Not that many years ago the only way to enhance photos on your Mac was through half a dozen one-trick pony apps that added different filters or effects to a photo. Or, the expense and learning curve of Photoshop.
Those days are gone. Thanks to the proliferation of photos from iPhone the Photos app, we have thousands more photos and an even better way to turn them into true visual masterpieces. Without the expense and complexity of Photoshop. This is how you do great photos on a Mac.
A few years ago, a Mac app developer named Macphun, now Skylum, introduce a few Mac photo enhancing applications. Mac users liked the one-click method of photo enhancement and the developer launched more apps. I have the entire collection of Creative Kit apps but my favorite is a new one called Luminar.
If Photos’ anemic options to enhance a photo isn’t enough, this is the one to try. For about what you would spend on Photoshop’s forever subscription price tag in a few months, Luminar delivers similar photographic enhancement with simple point, click, slide. This is the essence of Luminar’s straightforward non-learning curve user interface.
What you get is the time honored photo editor layout– toolbar across the top, sidebar toolbar with individual controls for preset options. Luminar comes packed with filters and options that can put your photos into a league with Photoshop but without the effort and learning curve.
Filters are easily selected, adjusted, and transformed with point, click, and slider tools for granular controls. Got RAW photos? No problemo. Just need simple presets? Check. Like to collect and use various color and light profiles? Covered.
It doesn’t really matter what the photo is or what file format you prefer. RAW can be edited as easily as JPG photos. Presents and overlays abound, including almost 120 custom sky overlays to improve that mundane photo you took of a countryside.
Personally, I go for the presets because that gets my photo output into uncharted quality territory for me. Luminar has one-click options for color enhancement, that film look from yesteryear, import Adobe Lightroom presets into Lookup Tables for crazy good enhancements. Dozens of filters are built in and they’re non-destructive. While point and click is your friend, trial and error is where you learn.
The filters analyze your photo and makes automatic corrections as needed, yet you retain control over nearly every aspect of each enhancement tool.
All the layers have blend modes. Masking tools let you blend layers or make adjustments seamlessly. Got iPhone? Then you know about the lens problems. Luminar gives you options to make manual corrections for distortion or chromatic aberrations.
The results speak for themselves and the try-before-you-buy option is a must. Caveats? The aforementioned patience with trial and error. If you stick to presets, you’ll get better photos than you’ve likely ever had before– especially if you are stuck in Photos, can’t afford Photoshop or the learning curve, and are disappointed Apple discontinued Aperture.
Luminar does more, but beyond the presets there is a brave new world of point, click, and slider bar options. Almost everything you can apply to a photo is non-destructive so you can back out without damage whenever a filter or preset doesn’t suit your fancy. There is much to like here
The screenshot above is there to show you something about Luminar I didn’t expect. Yes, I want and need presets. That gives you improved photos with minimal effort. Yes, more granular controls are available on every sidebar and those take some trial and error effort to master. The screenshot displays palettes of tools which start to make exploring all the options in Lumina more fun. Control is there if you want it and need it. Otherwise, point and click (and some trial and error) is your friend.
I found it fun to explore all the options in Luminar. That takes time but the results are worthy of the effort. Nicely done. We’re fans of Skylum at Mac360 and I have other favorites, including Noiseless, Intensify, Tonality, and the whole shebang of Creative Kit.
Not much, other than the need for trial and error time. Presets make everything point and click easy, but to get into a Photoshop or Lightroom enhancement level requires a little more effort, and knowledge of the granular controls– that takes time.