18-55mm IS lens, Canon 80D, made with Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Tuesday Photo Challenge

Made with Luminar: From a Great Height

Well, this was a fun shot to get:

ISO 1000 f/10 1/100sec 29mm

It’s a shot from the top of St. Albans Cathedral. We were lucky, it had been raining earlier that morning and it started to rain again after the tour, so our timing was perfect for their tower tour. After we came back down, we did the floor tour as well. Both were really interesting and complimented each other well.  Here is my final edit of the photo:

ISO 1000 f/10 1/100sec 29mm

In Luminar a LUT called “Chrono Steel” was added at 64% and also the Golden Hour filter.

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. The text of these posts includes the 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, https://skylum.com/luminar/user-guides/chapter-14-working-with-luminar-looks

You can assume other 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.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, Steep.

50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Luminar, made with Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Picfair, travel, Tuesday Photo Challenge, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Editing the Landscape

I do a lot of photo editing and it is easy to get into the habit of using the same filters every time.  In order to encourage myself to try different things, I watch a lot of tutorial videos on Youtube. I feel free to adopt some suggestions and leave others, but I think it is important to understand that most photo editing software has lots of options and so knowing what is even available is important.  One of the files I was working on the week was this photo, taken at Mt. Snowdon in Wales in 2016:

ISO 800 f/13 1/800sec 50mm

It was a fabulous view, even if this particular file doesn’t really seem to suggest that. I was also watching this tutorial on Youtube. It’s specific to editing a landscape in Luminar which is the software I am using, but I would say that the suggestions made can be applied in other editing software as well. One of the first suggestions was to use the dehaze slider. Now that happens to be a slider I almost never use but for this file, it seemed like a really good starting place. For this edit below, I then went on to use the sky filter, the foliage enhancer, the HSL panel for luminance, and the small details slider for sharpening. The final edit was this one:

ISO 800 f/13 1/800sec 50mm

I think this edit is a pretty close representation of what I saw that day. From there I decided to do a more creative edit. This particular edit has two additional layers, the first was the Luminar look, Overlook, added with modifications and the second layer is an AI filter and vignette. Here is that version:

ISO 800 f/13 1/800sec 50mm

I like it also but will readily admit it is not what I saw. The Picfair version of it is here.

So which version is better? which do you prefer? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, Back Catalog.


50mm Lens, Canon 50D, Luminar, made with Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, travel, Tuesday Photo Challenge, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: LUT’s

Before I get into the steps and explanations I’ll say that I wanted to experiment a bit with this file:

ISO 800 f/13 1/2000 sec 50mm

It’s shot from Mt. Snowdon in Wales, a hike that is popular but needs to be treated with respect, so if you are thinking of doing it some planning and also checking the current weather conditions are necessary.

The final edit is this one:

ISO 800 f/13 1/2000 sec 50mm

I was thinking about two things in this edit. The first was that in person, the haze that shows in the photo file seemed less. The second was that the contrast between light and dark seemed more pronounced. I’ve reflected this in both the sky and the shadows on the mountain. The final edit is more like the hike that resides in my memory.

I started with editing the sky on its own layer. In this past post, I talk a bit more about that and include a link with video instructions. What I would point out here is that I think it is important to do sky specific edits on its own layer because this makes it possible to revisit the edit and make changes without having to effect other edits done on other layers.

The next phase of the editing process was more experimental. In this case, I am using LUTs to create a new look for the photo. LUT stands for lookup table and when you apply one it will change the color and tone of the image based on the instructions that are in the LUT. This explanation of LUTs and how they work I have chosen to link in because I think it provides a good explanation of what a LUT is and then directions of how to access them within Luminar which is the software I am using. The further step that I have taken is to use two LUTs on the photo. I have each of them on a separate layer. Having set the two layers in place, I could then use the sliders available on each to control the amount of LUT applied. When working with this type of preset, it is important to remember that once applied, you can make edits to the preset, you are not obligated to keep it as is.

Editing software comes with all sorts of presets and as you are learning to use it, I would advise experimenting. Making even small changes from a preset can help the photo you are working on look more like the vision you have for it rather than a set idea the software has added. Feel free to comment or ask a question below.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, Tourism.

18-55mm IS lens, Canon 80D, Luminar, Photo Editing, Photography, Tuesday Photo Challenge, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Building Blocks

Sometimes my process of creating an image can involve many steps. The first can be as simple as what is going on around me or what I might be looking at online. For this particular image, I pulled it out to work on because, as you will see in the link at the bottom, Tuesday’s Photo Challenge is stone. The photo Frank used in the prompt was shot in Ireland. So, I thought it would be interesting to also create a stone image from Ireland. Here is the image I started with:

ISO 3200 f/11 1/80sec 18mm

I liked this image because of the story I saw in it, and went about coaxing what I saw in it, out of it. What follows is a series of screenshots of the various stages of construction. First is the overall general edits:

Shows the first basic steps.

I adjusted the whites (up) and blacks (down), boosted the luminance of the reds, oranges, and yellows, then I sharpened a bit by increasing the small details.

The next layer, I labelled “Desaturation layer”. On this layer, using the HSL sliders, I removed the following colors: green, aqua, blue, purple, and magenta:

Where I remove most of the color.

For the final layer, I added my custom made look called “Amy Black and White Pinhole”:

In a minute I would add back in a hint of color.

I have a blog post about creating a saving a custom look here. Then I set about editing that look for this particular photograph, and the end result is this:

ISO 3200 f/11 1/80sec 18mm

I did things like adding the saturation of the reds and yellows back in. I’ve also tweaked the amount of the “Orton Effect” filter and set the vignette in a better way for this particular scene.

Writing out these steps has been an interesting experience as well. It has taken longer to do that then execute the steps, or at least it felt longer. Creating the image, in this case, was pretty simple because the final edit was something that I had already seen in my mind and I had a fairly decent idea of how I was going to go about getting it to emerge.

Thanks for reading this far. Feel free to leave and comment below. This photo has been added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, Stone. If you are like me and enjoy looking at stones, there is a camera installed at Stonehenge, I find it calming and visit a few times a week. The photo from this post was taken at Kilmainham Gaol, a prison in Dublin that is well worth touring.


18-55mm IS lens, Birds, Canon 80D, Instagram, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Tuesday Photo Challenge, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Morning Stretch

Fall has officially arrived. Feel free to disagree with me, but in my house, fall happens when school re-starts. One thing that fall brings for me is a shift back to a routine that accommodates school and related activities. It can does compete with my photography related pursuits. Call it creative tension. It happens that I do my best creative thinking early in the morning. So, I capitalize on that the best I can. Most mornings you will find me first thing in front of my photo files. Yesterday it was these two files:

This is a Bengal eagle-owl. The brown and golden tones on this bird are really beautiful. So, my first file I edited just to showcase that and kept the edits to a minimum. Here is how that turned out:

ISO 2500 f/11 1/15sec 55mm

I’ve cropped the image, increased clarity with the small details slider in Luminar 3, and added a vignette which I centered on the eagle’s eye. I was happy with the edit, but for the other file, I wanted to be a bit more creative while still keeping the eagle looking as it did in real life.  Here is what I came up with:

ISO 2500 f/11 1/15sec 55mm

For this edit, I added another layer that has what Luminar 3 calls a “look” basically each look is a grouping of various presets that you can apply and then modify if you like. In this case, I applied the look, then added a mask and erased the look off of the eagle.

I was pretty happy with the outcome of these two edits. Then the rest of my day started, early morning photography time was over. What happens next with these photos? Well, probably not a whole lot.  The second one did make an appearance on my Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

Needing a weekend like… #friyay #weekend #owl #bengaleagleowl

A post shared by Amy Maranto (@marantophotography) on

I’ll keep these files in part because I just think this is a pretty bird. To me, that’s a good enough reason. I also enjoy working with files like this to experiment with new editing ideas.

What do you think of the edits? is there a time of day where you feel like you are more creative? Feel free to comment below.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, Fall.


11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, Luminar, Photo Editing, Photography, Tuesday Photo Challenge, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Embrace Your Situation

I really enjoy photography but I also have a life that has a lot of other moving parts which means photography can’t always be my main focus. It puts me in the category of “enthusiast” rather than “professional”. In my mind (and life) one of the differences between those two categories is that I have to take the picture when I have the opportunity instead of setting up to go at a certain time based on ideal shooting conditions. My trip to Berlin near Christmas time is an example of this. I’d never been, do you think I am going to pass up the opportunity to take photos of the Brandenburg Gate? I can assure you that I did not. However, my chance to be there was on an overcast day at 10 in the morning:

ISO 500 f/18 1/60sec 17mm

It was every bit the iconic spot I’d read about and seen photos of even if this particular file doesn’t really seem to express that. Now what? I could have a bit of a moan about not having the right opportunity or gear but to be honest, I had a really good time in Berlin and wouldn’t want to have messed up everyone else just for the chance to photograph this differently, I also do not need one more piece of kit.

So this is my file and my challenge. What would I like to bring to it? A first edit focused on the warm tones I saw in the stones. The edit was fine but not too interesting to me as it turned out. I let the file sit for a few months then came back to it this week. This time I really saw the couple in the foreground, they seemed to be contemplating the spot in a way that I felt I could relate to, so that became the focus of my edit:

ISO 500 f/18 1/60sec 17mm

I’ve used a crop, mostly because the file had too much around the edges that wasn’t necessary. I went black and white and slightly grainy and not too crazy with any kind of sharpening. I feel like these edits made it more universal, more of a story than a news article. I’ve used a vignette to help focus on the couple. The center of the vignette is set right on them. In Luminar there is a slider within the vignette that is marked “inner brightness” this helped them stand out even more.

The end result is an image that I am happy with. Your thoughts on the edits or your approach to mixing photography and the rest of your life are welcome below.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, City.


18-55mm IS lens, Canon 80D, Cee's Fun Foto Challenge, iPhone, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Tuesday Photo Challenge

Walls of the Missing

I am planning to visit the Cambridge American Cemetery again soon and as part of that, I was looking through some photo files that I shot this past winter. One of the features in the cemetery is its Walls of the Missing that have 5,127 names on it. It’s an interesting structure in that there are places where you can walk through and it operates as both a barrier to the outside, but also an entrance and exit between the cemetery and it’s exterior. So it’s both a wall and a door. It’s imposing, yet delicate; Both personal and impersonal. During this particular photo editing session, I was working with images that included the Wall:

These first images are ones that I shot on my iPhone using the app Hipstamatic. One of the features of that app is “randomize” which means you shake your phone, take your photo, and the app applies a random selection of filters. I created a series of those over the course of my visit.

I also brought my Canon 80D:

ISO 400 24mm f/11 1/250sec


ISO 400 24mm f/11 1/640

These two photos I edited in Luminar 3 with an eye to accentuating the warm but quickly fading light of a February afternoon.

It was an interesting work session, and I was giving some thought to how different the lighting conditions will be since my next visit will be in July. In that vein, I think it is nice as a photographer to have the experience of shooting the same place at different times of the year. It’s a good exercise in thinking through things like light. It’s also interesting to then have the time of year be part of the narrative of the image.

Do you have a place like this, that you visit regularly over the year in part just to see the changes? What do you think of my various photos, is there a particular one that speaks to you? Feel free to comment below.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, Wall and Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, 5+ Items.


11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Cee's Fun Foto Challenge, iPhone, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Tuesday Photo Challenge

And the Number of the Cameras Shall be Three

Do any looking online about photography and you are going to run into all kinds of information about the kind of gear you have to have. Welcome to my version of that. It goes something like this, what do you have? what are you willing to haul along? good, great, let’s go! Today it’s to the Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea, said to be the oldest Greek Orthodox Church in Athens:

ISO 800 10mm f/22 1/80sec

That’s the photo I took using my Canon 50D.

ISO 200 4.3mm f/2.7 1/125 sec

That’s the photo I took using my Canon PowerShot.

ISO 25 4.2mm f/22 1/337 sec

That’s the photo I took using my iPhone.

That’s right, I was willing to haul three cameras around Athens, and you bet I used all three. The Canon 50D I took with a wide-angle lens. It’s good at getting a full building shot in a city. That particular shot was taken in the RAW format which meant plenty of data for later editing. For that edit, I went with a warm vintage look in homage to the color of the stones and the age of the building.

The second photo was taken with my Canon PowerShot which is a point and shoot camera that does not have RAW capability. What it does do nicely is handle color well, even in low light situations, so I often use it when I am capturing the detail of something. In this case, it’s the radiance of that mosaic.

The third shot was taken using my iPhone. Often when I am in a new place and taking photos, I  get a shot using my iPhone because I keep GPS data on and I use these types of photos later to confirm the exact location of where I was which helps with things like figuring out how to spell the name of this church.

Have you spotted the no photography sign on the church door? While I find that disappointing, I’m ok with that, so I stowed all three cameras and went inside to take a look. Sometimes just having the memory of an experience is sufficient, regardless of how many cameras you are carrying.

How do you decide what gear to haul? do you have a go-to set up for shooting in the city? Feel free to leave a comment about that or the edits I chose in the comment section below.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge, Radiant and Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Three.

18-55mm IS lens, Canon 80D, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Tuesday Photo Challenge

A Few Feet off the Trail

I like to go walking. I enjoy it enough to belong to a walking group. Now there are a lot of reasons people join walking groups, but for me, the biggest draw was going on walks that I might not have discovered on my own. A few months ago our group went on a walk that included a tour of this church that was just off the trail we were walking on:

ISO 250 28mm f/11 1/640sec

This church is St. Denis. It is currently under the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches. The link I’ve included leads to specific renovations that the church is undergoing. We were met there by some folks who were pretty enthusiastic about the project and were happy to show us around and give us a bit of history on the building. I honestly had never heard of the charity before, but find their work really interesting. As for the photo above, here is my edit:

ISO 250 28mm f/11 1/640sec

Just like the work going on in the church, this edit was a pretty big overhaul as well. As pretty as the day was, the tones in the original file just didn’t really appeal to me. I started with the shadows slider though, to bring back some detail. I’ve changed the color tones quite a bit and added some grain to give the edit a bit of a vintage look. I chose these particular color tones because once inside the church, the light was warmer and more diffuse than outside, and I’ve chosen to apply that to this edit.

It was worth stepping off the trail to take a look at this church, I really enjoyed my visit. Do you like this edit? Feel free to leave a comment below.


Added to Tuesday Photo Challenge: Trail.

11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Six Word Saturday, travel, Tuesday Photo Challenge

Six-Word Saturday, Delphi

High up and with the clouds,

people built and then journeyed to,

a place fit for the gods.


ISO 800 f/22 15mm 1/40sec

Added to Six-Word Saturday and Tuesday Photo Challenge, Ancient.