A couple of weeks ago, I sold three photos to someone in Germany, so I had a little extra money (thanks so much, PM!). I could have saved it, and probably should have, but I’ve been on such an austere financial diet the last few months that when I was given the opportunity to purchase a new graphic program, along with several additional “modules” for $89, I did it. This subscription will last 1.5 years, and in the meantime, I get all the updates for free. I could not turn it down.
I’ve been playing with it the last couple of days. It’s different from Photoshop and my Topaz products, and completely reprogrammed from Luminar AI. This is Luminar NEO. It will take a lot of exploration, and watching of YT videos, to grasp the high points. You know how I love learning new things though. I’m really looking forward to this! Warning: I get into quite a lot of detail in this post, so bear with me!)
I purchased NEO about a year ago for $34 (I got a deal as someone who’d bought several iterations of their graphic programs in the past), but the program was incomplete. Side Note: the programmers live in the Ukraine, and we all know what’s going on there. I felt their pain, but the program was useless to me at that time, so I asked for a refund.
A year later, the program is really something! It’s AI driven and can do amazing things I am only just starting to explore.
Because I’m more comfortable in Photoshop than any other program, I always start there, adjusting curves (blacks and whites), erasing stuff that shouldn’t be there, getting rid of noise (with Topaz), etc. Previously, this is when I’d move to Luminar AI, but this time I went to NEO. Another change: I shot the originals in RAW and JPEG. RAW gives me a deeper palette and more options while processing. I’ve been told a “real” photographer only shoots in RAW. Yeah, well, I must not be one, then, because I mostly shoot in JPEG, and I’ve managed to create many beautiful pictures using that format. Still… I may be an old dog, but I can learn new tricks. 🙂
For these photos, I used the HDR module in NEO as a starting point. I miss HDR (high dynamic range). Back in the day, photographers would shoot brackets (usually consisting of three to five photos at evenly spaced exposures (digital cameras make this easy to set up or few would do it anymore), then layer them in Photoshop or another program and combine them in a special way. The beginning of HDR was often ugly, resulting in what photographer Jim Nix calls “clown vomit.” 🙂 Trey Ratcliff, a pioneer in HDR, changed all that, and it finally became a respected tool of photo processing.
You can still combine several different exposures in Photoshop and programs like Photomatix, and Luminar offers an HDR-specific program (which I own and occasionally use), but now I can do it in NEO, where I’m applying other adjustments, too. It just simplifies the process. Added bonus: it will also apply the effect to a single image, so if you hate doing brackets (pain in the butt, let me tell ya), this is a treat.