Throwback Today — 003

As mentioned, these posts are a chance for me to get my D100 and D200 out, make sure the batteries are charged and there’s a fresh CF memory card waiting to receive photos, and go out and shoot with them old workhorses.

Instead, once again, I decided to continue with the photos salvaged from the D200’s memory card. Specifically, photos from our 2013 visit to Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone 2013 — Raw image processed in DxO PureRaw

That’s pretty much the photo as it came out of the camera, and before I post-processed it. It’s worth reminding readers that I set my cameras to neutral settings (no brightness, contrast, noise reduction, sharpening, etc). Hence, out of the camera, the photos look kind of blah (as evidenced above).

However, I have a number of processors at my disposal, so let me try a few . . .

Yellowstone 2013 — Lightroom CC post-processing

It’s also worth mentioning the late Summer colors are generally muted as things are girding for the Winter, and, with a light cloud cover robbing us of sunlight, there’s not much drama in these photos.

Let me try Color Efex Pro 4 . . .

Yellowstone 2013 — DxO Color Efex Pro 4 post-processing

I don’t generally push the adjustments too much, but I try to ‘drama up’ the image to give it more of a visual impact. With these colors, I’m limited as to what I can do (by my lack of talent and patience).

However, there’s one program that often comes through and surprises me, especially because I rarely can match it as far as results. The program is Luminar AI.

Yellowstone 2013 — Luminar AI post-processing

See, I should be able to do that manually . . . but I can’t. Or, rather, I give up after a while of not being able to match it.

It should be said that post-processing — and all that it entails — is a matter of personal preference. I like what Luminar AI did, but maybe someone else prefers the Lightroom CC version. But, for me, the colors and white balance of the Luminar AI photos are closer to what I remember the actual scene looking like . . . but I could be remembering wrong. Let’s just say I like this version more than the others.

Side Note: I’m writing this on the third day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine . . . relevant because Skylum, the company that makes Luminar AI, is based in Ukraine. I hate to think about what they are going through, or even if they will survive. Were it within my power to wipe the world of despots, tyrants, and so-called strongmen, I would make it so without a second thought.

Luminar AI not only does a decent job of enhancing the photo, but it can also raise it to another level.

Yellowstone 2013 — Luminar AI Sky replacement

. . . and I can bring it back down again . . .

Yellowstone 2013 — on1 2010 disperser processing

But, that was just one photo of many . . . here’s another example that follows the same workflow . . .

Yellowstone 2013 — Raw image processed with DxO PureRaw

Another quick aside . . . I run almost everything through DxO PureRaw before doing any post-processing. The program does a good job of sharpening, cleaning noise, and overall balancing the photo . . . however, it typically ‘darken’ the photo, hence why I make further adjustments.

As before, the first photo is my editing in Lightroom CC, and the second photo is run through Luminar AI . . .

Yellowstone 2013 — Lightroom CC post-processing
Yellowstone 2013 — Luminar AI post-processing

A little bit of fringing on the Luminar AI photo, but only because I was looking at other areas of the photo and I failed to notice it and fix it before exporting the photo.

To be clear, when tweaking the photo in Lightroom, I play with various settings and go back-and-forth between a number of them before saying “screw it; I’m going with this”. When I do that, I’m happy with the results . . . until I look at what Luminar AI does.

My current photo processing workflow follows this path:

  1. run the RAW file through DxO PureRaw (it’s a batch process, so I don’t have to attend it)
  2. run the resulting files through Luminar AI (generally, I’ll choose one of the templates and maybe make a few minor modifications on a representative file, but then I run it as a batch process for all the photos)
  3. bring the photos into lightroom and occasionally make additional (small) tweaks if needed (usually, a preference thing on my part).
  4. run the photos through Color Efex Pro 4 to add the dark line border.
  5. select a few photos for artsification using the non-patented Disperser use of Topaz programs.
  6. output a full-size version for SmugMug and a 1280 pxls maximum size version for the blog.
  7. delete all the working files
  8. replenish the snacks I ate during steps 1-through-7

Here’s a file I didn’t do much with, offered in a gallery and in the same order; original, Lightroom edit, Luminar AI edit.

Another example of my trying out landscape compositions . . .

Yellowstone 2013 — Raw image after DxO PureRaw processing

I don’t know if this is a ‘proper’ landscape composition, but, basically, I tried a strong foreground object, a middle object, and a far vista, and tried getting them all in focus. Here’s my editing effort.

Yellowstone 2013 — Lightroom CC post-processing

I should have adjusted the perspective, but since I was just screwing around, I didn’t remember until now . . . and here’s the Luminar AI version . . .

Yellowstone 2013 — Luminar AI post-processing

To be fair (to me), Luminar AI also bumps up the details, be it through sharpening, contrast, or other methods, and they have fine, medium, and large detail settings for sharpening. Lightroom only has an overall setting which often I don’t bother using.

And, yes, this is another candidate for sky replacement . . .

Yellowstone 2013 — Luminar AI post-processing with Sky Replacement

Again, it’s a matter of preference, but one has to admire the masking and cutting precision of the automated sky replacement process; it ‘knows’ the location of the horizon, and can blend even fine details with more accuracy than I can do manually (I’m no masking wizard).

Here are two additional photos and their edits presented in individual galleries for brevity (although that ship might have sailed). Again, the sequence in each gallery is Original, Lightroom processed, Luminar AI processed, and, if available, sky replacement.

Actually, in that last gallery, the Lightroom and Luminar AI edits were close enough that I don’t know which one is which.

. . . but I can tell you this last photo is a Luminar AI version . . .

Yellowstone 2013 — Luminar AI Sky Replacement

. . . you know what’s coming next, right?

As usual, I think WordPress degrades the photos . . . you can still click on them to see the larger size I uploaded, but if you want to see the photo in more detail, THIS SmugMug gallery has the above photos. Note: the gallery might load slowly (large photos because I forgot to up the compression).

Here’s a WP gallery of the above:

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


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