Curves layers are one of the most misunderstood, yet more powerful adjustments you can make. Our images are all made up of pixels, which each have values for color and luminosity. With Curves adjustments, we can remap the pixels’ values for these, changing them to be brighter or darker, or changing their color. In Skylum Software’s Luminar you can add multiple curves filters, and make each layer target very specific parts of your image. This will give your images more depth, dimension, and beautiful color.
Digging into Skylum’s newest version of Luminar, the first question I had to answer is, “what can it do that will save me time, make my images look better, and not take forever to learn?” Once you open the program up, you find a tremendous amount options for processing. But, it is an easy to learn program that I have found can help you make quick adjustments to get great results. These tips and techniques will help you sift through the options and features, so you can develop (pun intended) your own workflow, not just for your landscapes, but any type of photography.
Funny thing about animals is they move around, a lot. So a technique like HDR, which requires several images that are nearly identical in everything but exposure values, is usually not an option for wildlife photographers. Often thought of as mainly a tool for landscape and architecture photography, High Dynamic Range photography captures a series of shots at multiple exposures to provide detail in both highlights and shadows a camera cannot capture in one frame. But, in the case of a running horse or flying bird, even at high shutter speeds and frame rates there will be large differences in their position from frame to frame. This makes multiple exposure HDR pretty impractical, if not nearly impossible, for wildlife and other action photography.
While the multi-shot HDR technique may not work well for high-speed creatures, software like Aurora HDR is a useful tool to put the finishing touches on your wildlife photos. Instead of capturing a series of shots at multiple exposures as you would for landscapes, you use a single shot in a process called “tone mapping”. This is a fast and easy way I use Aurora HDR to Tone Map a single image and add some extra pop and punch to wild animal images.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing of your photos by its nature can result in a lot of noise or graininess in your final image. While Macphun’s new Aurora HDR 2018 for PC’s does a great job overall reducing noise, there are still times when noisy areas appear in your processed HDR. This can be caused by many reasons, but most commonly it’s due to your settings in camera (such as shooting at too high of an ISO) or any image processing you have done to your images before merging them in Aurora (such as exposure adjustments). Regardless of the cause, you can remove most of this noise by using a “Luminosity Layer”. This technique saves a lot of time, giving you consistently good-looking results, quickly.