Luminar is one of the most exciting image editors on the market. It’s also one of the fastest changing and quirkiest, so it’s not always easy to keep up with what’s new, what’s changed and where to find the tools and settings you need and why this list of Luminar tips could prove useful, both to new users and those upgrading from a previous version.
Many of the tools in Luminar have hidden depths that are only revealed when you take a closer look, and Luminar 4 has a completely new interface which means some tools have moved from where you’re used to seeing them and have to be found all over again!
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Luminar Library tips
These Luminar tips have been split into sections. These are for the Library, where you’ll spend a lot of your time as you organise and browse your growing photo collection.
The Library is a catalog, but it’s still ‘live’
Unlike the catalogs in Lightroom and Capture One, the Luminar Library is ‘live’. You do have to choose which folders to import, but after that they will update automatically if you add or remove images outside of Luminar. See the Luminar Library cheat sheet.
Double-clicking a thumbnail doesn’t switch to Edit mode
If you double-click an image in the Library you see a full size version – but this is just a preview, and you’re not in the Edit mode. To edit an image you do have to click the Edit pane at the top of the right-hand sidebar.
Two really useful Library Shortcuts
There are two especially useful items in the Shortcuts section at the top of the right-hand sidebar in Library view. Recently Added shows the last pictures you imported, and Recently Edited shows the last ones you worked on. Both are easily lost in a large photo library, so this is really useful.
You can’t search but you can filter
There are no search tools in Luminar 4, but you can filter images in folders (sub-folders are included), albums or even your entire catalog (if you select All Photos) in the Shortcuts panel. The filter options include flags, star ratings, color labels – and whether or not images have been edited.
Reject images you don’t want to see
When you filter a folder, Luminar will remember your settings from last time, which is useful. So if you ‘Reject’ images you don’t want to see any more you can then use the filter to show only ‘Unmarked’ images. The Rejects are hidden until you reset the filter.
Luminar editing tips
These Luminar tips relate to the Edit mode, its workspaces, filters options and general navigation – tools are not always where you expect to find them!
How to apply a filter more than once
You can’t add multiple instances of the same filter in Luminar 4 like you could in previous versions, but the easy workaround is to use additional adjustment layers instead. Each adjustment layer offers the full set of filters and tools.
Apply a Look without overwriting existing adjustments
If you’ve made a lot of careful manual adjustments but now you want to apply a Luminar Look, how do you do that without potentially overwriting some of the editing changes you’ve made? Simple – you just create a new adjustment layer and apply the Look to that.
Having trouble blending in a new sky successfully?
If you’ve added a new sky to a landscape shot and you’re having trouble blending in the new layer without covering up objects on the skyline, try changing the blend mode. Multiply is a good one to try and it works even better if the sky underneath is a blank white or gray.
Where are the levels and curves adjustments in Luminar 4?
Surely Skylum hasn’t left out such a basic and important tool? It hasn’t – you just need to know where to look. You need to open the Light panel in the Essentials workspace, and then click the Advanced Settings button. It’s a bit curious to hide them away like this, though when the Advanced Settings are expanded they will stay that way. See Levels and Curves in Luminar
You can rename layers
If you add more than a couple of layers to an image it’s easy to forget what the individual layers do. The way to get round that is to name them! Just select any layer and use the ‘three-dot’ menu to the right to rename it to something more descriptive like ’Sky darken’ or ‘Dark Moon Look’.
You can mask individual filters
It’s not just layers which can have masks, but individual filters too. If you click on the Edit Mask button at the bottom of each panel, you can apply a linear, radial, brush or luminosity mask. What’s more, when you make a mask, its thumbnail appears alongside the filter panel heading to make it clear a mask has been applied.
What filters do Looks use?
You can apply a Look and then go back and adjust the settings manually. But how do you know what filters a Look has used? Just go through the workspaces in turn – filters with settings applied by the Look will be highlighted with white text (unmodified filters have gray text).
Make the Fog filter more realistic
The Fog filter in the Creative workspace is pretty neat but it applies an all-over fog effect, whereas real fog increases with distance. There’s an easy fix. Click the Edit Mask button and use the linear mask gadget to reduce the fog in the foreground and make it stronger in the distance.
How to show a mask as a visible overlay
It’s all very well being able to add a mask for each individual filter, but sometimes you need to be able to see the mask to edit it more carefully. If a mask tool is active you’ll see a narrow tool strip at the top of the image with the mask options – and one of these is an ‘eye’ button to toggle a red mask overlay on and off.
Apply Looks to adjustment layers
If you want to apply a Luminar Look but you also want to mask off certain areas, create an adjustment layer first and apply the Look to that. You can add a mask to an adjustment layer, but you can’t add one to the base image layer.
Where to find Profiles in Luminar 4
Luminar 3 had profiles for matching camera picture styles, but in Luminar 4 the RAW Develop filter is gone and the profile menu with it. But actually it’s just moved – to the Light filter in the Essentials workspace, under the Advanced Settings button. Phew.
Single image edit
You don’t have to import images to edit them. Luminar 4 offers a Single Edit option where you can open images individually via the ‘+’ button in the top left corner. Luminar does not import the whole folder and add it to the library. Instead, it stores single edits in their own album in the Shortcuts section of the Library panel.
Where your adjustments are stored
You can process and export single image edits as JPEGs or TIFFs but Luminar no longer has its own bespoke file format. All its edits are applied non-destructively and stored as metadata within the library. Don’t lose or delete your library!
Where did the RAW Develop tools go?
The RAW Develop filter has gone in Luminar 4. You now enhance RAW files with the same tools as you use on regular images in the Light panel. RAW files will offer more shadow and highlight recovery and a more white balance control via preset values and absolute values in the Temperature and Tint sliders.
Lens corrections and where to find them
Where are the lens correction options in Luminar 4, and why aren’t lens distortions being corrected? You need to select the Canvas workspace in the toolbar and open the Lens & Geometry section. Lens corrections are not enabled by default – you have to click the checkbox, annoyingly.
Perspective corrections and cropping
Luminar 4 offers perspective corrections, which is great, but there is no ‘Constrain Crop’ like you get in some other programs, so you will get blank wedges around the edges of the frame. You can increase the Scale value to blow the picture up to fill the space or, for more control, swap to the Crop tool.