Flowers, hipstamatic, Instagram, iPhone, Lens Artists Photo Challenge, Luminar, Nature, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Cropping and Layers

The file I was working with this morning illustrates how edits can really change a photo, and one of the most powerful tools is the cropping tool:

ISO 25 f/2.2 1/377sec 4.2mm

This first edit was created in the app Hipstamatic using the randomize feature which means that the filters were chosen for me. The second edit was also created in Hipstamatic, but I chose the various filters and it was the version that I added to my Instagram feed:

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Busy. #bee #flowers #thingsiseeonmywalks

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

I go back and forth between these two and I think there are elements to both that I like but that neither is exactly right. This morning’s edit which I created using the original file in Luminar 3 is this one:

ISO 25 f/2.2 1/377sec 4.2mm

This edit keeps the original ratio of the photograph and is more top-heavy than the square version. When I was working on this edit, the crop was the second edit in my workflow. I started with basic edits like luminosity and adjusting the blacks and whites. Then on a separate layer, I did the crop. Then on an additional layer, I added then tweaked a custom Luminar look that I have saved as a preset. It turned out that when I got to that point, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the crop. Because the crop was on its own layer, it was easy to click on and edit just that layer.

So, there are two important points here I think, first is that the crop set to different ratios can really change the photo’s story and second that putting the crop on its own layer can make your editing process much easier.

Your thoughts on cropping in general or in this specific case are welcome below. This post was inspired by the Lens Artist Challenge, One Single Flower.


Birds, iPhone, Luminar, Photo a week Challenge, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

At the Water’s Edge

The images for this post were taken while I was out on my morning run. Run is a term I use loosely as I am not very fast and am known to stop if I see something that catches my eye. The image I stopped for at this point was one of the swans. I did take several photos of the swans, but standing there I felt the more interesting story was this man who had stopped to spend some time with them:

ISO 25 f/2.2 1/392sec 4.2mm

I took the photo and then moved on. Obviously, social distancing meant I wasn’t going to get too close to him but the real reason is that he seemed deep in his own moment and I didn’t want to disturb that.

This second image is a heron who was so still that I almost ran right up to him:

ISO 25 f/2.2 1/100sec 4.2mm

I couldn’t believe how close I got. I took several photos, slunk past him, then took several more including this one above.

Because I took these photos on the same morning run, just a few minutes apart, I decided to edit them in a similar way. Both have been cropped, and then had minor adjustments for clarity and exposure. The first image I also straightened a bit. I’ve then applied a custom Luminar Look that I had made as a preset. It fit as is perfectly on the first image, but required a bit of tweaking on the second one.

A version of the second photo I also posted to Instagram:

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The real reason I go on an early morning #run #heron #cambridge

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

It’s fair to say that my run stats for this morning weren’t stellar. That happens sometimes. Your thoughts and comments on the images are welcome below. This post has been added to A Photo A Week Challenge, Water.


iPhone, Lens Artists Photo Challenge, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: The Road Ahead

So, technically it’s not a road, it’s a path. Also, I’m not exactly on it:

ISO 25 f/2.2 1/50sec 4.2mm

But I do love this spot. A green space in the middle of the city with such gorgeous trees, what’s not to love? I’ve been walking through this park a lot in the last week, it helps me clear my head a bit. There’s a lot going on in the world and in my life. Being near this path reminds me that it is actually about the journey, it’s not important that I don’t have all the details worked out yet. The photo though, I like it, so I edited it a bit:

ISO 25 f/2.2 1/50sec 4.2mm

First was the crop, it helps to bring the path and the trees a bit more into focus. I’ve added a custom vintage film look that I created within Luminar. To me, that settles the image a bit more into the way this setting lives in my mind. It’s a bit more rich and deep in my mind than in real life. That’s me bringing my journey on the path along and placing it in the photo.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome below. This post was written in response to the Len-Artists Photo Challenge, Long and Winding Road.



52 Week Smartphone Challenge, iPhone, Luminar

52 Week Smartphone Challenge: Week 22

Well here’s a thing that happened this past week:

ISO 100 f/2.2 1/33sec 4.2mm

It’s odd to look around at what has been our home for the last four years. We arrived as strangers and are leaving during strange times. The photo above was shot on my iPhone and edited in Luminar. It has the Luminar Look, Quay Fade, applied at 47%. I also edited the vignette.

Your thoughts on the photo or edit are welcome below.


52 Week Smartphone Challenge, Animals, iPhone, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photography

52 Week Smartphone Challenge: Week 21

When I need a bit of serenity, I go for a walk:

ISO 25 f/2.2 1/1672sec 4.2mm

This photo has Luminar Look, Camden Desat, added to it and then a bit of luminance.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome below.


52 Week Smartphone Challenge, iPhone, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography

52 Week Smartphone Challenge: Week 20

The challenge this week asks for a landscape image using negative space. To me, this image is as much about the solid blue as it is the more variant tones of white in the clouds. The simpler, more even, blue is an important canvas for the texture of the sky:

ISO 25 f/2.2 1/12821 sec 4.2mm

The photo has the Luminar Look, Somerset, applied to it. I’ve also cropped the image slightly and added a vignette. Your thoughts and comments are welcome below.


Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Lens Artists Photo Challenge, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Interpretation

While a good majority of my photography is about recording a scene and then editing to show what I saw, it is fun also to interpret a scene. That was the case when I shot this photo at the Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam in the Fall of 2016:

ISO 200 f/2.7 1/200sec 4.3mm

This photo gives you an idea of what the bronze statues around Rembrandt’s statue look like. They are an interpretation and tribute to his painting The Night Watch. I took the first photo as a way of remembering the overall scene. Then I took this photo:

ISO 200 f/2.7 1/250sec 4.3mm

It was a more detailed shot of the statues, as I found their texture to be very interesting. I knew I wanted a few things out of my interpretation. The first was to keep that detail of the bronze as an important element. The second was to use the terribly blown out sky in a creative way:

ISO 200 f/2.7 1/250sec 4.3mm

An adjustment to the detail slider helped bring the clarity I wanted. I used the “small details” only. The Luminar Look, Enigma, gave me the glowing sky I wanted.

Now a word about cropping. The first crop was done in-camera. That was the conscious step of photographing the whole scene and then asking myself what I found most interesting about what was in front of me and then taking a photo of that. That is how the second photo came to be. I often approach photography this way. Particularly when I travel, I find this a nice exercise in being in the moment. It makes for nice memories too, when I looked at these original files this morning, I could remember this moment. The second crop was done during the editing process, that building is pretty distracting. When the crop didn’t remove it entirely, I used the clone and stamp tool to take the rest of it out.

The last edit was to set a vignette with the center on the statue. It’s a pretty subtle vignette, particularly compared to some of the other, more drastic, edits.  A bit of a final nudge.

Your thoughts, comments, or questions about my method or the edits are welcome below.


Added to Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Cropping the Shot.

50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge, Luminar, made with Luminar, Photo Editing, Photography

Made With Luminar: Dolbadarn Castle

This shot of Dolbadarn Castle was taken on August 18, 2016.

ISO 500 f/11 1/100sec 50mm

Usually, with photos included in this series, I show the original file. I opted not to with this post because one of my children was in the original file. Other first adjustments included white balance and an increase in the luminance of the greens and yellows in the image. I did also crop this image. The Luminar Look, Past Days, was added at 100% with adjustments to the split toning and texture amount filters.

Added to Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge, Decayed or Rusty.


The Made with Luminar Series

This image is part of a project I am calling Made with Luminar. What the images in this series have in common is the software used to edit them, Luminar 3. As with my usual blog posts particulars of the camera settings can be found in the caption below the image. I’ll then explain what other filters and edits have been applied, often mentioning what layer and therefore order that they were applied. The text of these posts includes any Luminar “Looks” that have been applied to the photo. Each look is a series of presets that are applied to the photo. Where applicable I will mention what changes I have made to any of the looks. A full explanation of looks is available here on their website,

You can assume basic edits have been applied. My most common edits are cropping, detail enhancement, and vignette. Specific questions or thoughts on the image are welcome in the comment section below.


Flowers, iPhone, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photography

52 Week Smartphone Challenge: Week 19

The challenge set for this week is Aging. It’s a beautiful time of year for that, with a lot of flowers blooming and then fading. This wisteria on the garden wall of a nearby neighbour is stunning. I take photos of it every year. It also smells wonderful. A close look though and you will see that parts of the blooms have begun to fade:

ISO 25 f/2.2 1/905sec 4.2mm

The photo has been cropped and had some luminance added. It has the Luminar Look, Aethereal added and set to 32%. Your thoughts and comments are welcome below.