Luminar AI Review

For Simple Yet Creative Photo Editing

Looking for a Better Way

I have been running photography Post Processing workshops for over 6 years now and a reoccurring theme I hear in each session is that photographers, specifically beginner and intermediate photographers didn’t realise how comprehensive and time consuming post processing could be. Most photographers really want to be focused on shooting images and not be bogged down with the complexity of post processing or developing a detailed understanding of their PC in order to create quality images. But they also understand that in order to get the best quality from their images, they would need to shoot in the RAW format, which requires a level of post processing for every image.

During the Christmas Holiday I set out to find if there was a way I could simplify the post processing workflow for photographers that didn’t want to spend hours at the PC after each photo shoot. What I discovered was that Skylum, a company that won the EISA 2019/2020 “Best Products of the Year” for the Photo Software category was in the process of launching a new photo editing software called Luminar AI. Luminar AI was not simply and upgrade or enhancement to their existing Luminar 4 editing software, but was a completely new product designed with Artificial Intelligence at its core which claimed to make photo editing simpler, more cost effective and easier to learn.

I signed up to a program offered by Skylum to pre-order Luminar AI that would allow me to explore the software prior to its commercial release. The software pre-release occurred in early January 2021 and I was instantly impressed with the ease and quality of the image edits I was able to produce.

Luminar AI Workflow

The photo editing workflow laid out in Luminar AI is very straightforward; Catalog, Template, Edit & Export. It all begins in the catalog where you can import and manage the images to be used in Luminar AI. I instantly began comparing it to Lightroom, which I have been running workshops for over 6 years now, and found myself stating…’oh it cant do this and it cant do that”. I then reminded myself that the goal of this program was to simplify everything to do with photo post processing and determined that the catalog was more than adequate for what we are trying to achieve…..a simplified yet creative post processing workflow.

The moment that you actually select a photo to be edited, the Artificial Intelligence kicks in. The software identifies the subject matter of the image and presents a range of suggested Templates that can be applied to your image. It’s important to understand that these templates are not simply a set of adjustments saved in a preset, the AI engine specifically tunes the adjustments of the template to suit your image. The program comes with a range of templates embedded and of course there is a marketplace where you can purchase additional templates developed by other photographers. As you make additional edits to a template or create your own specific edits, they can be saved as templates for you to develop and apply your own photographic style to.


In many cases, applying a template to your image will be all the editing your image requires – a single click to select a template. However, if you wish to apply additional or more creative editing to your image, you move to the next step in the Luminar AI workflow, the Edit module. The Edit module consists of 4 panels; Essential, Creative, Portrait and Professional.

The Essential Panel is where you will find the sliders to apply basic photographic edits such as exposure, color, details and noise to name a few. In addition, the essentials panel also includes a few of the Artificial Intelligence tools to assist with the editing. The first AI tool in the Essential panel is called the Enhance AI which includes two adjustments; Accent AI which is like an Auto tool, making over a dozen adjustments to your image with beautiful results. The second slider is the Sky Enhancer which detects, analyses and adjusts the sky in your image. The Composition AI tool automatically adjusts a photos composition, crop and perspective – but you are also able to make changes manually. The final AI tool in the Essentials panel is the Structure AI tool which allows you to adjust the detail and clarity of the image. As with the other AI tools, it is content aware and only makes the structure adjustments to areas of the image that require it. It is also able to detect people in the image and prevent over processing them.

Another editing tool that is available in the Essentials panel that is worth mentioning is the Erase tool. The Erase tool is far better than the Cloning and Healing tool in Lightroom. It uses Content Aware technology that matches the texture, lighting and shading in the area you want to correct, so it is able to blend the corrected pixels seamlessly. It is really easy to use and a quick way to get rid of unwanted elements in your image.

I think one of the most challenging aspects of post processing to teach is to get people to visualise the outcome they wish to achieve with their image which then determines the adjustments that need to be made. Having a photo editing software with Artificial Intelligence assists with this process.

Getting Creative

Once you complete the basic photo editing adjustments in the Essentials panel, you can move to the Creative panel which provides you with a range of adjustments that allows you to stylise your photos and even perform some basic compositing actions such as replacing the sky in an image, adding creative elements to your image such as lightings or rainbows and changing the atmosphere of the image by adding haze or fog. There are sliders to add sun rays to your image, change the overall mood and colour tones of the image as well as adding a mystical feel or glow to the photo. There are plenty of opportunities to unleash your creative side in this panel.  .



You will most likely find the adjustments available in the Portrait panel to be just as exciting as what’s available in the Creative panel. The AI works to automatically find and select the faces in your image and allows you to make quick and simple edits to the lighting of the face, brighten or change the colour of the eyes, make adjustments to the subjects lips and quickly remove skin blemishes with a click of the mouse. There are also adjustments available that can be made to adjust the shape of your subjects body. All the edits are designed to make portrait editing quick and easy.

The final panel on offer in the Edit Module is the Professional panel. Here you will find adjustments tools that can correct any optical distortions introduced by your lens. There are also specific tools for Dodging and Burning, changing the Color Harmony of the image and Super Contrast. There is also an additional Clone and Stamp tool just in case the Erase tool didn’t quite get rid of all the unwanted elements in the image.

All in all, Luminar AI provides all the post processing tools required by photographers to complete all basic photographic edits as well as a range of tools to unleash your creativity. It’s perfect if you wish to use it as your only, stand alone photo editing software and also ideal for photographers that are already using Lightroom but wish to use some of the creative editing tools on some of their images. Luminar AI works great as a Lightroom Plugin. Luminar AI is also great for casual photographers that dont want to subscribe to editing software on a monthly basis but simply want to pay a single purchase cost and own the software.


The Complete Pixel is now an official Luminar AI Affiliate which means we can now provide you with regular updates on Luminar AI, News and Information and special gifts when you purchase through our links. You can download Luminar AI as a FREE 7-Day trial by clicking on the link or you can purchase Luminar AI now for $108 and get a special Enchanting Twighlight Skies pack for FREE – simply click this link. 



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Brian Bird
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