18-55mm IS lens, Canon 80D, Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge, Lens Artists Photo Challenge, made with Luminar, Photo Editing, Photography, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Technical Difficulties, Please Stand By

Sometimes photo editing is really difficult and I’m not even talking about the actual editing, I’m talking about the editing software itself. I’ve crashed out a few times on a few different software applications, but this time, it’s Luminar 3. I’m back in business again. I’ve learned a few things and had a few things I already knew reinforced. The most important thing that I already knew is to backup your work. Please do this. Because I do this, my Luminar 3 crash was not utterly devastating. When considering how to approach your backup, I would advise you whatever software you are using, to make a high-quality jpeg version of your final edit. This is in addition to the backup of your drives that you are already doing.

What I learned is that Luminar 3 is not currently capable of handling a large library. In my subsequent research on how to rethink my approach, I found this Matt Suess video to be a really good starting point. In the video, he offers a few options of how to work around this library issue. I would recommend watching it and then considering which variation you might want to apply or modify for your library set-up.

This crash was a complete drain on my creative energy and time in general. I keep track of the time I spend on photography and this past week, this crash took 11 hours of work time to fix. This does not include the backups I ran of my drives. Hopefully, the fix will hold. As of the writing of this post, it seems solid.

This photo is my first edit under my newly revamped set-up:

ISO 200 f/11 1/200sec 55mm

This photo has a total of four layers. The first was some basic edits, a crop and details enhancer. The second was a Luminar Look applied called Camden Fade. It is an analogue film style look. The third was my black and white conversion layer. I applied a blue filter within the black and white conversion and then increased the yellow luminance. The fourth layer includes a filter called the Orton effect and a vignette.

The original file is this one:

ISO 200 f/11 1/200sec 55mm

This is a file that I very possibly will be revisiting. I like the black and white edit, but I also think the color edit alternatives here are interesting.

Do you like this particular interpretation? Feel free to leave a comment below.


Added to Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge, Bricks or Stone and Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, Monochrome.

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.

Canon Powershot ELPH 320 HS, Cee's Fun Foto Challenge, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photography, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Old Files

From time to time I go through photographs that I shot several years ago to see if I would like to try a new interpretation of them. That’s how I came to be working on this file:

ISO 250 f/2.7 1/60sec 4.3mm

This photo was taken at St. Michael’s Church in Betws-y-Coed, Wales, in 2016. So, some things haven’t changed since then, like the fact that I enjoy visiting churches and graveyards. This photo was taken with my point and shoot that only has jpeg file capability.  That means there is a limit to how much detail I am going to get out of the sky. To work around that one of the filters that I used was “dark fog”. I paired it with a filter called “Old Timer” that I have in a collection of Halloween “looks”. I felt that a Halloween filter was appropriate with it being October and the photo being an old graveyard. My final edit was something much darker than the original:

ISO 250 f/2.7 1/60sec 4.3mm

Do you like the edit? That tree was really something else! and I feel like it adds a lot of character to the photo. Feel free to leave a comment below.


Added to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, Circles, Curves, and Arches.

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, Animals, Birds, Canon 80D, Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge, Luminar, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Using a Brush

Among my files that I am working on this week is this one:

ISO 1000 f/11 1/25sec 55mm

This qualifies as a snapshot. I had just a moment to catch the “who me?” expression on the bird’s face just as he was standing near the warning sign. What I wanted to do was make the story more front and center. A crop was an obvious choice. I thought also I might like this in black and white.  The edit is here:

ISO 1000 f/11 1/25sec 55mm

I’ll call this a black and white with a cheat. I did a layer with my initial edits like the crop and some clarity. Then I did another layer with a the black and white edits. This particular black and white is done with a yellow filter, that ended up being the interpretation that I prefered. Then I added a final layer. I took a brush to that layer, made it the size of the bird’s eye and set the opacity to 35%. I was erasing just a bit off the black and white layer, just on the eye. So the final edit has a hint of color to the bird’s eye. I use the brush fairly regularly in my editing process. I don’t always think about setting its opacity, but that is a small but impactful way to make use of the tool. My final edit was a vignette that is centered on the eye, further accenting the look the bird was giving me.

What do you think of the final image, does the story pop more? Do you like the touch of color? Feel free to comment below.


Added to Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge, Signs.


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.