Photoshop has built-in actions for a variety of functions that not many people that I know of actually use.
Not that I personally use those a lot, but, these built-in actions can save a huge amount of time if you need to do anything similar.
Before we look at the actions, there are a couple of points to keep in mind…
If you invoke Photoshop from Lightroom, you will get all kinds of errors and this is definitely a bug in the Lightroom-Photoshop workflow.
In case you get any errors while running these actions, just reset the settings for Photoshop by pressing CMD+OPT+SHIFT and then clicking on the PS icon to start PS. You will be prompted to reset the settings and just click okay on that.
Now that we are done with the issues, let us take a look at all the goodies we have already built into Photoshop.
To my way of thinking, working with layers implies the ability to precisely mask areas or subjects and apply effects based on the selections or masks.
This is exactly what makes the Luminar 4 layers practically useless. The implementation of the masks/selections is similar to using a paintbrush app vs something like Photoshop.
In Luminar, you only have the fixed brush and gradient tools for the masking. There is no option of something like an edge/tonal detection auto-mask (as in LR) or the perfect brush in ON1 Photo Raw 2020.
This means that you cannot really do clean masking or selection of any subject. Since you cannot make a clean mask, the whole purpose of layers is defeated.
Although there is a luminosity mask in Luminar 4, the same issue makes it practically useless. There is no control over the luminosity mask as in LR (which is not great) or ON1 (which is far better than LR).
While Luminar 4 remains a choice over LR and ON1 for noise reduction and the AI-based image enhancement features, the layers can be ignored almost completely.
The only place you can use layers is when you have shots where you can apply one of the blending modes in Luminar 4 and achieve the effect you want. Other than that, forget layers in Luminar till they have better masking tools.
I have already shared how to create black backgrounds earlier, but, this one is going to be slightly different as we will also discuss a bit about the original exposure and which shots lend themselves well to a white background.
Do not confuse a white background with a high key image. High key images are those that are mostly light and white which is not true for just a white background image.
We will go through the process of making a white background in Lightroom, Photoshop (with and without Topaz Mask AI) as well as ON1 Photo Raw.
Yes, I have recently installed the trial version of Topaz Mask AI and so far, not very impressed as far as wildlife is concerned. Still learning more about it and experimenting…
This would also give us a reasonable comparison as to what one can do with each.
So…This is an image from my rooftop shooting today and this is what we will use in this session. Let’s start with this in Lightroom and then we will look at the same in Photoshop and finally in ON1.
First, the shot itself. As you can see from the base EXIF, this is overexposed specifically for a white background. I have avoided the wall behind the bird and it’s mostly the floor of the roof in the background. The angle of the shot is just over the bird to do this.
Similarly, when you have grey and/or overcast conditions, you can always look to overexpose a bit to create similar effects. Even low light conditions are good for this as long as the subject is close enough. In this case, the bird is just 6 meters away.
Now that we already have a dull background, let’s see how we can make this image pop a bit…
First, we apply my wildlife preset to this and tweak it a bit for a white background. Then, as with the black background, we use the adjustment brush and mask the background around the bird and then pull up all these sliders to make it white.
Do keep in mind that we can only do black or white in Lightroom, anything beyond that, you would have to look at some other application.
Okay, now, let’s remove the mask and try the same in Photoshop. First the select subject. Now, let’s try the Topaz Mask AI
Finally, let’s do the same in ON1 Photo Raw…We will use the local adjustments here with the perfect brush which is the equivalent of the auto-mask in Lightroom.
This is just a followup after the previous video where Luminar could not detect the sky when it was very obvious in the image. Even the “trick” I tried did not work within Luminar.
This is just one of the bugs and nuances of Luminar 4. If I export the same file as a raster (JPG, TIF etc) it works, but, you cannot process the image as you would a raw file.
Interestingly, if you export from Lightroom as a DNG raw file, even though the image looks exactly the same as the one Luminar 4 could not replace the sky on, it does so on the DNG file. There are, perhaps, issues that go deeper than just this…
If you ignore the DAM (Digital Asset Management) part, it is probably the simplest to use to create dramatic enhancements in just a few clicks. Of course, it is not without the bugs and nuances that most such applications would almost always have, but, it is quite stable and works as advertised.
It has automatic, AI-based, enhancements which are not matched by any other such application currently. The support for layers is far better implemented than ON1 Photo Raw which insists on creating a new file for layers.
Birders would love this for BIFs and more…
Luminar 4 can really make dramatic changes and make images really pop without any high-end editing skills. I would recommend this for all class of users. I use this along with Lightroom. LR manages my image collection and Luminar gives me dramatic images in a snap like no other application can.
Let’s dive in and see what Luminar 4 can do…
These are all my shots from the rooftop during the lockdown. Let’s see how we can transform some of these…
Overall, birders would love Luminar and beginners would have a ball 🙂
Would I use Luminar? Absolutely yes for some of the features that really help in making better images in a hurry.
One of the commonly asked questions is what should I use to clean the lenses. Most people are fine with cleaning the camera with some kind of cloth, but, are wary when it comes to lenses.
Yes, we do have the lenspen and a variety of kits around and most of those work fine. Over a time period, I have found a better solution to cleaning my gear…Camera body and lenses.
I use plain isopropyl alcohol swabs, the kind we use in the medical field for cleaning up before and after injections. For larger work, like the camera body and the outer part of the lenses, I use Zeiss lens wipes which are larger in size and have more “juice” on the wipe.
To wipe off the lens element, I use a lint-free glass polishing micro-fibre cloth rather than any simple micro-fibre cloth. Ideally, the cloth you use which not look like a towel and should be smooth. Very similar to the kind you get when you buy spectacles.
For the camera and lens body, almost any absorbent, fine micro-fibre will do. Just dab around with the cloth and try not to wipe the gear using pressure on the cloth.
Let’s see how we can clean up our camera and lens…
Make sure you have the camera mount and lens rear cap ready
Remove the lens from the camera and put the caps on the lens and the camera mount
Let’s start with the body and use a Zeiss wipe since one wipe can do the entire camera body
We use the same wipe for the lens body or another if needed
Now, let’s clean the camera mount contact using a swab. The swabs are generally almost dry. Remove the cap from the camera body. Make sure the camera is pointing down (we don’t want any dust to float in) and wipe the contact area with the swab and put the cap back on
The lens elements now…Front and back. Like the in earlier video for sensor cleaning, I would not advise you to use the swab on the lenses unless you can see some spots or fingerprints. A simple jet of air and, if needed, just gently wipe the elements in a circular motion using the polishing cloth. If required, then, use one swab to gently wipe the front and/or back elements, wait for a few seconds and then wipe the elements with the polishing cloth.
Now, remove the cap from the camera mount. Use the blower to blow out any dust from the inside of the camera while keeping in down. Blow out the rear element of the lens and put the lens back on the camera.
Ideally, don’t even wipe the lens without using a blower on it first. There might be particles on the surface of the glass that might scratch the element while being wiped across. The same applies to the viewfinder and LCD glass.
Since we are using alcohol, it will evaporate almost instantly in the case of the swabs and in a few seconds when using the Zeiss wipes. Remember not to use excessive pressure on the swabs or wipes when using then. Since we already have alcohol on them, additional pressure will not do anything.
When I am outdoors, I prefer using the blower with either the lenspen or the polishing cloth to clean up any fingerprints or dirt that might have fallen on the front element.
Since I did not clean the contact areas, that is all that I will actually clean here…The rest is “understood” types 🙂