The Essentials Tools Panel in Skylum Luminar is a set of filters. These filters are frequently used in any image post-processing workflow. This article is an ultimate guide to the Light Tools Tab in the Essentials Tools Panel.
Light Tools Tab
The Luminar Essentials Light Tools are a selection of sliders to adjust the colour and tonal balance in an image. They are the foundation for any other adjustments you are going to make to your image, and for this reason, sits at the top of the Essentials Tools panel.
White Balance – Is a global adjustment affecting the intensities of all the colours in an image. The main aim of this adjustment is to render neutral colours correctly to the eye. If you are working with a RAW file, you get a set of pull-down options, to choose from. If not, then you can use the eyedropper to select an area in the image that should be pure white.
This slider adds warmth or coolness to a shot. What it essentially does is add yellow for more warmth and cyan for a cooler colour tone. It globally affects all pixels in the image.
This slider is for when you need to remove a colour cast from an image. It does this by increasing either the amount of green or magenta tones. It globally affects all pixels in the image.
This slider globally adjusts the luminance of the image. Moving the slider to the left darkens the image to simulate a lower exposure, and to the right a brighter image, to simulate an increase in exposure.
This slider globally adjusts the ratio of tones in an image. The Smart Contrast is a great tool for enhancing the colour, textures, highlights, and shadows. Moving the slider to the left reduces the difference in colour and brightness, and moving to the right increased the colour and brightness. The software prevents the shift in colours from impacting the details in the image, which is why its called Smart Contrast.
This slider pinpoints the bright areas of the image. A left slider movement makes highlights darker, and a right slider movement makes them brighter. It’s a very useful tool when you only want to adjust one tonal range within the image.
This area pinpoints the darker areas of the image. A left slider movement makes the shadows darker, increasing the number of shadows. A right slider movement makes the shadows brighter, reducing the amount of shadows.
At the bottom of the Light Tools Tab, sits an Advanced Settings button.
Clicking this brings up two further sliders, Whites and Blacks, as well as a curves adjustment tool.
Whites – Adjusts the white point of the histogram and white tones in the image.
Blacks – Adjusts the black point of the histogram and black tones in the image.
Expressing this in a different way, the White slider allows you to control how many pure white pixels there are in an image, and the Black slider does the same but targets only the black pixels.
Luminar Essentials Curves Adjustment Tool
The Curves Adjustment Tool is a graphical tool that does everything that the sliders do in the Light Tools tab, plus a little bit more! But it comes in a graphical interface. Many users find this method of adjustment a little daunting, but it is easier than you may think.
At the top of the tool is 4 radio buttons, one is a global adjustment, the other three target Red, Green & Blue. Next is a gradient curve adjustment, and finally a contrast slider at the bottom. The easiest way to explain the tool is to go through those adjustments in reverse order.
Contrast Slider Adjustments
Moving the bottom-left button adjusts the black point of the histogram i.e. moving the button to the right increases the black tones and darkens in the image.
If you move the bottom-right button adjusts the white point of the histogram i.e. moving the button to the left increases the white tones and lightens in the image.
If you move the bottom-centre button, it adjusts the mid-tones of the histogram. Moving to the right darkens the mid-tones and left lightens them.
Gradient Line Adjustments
You can make direct edits on the gradient line by left clicking at any point on the gradient line. When you do a draggable dot appears, and you can push and pull the line. You can add multiple draggable dots anywhere along the line. The most popular edit using this method is to add a slight S-Curve. This has the effect of tightening the black-white contrast and boosting the mid-tones.
Finally, by left-clicking on the Red, Green, & Blue radio buttons, you can directly edit these colour channels in the histogram. This is useful, if you want to replicate the effect of a coloured lens filter, or if you want to saturate or desaturate a specific colour. The method of editing is the same as above. You make edits by clicking on the line and dragging. Here is an example using the red channel to apply a red filter:
This Luminar Essentials – Light Tools article forms a suite of interactive guides on the Skylum Luminar photo editing software. If you found this useful, please check out our other Luminar articles and how-to guides in the Learn Photography section of our site.
If you don’t yet have a copy of Luminar, but would like to purchase one, you can get a copy from the Luminar website.
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