How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar

November 22

6 min. to read

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With the advent of Luminar's 2018 Raw Develop filter, editing Raw files is easier than ever. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Developing photos shot in Raw and then converting them to Jpegs is quite easy, especially in software like Luminar. If you’re new to shooting in Raw, though, it might seem a little intimidating, so we’ve created this step-by-step guide to see you through it.

1. Shoot a scene in Raw and import it to your computer

How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar Image1

2. Open it in Luminar and select the Raw Develop filter from the filter menu

How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar Image2

3. Correct any lens distortions

It’s helpful to start with this adjustment first, as non-corrected images can be distracting. Now that Luminar 2018 has included it in the Raw Develop filter, there’s no longer any need to do it in Lightroom.

How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar Image3

4. Level the horizon (if there is one)

This is an often over-looked edit by beginning landscape photographers, yet it’s quite important. When the horizon’s crooked, the viewer’s brain will keep trying to compensate for it, creating a sense of unease. Luckily, it’s an easy fix. Simply select Luminar’s “transform” option and adjust the rotate slider.

How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar Image4This photo was taken with a pretty straight horizon, so not much adjustment was needed.

5. Adjust the white balance

Adjusting the white balance is super easy with the Raw Develop filter—you can use the presets (where it says “custom”), the temperature/tint sliders, or the white balance tool to the left of the presets. With white balance tool, all you need to do is click on a place in your image that is gray or a neutral-looking color (but not white). Ideally, the numbers for RGB should be the same or close. If you don’t like the result, click somewhere else until you find what looks right for you. There’s no international consortium on what the “right” white balance for any image is—choose the one that looks best to you.

How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar Image5

6. Adjust the exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, and clarity

You’ll probably need to do some playing around with the sliders before you find the look you’re going for. In this photo, I chose to tone down the highlights some so that I could boost the exposure without blowing them out. I also wanted to open up (brighten) the shadows some to bring out more detail. When I was finished, I bumped up the clarity just a touch. (A good rule of thumb is to take the slider just past the point where it looks good and then back it off until it hits the sweet spot.)

How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar Image6

7. Add on any filter effects you’d like

Once you’ve finished with the Raw Develop adjustments you can move on to any of the other amazing Luminar filters and/or presets. I usually like to try out the Accent AI editor to see what it will do before moving on to other filters. In this case, I chose the top/bottom lighting filter to brighten up the clouds a bit more. I’ve also chosen this time to crop the photo. (You can do this at any time after using the lens and transform adjustments.) 

How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar Image7

The last two adjustments I made were with the Details Enhancer and the Sharpen Filter.

8. Export to Jpeg

Once you’ve got the look you’re going for, choose “Export” from the file menu. This will allow you to choose your level of export sharpening, the color space, and the file format. Here I’ve chosen a high-quality Jpeg. If the quality doesn’t matter so much to you and you’d like a smaller file, simply adjust the quality slider to the left.

How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar Image8

You might be wondering why even bother with the Raw Develop filter if you can just go straight to the Accent AI filter. The reason being is the better your photo’s starting point, the better the filter’s effect. Making even micro adjustments in the Raw Develop filter module can make a difference in the final outcome. 

How to Develop Raw Photos in Luminar Image9

And there you have it—a simple workflow using Luminar’s Raw Develop filter. 

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