Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3

July 15

8 min. to read

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Who hasn’t been amazed at least once by the starry night sky? How can you capture its mystery in a photo? Mathew Browne, a photographer from Wales specializing in travel and cityscape photography and one of our Skylum Brand Ambassadors, reveals his Luminar astrophotography editing tips.

Captured on a starry night on the Pembrokeshire coast, this image combines the rugged scenery with the Milky Way and a small meteor to the top right of the frame. Though it is in focus and composed pleasingly, there’s still some work to do. There’s quite a strong colour cast to the image, a very dark foreground with a lot of lost detail, and the Milky Way is very faint.

With a little time and Luminar, we can take process this shot into a portfolio quality image with punchier colours and properly show off the astronomical detail in the sky.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image1

Step 1 – Foreground

Start with some AI Accent magic

My first step in most image edits is to use Luminar’s amazing AI Accent filter, a content-aware filter which analyses the image and automatically enhances it. Instantly, highlights are calmed down, details are brought out of the darkness, and colour tones are instantly improved.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image2

If the colour tone is still not quite right, a subtle adjustment with Luminar’s Color Temperature filter will do the trick.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image3

A subtle adjustment of the Foliage Enhancer will gently increase the luminosity and saturation of green tones in your image, instantly making the grass and moss become more visible.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image4

Remove Color Cast

There’s still quite a strong purple tone to the foreground – if you examine the foliage you’ll notice that green grass and moss is just a little off-colour. Here, I use the Remove Color Cast filter to adjust this automatically. In doing so, we lose some brightness, but we can continue working on this. 

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image5

Correct the horizon colours

Some lights can be seen on the horizon as we look east, which creates some interesting illumination but introduces some unwelcome colours to the frame. I use the Split Color Warmth filter to add just a touch of colour to this – brilliant white colours now appear golden, and some pink is added to the horizon’s glow.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image6

Correcting the exposure manually

Our foreground is still quite dark, so I combine several filters to improve this. Turning up the brightness and slightly lowering the contrast in the Brightness / Contrast filter adjusts the whole image. Next, the Top & Bottom Lighting filter which does exactly as you’d expect – I add some lighting to the bottom of the image. Finally, boosting the whites and slightly darkening the blacks in Whites / Blacks to manually adjust the contrast.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image7Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image8

Sharpening

Finally, a touch of sharpening, to add some definition between edges.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image9

Foreground editing complete. Let’s review where we are so far.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image10
Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image11

Step 2 – Sky

Masking

Create a new Adjustment Layer, then add a new Gradient Mask. This allows you to select which area of the image is affected by the filters on this adjustment layer. You’ll notice there is a band of glow near the horizon. Creating a gentle vertical gradient across this, ending at the horizon line, ensures all the brightest stars are affected. If you find your mask is adding too much, or not doing enough, you can always edit this mask later.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image12

Accent AI

As before, a touch of Accent AI filter which will analyse and improve the sky detail, plus any manual colour correction using the Color Temperature filter. In this case, I chose to reintroduce just a touch of magenta as there are some subtle green tones in the darker areas of sky.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image13

Turn up the lights

The Microstructure and Dramatic filters are superb choices to ramp up the night sky detail.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image14

Correcting the tone and colours manually

Turning up the warms and bringing down the cools using the Split Color Warmth filter gives us rich purple and blue tones in the sky. Next, I manually adjust the overall contrast and tone using the Highlights / Shadows and Whites / Blacks filters – my goal here to create more separation between the highlights of the stars and the darks of the surrounding sky.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image15

Make the stars glow

To instantly add a magical glow and exposure to the stars, use the Soft Focus filter.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image16

Subtly improve the colours

Just a touch of added Color Contrast to improve the colour tones in the sky.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image17

Highlight the Milky Way

The High Key and Clarity filters are used together to improve the visibility of the Milky Way.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image18

Add contrast

Luminar’s excellent Advanced Contrast filter allows you to control the contrast in great detail. Here are the settings I’ve used to give the sky a bit more punch.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image19

Calm down the blues

At this point, I find that the blues in the sky are a touch oversaturated. Therefore I’ve used the HSL filter to desaturate the blues slightly. Just a light touch is needed here..

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image20

Brush in the details

As a finishing touch, use the Dodge & Burn filter to brush some detail into the Milky Way. If the effect is too strong, simply reduce the amount slider. I like to brush the detail in using maximum strength so I can easily see the areas I’m affecting, then move the slider back down so the effect is more subtle.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image21

All done!

Below, you can see the final result. With a series of adjustments using Luminar’s powerful filters, it’s possible to create a striking astrophotography look in a matter of moments.

Landscape Astrophotography Editing Tips with Luminar 3 Image22

Follow Mathew Browne on social media: Instagram, Facebook, 500px, Flickr, Twitter.

Written by

Mathew Browne

Professional photographer from Wales specializing in travel photography, cityscapes, and architecture.

Mathew Browne is a photographer from Wales specializing in travel photography, cityscapes, and architecture. Over the last decade, he has visited over 60 countries and territories in search of beautiful photo locations. He is also the head of product development for the photo location sharing platform, PhotoHound. Since turning professional, Mathew’s work has won several awards, featured in magazines, and he has worked with tourist boards to create striking, bold imagery.

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