My first time using Skylum Luminar and Aurora HDR 2018 [Photo Redux 010]

By |2018-03-15T17:39:03+00:00Feb 12th, 2018|

Several weeks ago, I conducted a survey with my newsletter subscribers. It’s always important that I have a good idea of what sort of content they would find most helpful and one of the questions, in particular, yielded an interesting result. I had asked my subscribers what photo editing products they were most interested in learning more about. Mind you, I wasn’t asking which apps they currently use the most. To my surprise, the two most popular responses were Skylum Luminar 2018 and Aurora HDR 2018. If you aren’t familiar with the name “Skylum”, that’s because they recently rebranded from their former brand “Macphun”. So, I decided that it’d be worth changing things up with my Photo Redux series and use both Luminar and Aurora HDR to rethink how I edit this old photo from 2010. I’ve spent some time familiarizing myself with both apps and I have to say that I’m impressed with the fluidity of the UI and the intelligence found with some of their filters, especially the sunburst filter. So give the video a gander and let me know what you think. And if you don’t currently own either app, you can download free trials for both and follow along.

Try Luminar 2018
Try Aurora HDR 2018

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2010 vs 2018





  1. Rowan Sims - Travel Photography February 12, 2018 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    I’ve used Aurora in the past and not been too impressed with it. I have the new version but haven’t really tested it out properly. I guess I should give it another try. Thanks Brian 😁

  2. rspradling February 12, 2018 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    I am going to continue using Lightroom Classic for management and very basic processing (I am impressed with the Auto button) for the first step and then I expect to use one of the Skylum programs for the rest. I wanted to only use On One Photo Raw but I just cannot get satisfied with it overall. Skylum needs to include the kind of masking options found in On One for a more “ultimate” post processing suite. I welcome whatever you chose to do in Skylum programs.

  3. GeraldFisher February 13, 2018 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Hope the improvements of Skylum and On1 products will ‘scare’ Adobe to a full LR do-over.

  4. Ian Lancaster February 13, 2018 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Enjoyed the video. I like the idea of the sun rays – a cool effect – but do you think it matters at all that in reality the rays would be bent by the fisheye lens? I guess the final effect is subtle enough that no one would notice.

  5. FriedaHeyting February 13, 2018 at 11:18 am - Reply

    It all looks very interesting, and I even bought both progams. However, why does nobody mention that the windows version of these programs do nog take monitor calibration into account? That makes them almost useless. Skylum seems to acknowledge the problem, but they will not say when – if ever – it will be solved.

  6. Prof. Hans Habereder February 13, 2018 at 11:46 am - Reply

    I used ON 1 from version 7 to 10 but version 10 was a disaster, crashing constantly and making huge file sizes. I have On 1 Raw 2018 but do not use it, I have moved on to Affinity Photo and still use Lightroom 5 for management . I also own Aurora HDR 2018 but dont use it much preferring to stick with Affinity which also has a very good HDR capability. I have the earlier Skylum products Creative Kit 2016 but one could never determine exactly what each of the controls really does so I dropped it. I stiil use the NIK collection which is still the best for colour and it works as a plug in to affinity Photo.

  7. Cary Wolfson February 13, 2018 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Although I have a Sony A7ii mirrorless camera, about 90% of what I’ve shot in the past year has been with my iPhone 6S. I like the spontaneity it affords me. When I’m just sending something to Facebook or Instagram I will use Snapseed (and occasionally some of the more artistic apps), but for competitions and prints I go to Lightroom and then Luminar. I also have ON1 Raw and Photoshop, but I can usually get the look I want from Luminar. I’m impressed.

  8. Fred S. Haider February 13, 2018 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    I purchased Luminar 2018 and it appears to be a great addition. I did run into some difficulty with sunday filter. I shot a sunrise and placed the sunray behind a rock and the rays protruded up and down. I wanted to mask out the bottom but even time I clicked the mask brush it eliminated all rays. I tried to paint in the rays about the rock ( no luck) and tried to paint out there rays in front of the rock (no luck). I tried the pentratation and that helped but did not really do what I wanted. Suggestions? What am I doing wrong? Can I mask out special portions? I can send the file if you want to use it for tutorial purposes. I am sure there are other effects filters and presets to if you want go all out and turn a sow into a silk purse that would be instructive as well. If there are written instructions on masking the sunday filter that would be enough. Thanks Brian. I enjoy your tutorial as well as Nicolsey’s. Luminar launch video from you two convinced me to purchase Luminar. Now I want to truly learn a master it.

  9. Carlo Didier February 14, 2018 at 2:58 am - Reply

    Tried both Luminar and Aurora (actually even bought Aurora!), but both were so slow on my two PCs (an older i5 desktop and a newer i7 gaming laptop, both running Windows 10 64-bit with SSDs and 16GB RAM) to the point that they were absolutely unusable! It was just laughable. Gladly, I got a refund for the Aurora.

  10. Joachim Fritze February 14, 2018 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    I use both programs for some time and see the differences between the Mac and the Windows version for some months now. The I7 on my 3 years old Mac is pretty fast and I use an 8 years old small Fujitso workstation with Windows 7 Prof. on the PC side. It is pretty clear, the windows versions are by far not usable as elegant as the Mac programs are, but I do not see the major problem in the system speed, I think the adaptation of nearly every feature I really enjoy on the Mac side is still pretty humble under Windows up to the point that you only can work on a single picture at a time. Nevertheless every single render function with Luminar on my PC side is finished in 6s and all exports are finished in 10s. Bracketing in Aurora can take longer (up to 20s) but not the rendering or exporting. So I still use my Mac most of the time because every installation is still running faster on the Mac than the already fast running version on my much older PC, but if I would only had the option on the PC between ON1 Raw or one of the Skylum products I would definitely not go for ON1.
    I bought all of them, worked with them more than a year and there is no faster way for me than using Luminar to transfer an average Photograph into something exceptional (in the Mac World as well as on the Windows side). I never get used to Affinity or Capture and I do not like the Adobe strategy, so Skylum is my solution.
    What really drives me nuts is, that in a number of cases I had to reinstall the Windows version after an update because the updated PC-version wouldn’t start again (Luminar as well as Aurora) and you need to download the update again.

  11. Marcia Fasy February 15, 2018 at 11:12 am - Reply

    I have been using Aurora and Luminar from it’s beginning. I am a LR and PS user as well and still use LR Classic CC for import and organization. I also have ON1photo plus for the third year and Topaz Studio. Of all these I prefer Photoshop 2018 and using Luminar as a plugin. Aurora is my favorite HDR program. I have used most of the other programs in the past and I think Aurora is the best.

  12. Kim Braley February 17, 2018 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    I own both Skylum products, but have yet to try them out. Thank you for the demo – this helps me know where to start; I’ll be pulling some of my bracketed shots to play around with. I love the ability to add a ray of sun! Looking forward to your next video. :)

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