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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.

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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.

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For this composite, my goal was to produce a version of my galloping wild horses image that looks like it’s been drawn and woodburned onto an old board. Not sure why, I just thought it would look cool, the inspiration behind many my composites. Having an idea of what you want to make before you start usually produces the best results. But, don’t be so in love with your idea you can’t change as you create your composite.

At this point, I have my horse picture processed and saved as a high resolution TIF file, and have found a nice wood texture I want to use as the background texture. Ideally you want these texture files to be high-resolution also, so that you can print your finished piece later. Using a 400 pixel wide texture will result in a blurry grainy mess, it’s too small to print it big later.

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In the digital darkroom, we can take two paths with our images. The first is to use your photo processing software to get your image looking as close to what you saw when you took it. This is your standard digital darkroom workflow, adjusting your exposure, getting rid of spots, cropping, etc., with more of a focus on realism.

The second path is to take that photo and transform it into something completely different. It may be combined with other photos as a composite, have various effects applied, and generally will look completely different from what you started with, but in a good way! Here the focus is on creating something new, using your original image only as the first ingredient. This is compositing, combining multiple images and effects to produce an original piece of art. In this article I’ll take you down the second path, introducing how to use Skylum’s new Luminar 2018 to start doing your own composites.  

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