Each month we check in with Luminar users in our Facebook group to find great images that need a fresh eye and an expert's touch. This month’s image is by Jason Hahn and was enhanced in Luminar by Robert Vanelli.
Jason Hahn—a well known Nature and Landscape Photographer—combined his love for nature with his new passion, portraits. Using off-camera flash, he captured this image of a model in nature. He did a good job at balancing ambient light with flash and made a smart decision to use butterfly lighting—higher catchlights in the eyes and a shadow under the nose and lip—to bring out the model’s beautiful facial features. He likes the original image, but asked what could he have done differently in camera and post-processing using Luminar.
The Image Makeover Process
To enhance the image, I used layers to try different lighting scenarios. This served two purposes. First, it helped me quickly experiment to find the best editing solution and second, it gave me ideas on how I would expose this image different in camera.
Learn to Light with Luminar
Light—including the absence of light—is the cornerstone of photography. You, as the artist, can decide the mood and feel of an image by adjusting the light. One way to perfect this is by finding a willing subject to photograph over and over again. A simpler way is to use Luminar with its’ Filters and Layers features. This was the path I took while editing Jason’s photo. After completing my edit, I came up with a few in-field lighting tips to help Jason and other photographers while shooting in nature.
Developing the Image
I like to begin with the Accent AI filter first to see what the software thinks the image needs before I decide on how to process the image. Once I had the image looking good I then proceeded to relight the image using a combination of filters, presets and layers.
When editing a portrait, especially a female portrait, the first step is usually to enhance the skin by making it smooth. I added a new layer and, to save time, I selected Smooth Portrait from the Portrait Preset Categories. This automatically applied four filters; Develop, Structure, Vignette and Curves. The effect was a little strong so I lowered the the overall filter amount to about 70%. Using the Structure Preset masking brush, I removed the soft effect on the eyes, eyebrows, nostrils and lips. The beauty of a filter brush is it only impacts the filter and not the layer.
Adding the Preset, Smooth PortraitRemoving the effect from specific parts of the image using the masking brush
I liked how the Smooth Portrait preset added a touch of light to the subject’s face, but I wanted to make it stand out a little more. One way of doing this is by darkening the background. I added a new Layer and selected the Curves filter. I selected the center point on the curve and dragged it down until the background became darker. Using the Curve’s Filter Brush, I painted in the effect on the background and dress.
Darkening the background by using the Curves filter with a masking brush
To finish off the lighting effect, I added another layer and applied the Vignette and Top and Bottom Lighting filters. This removed light from these areas and brought focus on the model.
Adding the Vignette and Top and Bottom Lighting filters
By using Luminar’s layers and filters, I was able to quickly edit the image plus recreate how I would have lit the shot on location. The Curves filter showed I would have exposed the background 1 stop darker than the keylight and the Top and Bottom Lighting filter showed how I would have flagged or feathered the light. Realistically, this can’t always be accomplished in the field. Knowing how to accomplish this in post using Luminar gives us photographers more creative choices.
Before and After - Image by © Jason Hahn