We all take photos, often on iPhones, that we wish we could quickly and easily tweak. This is especially true for images captured with the intent of promoting our organizations’ social media and marketing initiatives. But many of the image-editing applications often require you first learn complex interfaces and master vector paths.

Skylum’s Luminar 2018, on the other hand, addresses common image issues–including color correction, brightening and darkening, cropping, and applying filters–without requiring you to become an expert in manipulating a variety of palettes, layers, and tools. Although Luminar packs the capacity to build images in layers, apply multiple filter elements, and adjust specific hue, saturation, and exposure elements, for example, the program simplifies quickly adjusting an entire image using just a few clicks and maybe a slider-bar adjustment or two (Figure A). That’s it.

Figure A

In addition to providing an adaptive interface based on the user’s needs and skill level, the program includes numerous filters, a real-time image processing engine, a quick-compare view with side-by-side comparison capability and typical cropping, noise reduction, and object removal tools. New in Luminar 2018 are a digital asset management module (to be introduced later in 2018), improved and faster RAW file handling, and lens correction features. The 2018 platform also includes numerous new nondestructive filters, including for dodge and burn, sun rays, hue shift, brilliance/warmth, and matte look.

SEE: Software Purchase Approval Form (Tech Pro Research)

How Luminar 2018 works

Say you want to improve the lighting and color on a particularly dark photo. Begin by opening Luminar 2018, then click the Open Image button (or drag the photo you wish to edit directly into the application). Select the filter you wish to apply using the presets toolbar that appears at the bottom of the application. Note: You can scroll through the filters and select from different filter categories using the provided Categories drop-down menu. Perform any additional adjustments using any or all of the Tone, Saturation, Polarizing Filter, and Structure slider bars found within the Side Toolbar (Figure B).

Figure B

Note: You can click the Compare icon from the top menu if you wish to compare the changes you’re making side-by-side. Once you have the photo tweaked as you intend, click File, select Export, and specify the filename, location, and format; among the options you can choose are JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, Photoshop, and PDF. And that’s it. You’re done, although the program includes the capacity to dig deeper, if you wish, and use layers, apply masks, and leverage plugins, including Aurora HDR.

SEE: Getting started with drone photography (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Pricing and system requirements for Luminar 2018

The program is available now for Luminar 2017 users seeking to upgrade. The pre-order upgrade cost is $39, while the retail upgrade price is $49. I recommend purchasing directly through the Mac App store to better organize all your Mac software purchases, but you can also order directly from Skylum or a partner site. The software was released to new users on November 16, 2017, and the price is $69.00.

Mac system recommendations include an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU from later 2009 or newer, a minimum of 4 GB RAM, OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite or newer, 5 GB free disk space, and an SSD for best performance. Retina displays are supported but not required. A Windows edition is also available.