Find out which image was selected for our Raw Develop Makeover in Luminar.

The Challenge

After Image Makeover © Aaron Smith

Followers of our Skylum Photography Facebook Group were asked to post a photo for an “Image Makeover” to showcase the transformational power of Luminar 2018's RAW Develop filter.  There were some amazing submissions but this winter landscape caught my eye.

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos!

The Image

This beautiful photo of Lake Tahoe was captured by Aaron Smith. It is thoughtfully composed and leads my eyes through the scene.

Before Image Makeover © Aaron Smith

The Image Makeover Process

With the help of Luminar 2018’s Raw Processing tools we'll naturally enhance the detail and color of this photograph to create an image with tremendous visual impact.

Raw Conversion in Luminar 2018

We’ll begin by adding the RAW Develop filter to the base layer.

Click on the Add Filters button in the right-hand column and choose RAW Develop. Inside the RAW Develop filter there are three tabs: Adjust, Lens, and Transform which address different aspects of a RAW Image file.

  • The Adjust tab has several settings to adjust tone and correct color.
  • The Lens tab's tools correct lens-related issues such as distortion, vignetting, and chromatic aberrations.
  • The Transform tab contains tools to correct for the positioning of the camera when the photo was captured.

Straighten the Horizon

Our first step in the RAW Develop filter will be to straighten the horizon. Select the Transform tab in the RAW Develop Filter and move the Rotate slider to the right to align the horizon.

Rotating an image will leave blank spaces on the edges so we will use the scale slider to increase the size of the image to fill in the gaps. We’ll also move the photo using the X-Offset slider slightly to the left to make sure the tree on the left is not cropped out of the photo.

Remove Chromatic Aberrations

Next, we’ll choose the Lens tab in the RAW Develop filter to correct chromatic aberrations. Not every photo shows chromatic aberration, but it will often pop-up in areas of high contrast.  To check, I zoomed into 300%. Now we can see that there is a pink and green fringe around the trees which we can easily correct by moving the Red/Cyan slider to the right until the fringing disappears.

Correct Lens Vignetting

Many lenses create a bit of darkness around the edges of a photo but it is easy to correct with the Devignette tool. We’ll move the Devignette Amount slider to the right until the brightness of the corners matches the rest of the photograph.

Add Contrast and Detail

In the Adjust tab, we’ll begin to bring this photo to life by adding contrast and detail.

  • Brighten the photo slightly with the Exposure slider
  • Increase the overall contrast
  • Darken the highlights
  • Open up the shadows
  • Increase the purity of the whites
  • Deepen the blacks
  • Add a bit of structure and mid-tone contrast with the clarity slider

Add Stylistic Enhancements Using an Adjustment Layer

Once we have our Raw photo processed the next step is to create a new layer for our stylistic enhancements.

Click on the plus symbol (+) next to the Layers drop-down menu and select Add New Adjustment Layer.

Now that we have an adjustment layer in place we can get creative with additional filters

Accent-AI FIlter

The Accent-AI Filter is a great place to start with creative enhancements. It intelligently adds a pop of color and contrast with a single slider.

Enhance the Sky and Reflections

The Polarizing Filter in Luminar 2018 does a great job of intensifying blue skies, giving definition to clouds, and in the case of this photo also enhancing the reflections of the sky on the lake.

Add a Warm Glow to the Rocks and Shadow Areas

Next, we’ll add a subtle late afternoon feel to the rocks and darker areas of the photo using the Brilliance/Warmth Filter and a Luminosity Mask.

We’ll move the Warmth slider to the right until the foreground rocks and trees have a slight gold color cast such as would be expected in the late afternoon. While the affect to the rocks and trees is pleasing, the yellowing of the clouds and snow is not.

A Luminosity Mask will allow us to apply the effect only to the darker areas of the photo, thus preserving the whites in the sky and the snow in the foreground.

Click on the brush icon on the Brilliance/Warmth Filter and select Luminosity.

The default mask will initially apply the effect to the highlight areas which is the opposite of what we want. We will invert the mask so the effect is applied to the shadow areas instead.

Right-Click (Ctrl-Click) on the Mask (the tiny black and white rectangle on the Brilliance/Warmth Filter) and click Invert.

The resulting inverted Luminosity Mask applies the late afternoon glow only the rocks and trees without affecting the lighter areas of the photo.

Lead Your Viewer to the Scene

Unlike lens vignetting (which is seen as a lens defect and removed early in our processing), a purposefully placed vignette can aide in composition, drawing your viewer’s eyes into the scene. We’ll use the Vignette tool moving the Amount slider to the left. The goal is to darken the edges without making it obvious.


No matter how good your camera and lens are, if the photograph was shot in Raw it will need sharpening. We’ll activate the Sharpening Filter and then use the zoom tool to look at the details at 100%. We’ll move the Amount slider to the right until a slight halo appears around the fine details and then back it off to the point at which the halo disappears.

The Result

The Conclusion

Raw files hold a tremendous amount of information. They might look dull and flat straight out the camera, but they provide the utmost flexibility for post-processing. With tools such as Luminar 2018’s RAW Develop filter, you can unlock the potential of a photograph and let your creativity soar!