Luminar AI and a final “U” stories voting reminder

We’re getting down to the wire (whatever that means) with less than a day before the “U” Stories voting round closes.   

If you are a reader of our stories and someone who votes, thank you in advance for casting a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge U-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until noon, Chicago time, on Wednesday, December 16th.

So, today I tried Luminar AI . . . Skylum, the company who sells the Luminar and Aurora HDR photo-processing programs (among others), will tell you it’s not a replacement for Luminar 4 — meaning, it’s not Luminar 5 — and it’s not an upgrade for Luminar 4 . . . it’s a whole new way of processing photos by harnessing the power of AI . . .

. . . so I put the program through some paces (whatever that means). The above photo comes from this next photo . . .

Original Nikon D200 photo as shot.

OK, so that’s not much of a challenge, but even so, I didn’t see any magic happen when Luminar AI adjusted the photo based on “having learned from examining millions of photos.”

Especially since I still had to manually process it after the “magic of AI.”

Let me take another photo . . .

Original Nikon P900 photo as shot.

. . . and here’s the one processed by Luminar AI . . .

So, here’s the thing . . . this was pretty fast, but once again — after choosing a template — I did my own additional adjustments.

Basically, I see no difference between Luminar 4’s presets — which I then tweak — and these fabled Themes . . . which I then tweak.

I mean, like with Luminar 4, I could replace the sky with a more dramatic sky.

But, then, I’d have to tell people I did that. Why? Because I’m honest about what I present. If I alter the original — beyond normal post-processing tweaks — I tell my readers I did so.

For instance, take this photo of Pikes Peak I snapped in 2010 . . .

I can ‘amp’ up the overall photo a tad . . .

. . . and that’s OK, because it still looks like what I shot.

I can also tweak the overall mood of the photo . . .

. . . and that’s still OK . . . heck it might even be an improvement. From there, I could go all the way to Monochrome . . .

BUT — and this is KEY — if I add a hot air balloon . . .

. . . some readers might be fooled into thinking that balloon was there all along, and that’s dishonest . . . and hence, I tell them “I added the hot-air balloon” so that I don’t mislead them.

I could also remove all those subjects (Photoshop is really good at doing content fills) and end up with a clean photo . . .

. . . but then I should be honest with my readers and tell them that I removed the original moon and replaced it with a small version and that I also removed the giraffe, the eagle, the rainbow, the lightning, the jet, Saturn, and the Shuttle.

I mean, I suppose they — looking at the above photo — might be fooled into thinking that’s how the original looked, but I would know.

Anyway, I have a few weeks to see if I want to keep Luminar AI.

Right now, I’m leaning toward “NO” because they also removed the layers options (Luminar 4 has layers so you can stack effects). Skylum says you can do the same thing with masking, but they are talking out of their as . . . er . . . they’re wrong.

I mean, masking works for some things, but if I wanted to, say, take the above photo and add back all those subjects, I’d have to save the file after each addition, then open it as a new file, add the next object, then save it as a new file, then repeat until everything is added back in. In Luminar 4, you can create a new layer and keep going . . . meaning, you don’t end up with eight different files. .

This LINK will take you to the SmugMug gallery that has the full-size versions of the above both in color and in monochrome (and also photos from recent reminder posts).

I’ll close this update with a gallery of the above, including the monochrome versions . . .

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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