon cameras, I mostly have luminosity.

You’ll need to adjust one or both depending on the type of noise you have in your images. And it’s pretty simple to use.

You just slide the luminosity or color slider to the right to reduce that noise.

And you can see it’s now beginning to minimize that noise. I also have my boost up to 89, which makes that luminosity noise reduction much more aggressive than the default of 25.

So if it’s not giving you the desired results, boost that luminosity or color noise reduction based on what you need for your image.


All right, next, we have Optics.

And this will help you fix some lens distortions that can occur with most lenses. But, of course, the distortion will differ from one lens to another.

So we will turn on all three of these options to fix those lens distortions.

Now, if it’s not fixing the distortions as you would like, you do have some sliders here to adjust it for that particular lens.

Luminar Neo is reading the metadata of your raw file. So it knows what lens was used for this image, and it’s been pre-programmed to fix the lens distortions for that specific lens.

So every lens creates some type of distortion, some more than others.

You want to ensure you have all of these turned on to fix those issues with the optics.

All right, next, we have our transform editing tool. So let’s go ahead and pick out a new image for that editing tool.

And will help you fix issues shooting architecture, buildings, or things with a straight edge like this pillar here.

Now, because I shot this with a wide-angle lens, it distorts the perspective. Those straight lines should be straight and add a curve or make them lean like this pillar is right here. It’s leaning to the right. So we can use transform to straighten that out.

We also need to adjust the horizontal or the aspect slider here to further refine our transformation to what it should look like at the time of capture.

All right, so before we go over these other editing tools, there’s one thing I need to share with you that some of them have in common: the masking tools.

So if we look inside the black-and-white section here, it says masking.

So masking will allow you to target your edits to specific areas in the image based on where you apply that mask.

So you can target the mountains, the sky, the river, or several other elements in an image, like portraits, transportation, and more.

And you have these four different options here to apply those edits specifically to that location of the image where as I mentioned, that mask is applied.

So if you select the brush, you can paint over an area and then get this red overlay to show you where you applied the mask.

So anything in red is part of that mask. So you can go in and make an adjustment.

We convert that to black and white only. So that part of the image has been targeted with that edit.

Okay, I’m gonna go ahead and undo that. And the other options are a linear and radio gradient.

So a linear gradient, you’re going to click and drag down, and then those edits will be applied from the top down to here.

So 100% of the edit is applied here, and then it gradually disappears until none of that edit is used here.

So again, I can apply a black-and-white option to that linear gradient, and you can see how it gradually goes from black and white to some color to full color below.

With your linear gradient, you can click Andra down and rotate it if you need to go the other way or let’s go ahead and undo that. You can start from down here and work up.

If you’ve already said it, you can click on the middle line here to rotate it in any direction you need.

You can click on the outer lines to make it wider or thinner, and you can click on the center option here to move that gradient as well.

We also have a radial gradient that works the same way, except it will be a radial gradient.

If you need an oval, click and drag one of the sides here, and then you can also rotate that.

Now, one of the most potent aspects of Luminar Neo is the ability to use artificial intelligence.

And we have that in masking as well. We have what is known as mask ai, and Luminar Neo will analyze your image to find different elements within it.

So for this image, it’s found six different elements.

So we have the sky, water, flora, architecture, mountains, and natural ground.

Now architecture, there’s really little of anything in the image that would be represented as architecture.

This little cliff over here could be.

I know this is a parking area, so it may have picked up that I need clarification on.

Suppose you want to target a specific part of your image. In that case, you only have to click on the element Luminar Neo found.

Then it will apply an overlay or a mask to that area, and then you can convert that or apply that edit to that mask. 

Enhance AI Photo Editing Tool

Let’s look at Enhance AI this time.

I want to return to this landscape image because you’re new to editing photos. You’re not quite sure where to start, or you just find it confusing because you don’t have the experience yet to determine how much of an edit you should apply to the highlight shadows, blacks, whites, and maybe the tone curve here is a little bit too intimidating or confusing at this time, that’s fine.

Go ahead and reset these edits because you may want to use the Enhanced AI instead. So

What it’s going to do is analyze your image. It will realize that there’s detail in the highlights in the shadows that are not currently visible.

It will adjust those tonal ranges for you automagically and improve the image’s appearance based on its artificial intelligence.

So we’re gonna go ahead and adjust the accent to the right, and just like that, with one slider, the detail in the shadows is revealed. The details in the highlights in the sky in the clouds here are also revealed or brought back.

So instead of coming into the develop module and adjusting all these tonal values, you can use enhanced AI somewhat.

Now that I’ve clicked off of Enhance AI and entered a different module, it placed those edits here in the edits tab.

So if I want to continue enhancing this image, I can either come back to the edit section or do it from here, and then it will stack it on top of the other one.

So if I want to come in with the sky enhancer and work on that sky a bit more, I can do that from here. If we go back into edits, we can see the first Enhance settings I applied, and then the second one is here.

I prefer to try and do them all in one. So don’t try and navigate to another editing tool until you have it figured out or until you have the edit settings exactly where you want them.

Now we do have masking. As I mentioned previously, most of the tools have a masking option. Still, “Enhance AI” is not something I would apply masking to.

I want the entire image to benefit from the AI built into Luminar Neo to enhance those details in all the tonal ranges. 

Structure AI Photo Editing Tool

It’s not something I use for this, but I will use it for structure ai.

Sometimes I don’t want the sky to be enhanced with this editing tool.

So structure will apply sharpening along the edges or add contrast along the edges to give the impression that it’s sharper. If you use too much, it will give it a Grungy type of look, and it will over-edit your image, in my opinion. This doesn’t look good for landscapes.

If you want a grungy type of effect, though, that’s one way of doing it, but I would only go that high in some cases.

If you go the opposite way instead of sharpening, it will soften those details.

So it’s kind of blurred out to give it that soft look.

Now, if you want to make these edits more aggressive, a boost option will target more detail and enhance that amount even more.

As I mentioned, I will apply a mask for “Structure AI” if I want that particular type of edit to be applied to a specific element and nowhere else.

For landscapes, I typically don’t mask out for structure ai, but I will for portraits. I’m going to sharpen the person’s hair, the eyes, and things like that, but not so much the skin or the background, especially if I have a really shallow depth of field for that particular image.

Now, another thing I wanna mention about masking that I didn’t before is that we have some mask actions down here.

I’m going to apply a brush right in this area here. I can’t see that overlay, but if you go into your mask actions here, you can click Show to show it. You can invert, clear it, or fill it to fill the entire image. You can also copy and paste to another photo.

Let’s go inside the catalog here and choose a new image.

Erase Photo Editing Tool

And for this particular image on this day, I had a lot of dust on the sensor, and I love using the erase tool here to automatically remove dust spots in one click.

Now, it’s not always going to remove every single dust spot, so if it doesn’t, you can paint over the area and it will remove it.

Or if you just want to Remove something in particular, you can just paint over it and click on erase. It will magically make that item disappear.

Now, you need to increase the size of the brush or make it smaller.

In that case, you can use the slider here or your keyboard shortcuts, which is the left bracket key to its willer, and then the right bracket to make it larger.

All right, I’m gonna do another image, and this time I want to go with this photo.

And let’s say you want to get rid of all of these power lines while in a Erase, you have a one-click button that will automatically remove all of the power lines for you in one click.

Now, depending on how many power lines you have in your image, it could take a few seconds to a few minutes, and the more power lines you have, the longer it’s gonna take, and boom, all the power lines are gone.

How cool is that? I love it. All right. Now let’s take a look at the color edit settings.

So we have saturation and vibrance just like we did in the developed section, but now we can mask out the areas where we want to apply those edits.

Remove color cast is going to work just like the white balance eyedropper tool in the developed section where you’re going to remove a color cast, and it’s a lot easier from here.

So if you’re having trouble with the Develop section, go ahead and remove that color cast from here. Now, my favorite part of the color adjustments here is the HSL section.

So HSL stands for hue saturation, and luminance hue will allow you to change colors.

Saturation will allow you to change the purity or intensity of that color. Luminous will allow you to make that color brighter or darker. And when I say that color, you’re targeting these individual color channels here to apply those edits specifically to that color channel.

So if you wanna change the colors, let’s say, of the trees here, which are green, and you wanna make them more yellow, so it’s more of a fall-like color, you can adjust those colors accordingly.

With this slider, we can adjust the yellows to be more orange or yellow, whatever, or more green, or whatever you want to do.

Saturation works precisely the same way.

You can reduce the intensity of that red color or make it more intense based on your creative vision.

And again, you can target any of these color channels here.

And then luminance will make that red or any other color brighter or darker.

Black and White Photo Editing Tool

All right, let’s look at the B&W options.

So all we need to do is convert to black and white with this button.

Then you can target the luminance and saturation of these different color channels to create something more custom versus just removing the color purity or the saturation in the image.

So with luminance, we’ll take those reds and make them brighter or darker depending on your creative vision.

And then, you can target the other color channels in your image to achieve that look you’re trying to get or the style you want for your particular image.

So this is a more advanced technique for converting to black and white versus just reducing the saturation to minus 100.

This is my preferred method because I have more control over these color channels to get the look exactly how I want it.

Details Photo Editing Tools

All right, next, we have details.

And with this, you’re going to target different size details to apply contrast to the edge of the Details to give the appearance that those details are sharper, so we have more control with these settings here versus some of the other options that we went over with earlier.

So targeting smaller, medium, or more extensive details will help you enhance specific areas of the image versus all of the image or all of the details in the picture.

You can also use masking to further refine where those edits are being applied.

And then, we have de-noise, which is similar to the options in the developed section up here.

Landscape Photo Editing Tool

And the landscape is strategically designed for landscape photos.

You can use de haze to remove haze or to add more contrast to your image.

If you shoot a picture like this one during the golden hour, you can enhance it with the golden hour option here.

If you want to increase the intensity or improve the trees in the grass and everything else, you can do that with this slider here.

So once you have your foliage enhancer set, you can come into the advanced settings and change the colors of that foliage from here versus doing it in the color section with HSL. 

Add a Vignette

And the last editing tool in the essential section is Vignettes to the right.

We’ll add a bright vignette around the edges, and the corners left will make it darker, and you can increase the size of that vignette with the size options.

And then, under advanced settings, you can change how round that vignette is.

Let’s go ahead and make this darker so we can see we’re gonna increase the roundness or make it more oval.

By going to the left, you can increase or decrease the feathering of that vignette. Then the inner light will fade out from the center to make it a little bit brighter in the center.

So less of that vignette is targeting the image.

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