Chapter 6: How to Develop a Photo

The process of getting a photo to look natural, or to match your recollection of a scene is developing the image.  During this stage, the goal is to create an image whose tone and color appear natural and accurate. Luminar Flex offers many easy-to-use as well as powerful controls to improve your image.  

How to Develop a Photo

If the host application sends a Raw image, you’ll have access to the Raw Develop Filter to fine tune your photo, otherwise, you can use the Develop Filter to apply some of the basic filters as a starting point.



To apply the RAW Develop filter from Lightroom Classic to Luminar Flex:

  1. Select a file in Lightroom

  2. From the File menu, choose Plug-in Extras, Transfer to Luminar Flex

  3. Your file will open in Luminar Flex. Click the Add Filter... button.

  4. Choose RAW Develop from the Essential category of filters.

  5. You can only have one instance of this effect and it will always apply at the top of the filter stack before other filters.

  6. You can also apply the RAW Develop filter by using some of the built-in workspaces.

To apply the Develop filter from a Host Application to Luminar Flex:

  1. Open a file into Luminar Flex.

  2. Click the Add Filter... button.

  3. Choose Develop from the Essential category of filters.

  4. You can only have one instance of this effect and it will always apply at the top of the filter stack before other filters.


The Adjust tab contains the essential color and tone adjustments that should be made using the Raw file.  This sets the stage for all the adjustments that come after.

  • Profile. Are you looking for truly professional control over your Raw files?  Be sure to give DNG Camera Profiles a try. Luminar Flex recognizes the industry standard DCP files that you may already have on your computer (or have bought from third parties). These offer greater control over how the color and tone in the Raw file is handled. Need a bunch of free DCP profiles? Just install the free DNG Converter from Adobe.

  • White Balance. Use the White Balance preset list to choose from a variety of presets that are similar to a camera’s white balance menu (available if image is a Raw file). The Eyedropper can also be used to click on an area that should be white or neutral gray to calculate a custom white balance.

  • Temperature. Use this slider to warm or cool a shot.  This adjustment essentially adds Cyan or Yellow to an image to change its color temperature.

  • Tint. This adjusts the amount of Green or Magenta that is added to a shot.  It is useful for removing color casts from an image.

  • Exposure. Adjusts the global luminance of the image. Moving this slider to the left results in a darker image (reduction of exposure value). Moving this slider to the right results in a brighter image (an increase of exposure value).

  • Contrast. Adjusts the contrast of the image. Contrast is the difference in luminance or color that makes an object in an image distinguishable from another. Practically speaking, contrast is determined by the difference in the color and brightness of an object in relation to other objects within the same field of view.

  • Highlights. Adjusts the brightness of the brightest areas of the image. Moving the slider to the right cause very bright areas to become brighter, while moving the slider to the left, makes them darker.

  • Shadows. Adjusts the brightness level of the darkest areas of the image. Moving the slider to the right will cause such areas to become brighter and additional details will appear. When moving to the left, such areas become darker, and the number of shadow areas in the image generally increases.

  • Whites. Adjusts the white point of the histogram and white tones in the image. When moving to the right, the brightest tones will become brighter while the histogram stretches to the right. Moving the slider to the left will cause white tones in the image to become darker and the histogram to compress to the left.

  • Blacks. Sets the black point of the histogram or black tones in the image. Moving the slider to the right, black tones become brighter and the histogram compresses to the right. Moving the slider to the left, black becomes darker and the histogram stretches to the left.

  • Clarity. Allows users to increase the contrast in the midtones introducing more depth between the relationships of values that lie in the middle of the histogram.


This set of controls lets you apply lens corrections to a photo.  These are designed to remove flaws in the image caused by the lens or handling.  The Lens Correction command easily fixes all kinds of lens distortion, from barrel and pincushion to chromatic aberration and vignetting.

RAW Develop Filter (Note: You can access the RAW Develop Filter by using Adobe Lightroom as the Host Application and then choosing File>Plug-in Extras>Transfer to Luminar Flex)


Raw Develop Filter

Develop Filter

  • Auto Corrections.  These are three automatic corrections that can fix your image.  They are designed to quickly fix common problems.

    • Lens Distortion. Click this option to remove lens distortion automatically. The filter analyzes your image and its metadata to calculate an automatic fix that you can apply in one-click. Get rid of wide angle distortion and get truer perspective lines and more attractive portraits.

    • Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration is a type of color fringing.  It often happens on telephoto lenses and in areas of high contrast.  It tends to show up as magenta or green edges.

    • Defringe.  This adjustment can remove halos or edge noise (particularly in high-contrast areas).

  • Lens Distortion. Drag to the left to increase the barrel shape of the lens.  Drag to the right to pinch and compensate for wider angle lenses. You may need to crop the layer or use the Scale command in the Transform controls to compensate for gaps at the edges.

  • Devignette. Removes any darkening at the edges of an image caused by the lens itself.   This is a corrective command, not a stylizing command. If you want an artistic vignette, be sure to explore the Vignette filter.


It is also possible to transform the shape of a photo to compensate for perspective issues or problems caused by the camera’s physical position.  With the Transform tool, there are many options available for changing the position, rotation, and scale of a layer. The Transform tab is the third tab in the Raw Develop and the Develop filter.

Adjust any of the following properties as needed to transform the image:

  • Vertical. This tilts the image by rotating on the X-axis.  This tilts the image forwards or backwards and can help compensate for an image with any keystoning problems.  This type of problem causes vertical lines to appear skewed and is often caused by the camera shooting from age by rotating on the Y-axis.  This angles the image from side to side and solves the problems caused by shooting at an angle in relation to the subject.

  • Horizontal. This adjustment tilts the image on the Y-axis.  It can help compensate for perspective issues caused by shooting off-angle from your subject.

  • Rotate. Rotates the entire canvas on the Z-axis and can be useful for straightening a crooked photo.

  • Aspect.  This command changes the aspect ratio of a photo. Dragging the slider will expand the height or the width while contracting the opposite direction for the second value.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

  • Scale. Use the Scale command to effectively crop the transformed photo.  This is a useful way to hide gaps after transforming a photo.

  • X Offset. This shifts the transformed image left or right.

  • Y Offset. This shifts the transformed image up or down.

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Chapter 6: How to Develop a Photo(10)