Skylum: How to Make Real Estate Photos that Sell? [with Aurora HDR 2019]

https://skylum.com/blog/aurora-hdr-for-real-estate-photography

“If you saw two property listings – one with high-quality photos, and one with no preview at all, which one would you pick? 99.9% of the time you would go with the property that has photos.

It might sound drastic, but quality photos could make the difference between booking a viewing or not.

In this article, we look at Aurora HDR for real estate photography.

We look at why HDR photos are suitable for real estate photography, and why Aurora HDR, in particular, is an excellent choice as an editing program….”

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Skylum Aurora HDR provides the most feature-complete set of controls for merging and styling multiple-bracket and single-frame high dynamic range images.

Commentary

Skylum’s Aurora HDR software has reached full maturation with Aurora 2019 and has enabled me to create high dynamic range multiple-shot images that I could only visual but not achieve in previous years.

My interest in HDR imaging was first parked by its possibilities for portraiture where I was unable to carry the full complement of lights, lighting stands, power cables, power packs and filters that I used to carry and that all too often must be left behind at our home studio due to their size and weight.

I also rely on Aurora HDR when photographing cityscapes, suburban landscapes and interiors, as well as portraits and still life or product shots, when I need to present a full tonal range from deepest darks to lightest whites rather than simulate the truncated tonal look of the analog films of yesteryear such as Velvia or Ektachrome.

Photographs processed with Skylum Aurora HDR 2019

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Skylum Updates Luminar 2018 Raw Processor/Image Editor with Artificial Intelligence-Driven AI Sky Enhancer

While it seems that most Australian professional photographers of my acquaintance depend on Adobe Bridge’s Camera Raw module in conjunction with Photoshop as their first choice for raw processing and imaged editing, followed by Adobe Lightroom in order of popularity, there are alternative products and alternative software companies.

One of the most creative is Skylum, formerly named Macphun, maker of Aurora HDR and Luminar, the first a high dynamic range image merging and editing application and the second a raw image processing and image editing application the features of which are ever-growing and unlike any other image editor in their scope and innovation. 

Luminar 2018 recently gained an artificial-intelligence driven feature, the AI Sky Enhancer, and the long-awaited major update, Luminar with Libraries, due sometime in December 2018, will add sync and batch editing, image organizing, rating, labelling and tagging to improve Luminar’s photo management and editing editing workflow.  

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Skylum Luminar AI Sky Enhancer filter applied to a Fujifilm X-Pro2 raw file of a local landscape after initial processing with Iridient X-Transformer. Photograph © copyright Karin Gottschalk 2018. All rights reserved.

Ever since Apple signalled the coming end of its support for Aperture, one of the best media management, picture sorting and editing, raw processing and image editing applications ever, relied upon by photographers as well as picture editors, magazine publishers, advertising agencies, deign firms and more, photographers have been searching for a direct replacement and the available solutions have been found wanting to various degrees.

Since then I have tried a number of media management applications and modules built into raw processing and image editing software and none of them have filled the bill in exactly the way I need them to.

Skylum has verb working on a media management solution aka library for Luminar for some time and it looks like it will finally make its appearance soon.

I cannot want to try it out and with luck it will be the media manager cum image library I have been after for all these years.

Skylum Luminar 2018 AI Sky Enhancer Before and After

How Does AI Sky Enhancer Work?

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Sky detection & object recognition: With the help of our deep neural network, Luminar analyzes the image and detects the sky. This neural network had been trained using hundreds of thousands of images with different amounts and different types of sky, whether it’s a tiny patch of blue peeking through a skylight, a cloudy sky flaunting sunset colors, or a dark, ominous sky signaling a storm.
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Semantic Segmentation: Once image analysis is complete, Luminar performs what we call semantic segmentation, separating the image into different layers, based on the semantic and contextual meaning of the objects it detects. This analysis allows the most precise and intelligent sky enhancement with minimal noise, halos, and negative impact on other areas of the image. The AI detects objects in the foreground, defines edges, and analyzes the textures and tones of the sky itself. The deep neural network that powers AI Sky Enhancer had been trained using thousands of real life examples we’ve either taken ourselves or obtained from other professional photographers.
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Smart masking: Following sky detection and segmentation, Luminar applies an automatic mask to the sky that’s invisible to you as the user. When you move the slider to the right, you only notice how the sky becomes more and more beautiful. Just like a professional photographer, AI Sky Enhancer treats different images differently. It applies a custom set of adjustments to a sky, depending on its look. This means that a blue sky will get a treatment far different from a grey sky, and a sunset sky will be enhanced differently from a mid-morning one.

LUTs in Skylum Luminar 2018 and Aurora HDR 2019

I have been developing an approach to portrait photography based on five to seven bracket images batch processed in Iridient X-Transformer then merged in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019 with maximum image editing done in Aurora’s 16-bit colour space including applying film emulation and looks LUTs.

This has only been possible in the way I have long envisaged it since the release of Aurora HDR 2019 and its amazing realistic automatic tone-mapping, a huge evolutionary leap beyond previous versions of Aurora HDR and other HDR software I have used over the years.

The addition of the LUTs feature in both items of Skylum software is welcome as I have assembled an enormous collection of camera profile, film emulation and looks LUTs over the years and enjoy applying the film emulation LUTs in particular to portraits.

The challenge when editing with LUTs is to choose exactly the right one, or two or more of them in combination, to communicate the information and emotions I visualized for the finished image when I made the exposure.

Right now selecting that one or more perfect LUT from a big collection of them is a time-consuming process of trial and error, loading and looking, rejecting then choosing again.

Some video editing applications and colour grading applications and plug-ins have LUT library previewing capabilities that speed up the processing of choosing the best LUT for the job and I want to see the same functionality added to Skylum Luminar 2018 and Aurora HDR 2019.

In illustration, the above three portraits have been graded with three different film emulation LUTs, one from a medium-sized collection and the other two from a far bigger set of LUTs.

Choosing the looks I wanted took far too long and I skipped over thousands of other possible candidates.

Small previews of how each LUT would render the image would have sped up the process considerably.

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Skylum Releases Tonality Mega B&W Pack, Huge Free Monochrome Presets Collection for Its Luminar Image Editing Powerhouse

Skylum has released Tonality Mega B&W Pack, a massive free collection recreations of the looks from Tonality, the company’s legacy black-and-white aka monochrome plug-in cum standalone application named Tonality CK.

Tonality CK is part of the Creative Kit 2016 collection from the days when Skylum traded under the name of Macphun.

The Tonality Mega B&W Pack has been created for Luminar, Skylum’s image editing and raw conversion powerhouse application cum plug-in, available in versions for macOS and Windows. 

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Skylum’s film simulation subset of the Tonality Mega B&W Pack presets pack for Luminar.

I have been hoping for some time that the many excellent film simulations, photochemical toning looks, HDR renderings and more would find their way from Tonality CK into Luminar so the arrival of the Tonality Mega B&W Pack for Luminar is welcome indeed.

The Tonality Mega B&W Pack can be traced back to the Nik Collection’s Silver Efex through Creative Kit 2016’s Tonality CK component via the Nik Software company, several of whose former employees joined Macphun.

Google bought Nik and thus the Nik Collection, apparently for the sake of the company’s Snapseed mobile and desktop image editing application.

Google discontinued the desktop version, sadly, then sold Nik Collection to DxO where it is being developed as a set of Photoshop plug-ins and soon, hopefully, as a plug-in for DxO PhotoLab.

The free Tonality preset collection for Skylum’s Luminar image editing software

Skylum’s Luminar is undergoing development in leaps and bounds with an artificial intelligence-driven Sky Enhancer filter being released shortly, followed not long afterwards by the long-awaited Luminar Libraries module aka media management application that will be released free.

Recent and coming Luminar upgrades are being built with AI technologies developed by Skylum side project Photolemur, an application useful in its own right especially when batch processing large sets of images from events.

I am very excited by the potential of the Tonality Mega B&W Pack for processing raw images I visualized as monochrome when shooting.

Although several image editing applications and plug-ins contain film simulations, can import film simulation styles  and presets or are based entirely upon them, having them contained within Luminar in the form of the Tonality preset pack is handy for keeping it within the same application rather than jumping from one to another and back again.

Tonality Mega B&W Pack contains ten preset categories and over 170 monochrome looks and styles:

  • Tonality Street
  • Tonality Vintage
  • Tonality Toning
  • Tonality Dramatic
  • Tonality Film Emulation
  • Tonality Outdoor
  • Tonality Portrait
  • Tonality Architecture
  • Tonality Basic
  • Tonality HDR

I hope that the Skylum team will look into releasing emulations of great colour films of the past as well as a range of silver-based and non-silver printing processes.

Meanwhile I am excited by the prospect of trying out the Tonality Mega B&W Pack, especially in combining emulations of some of my favourite classic monochrome films with emulations of some of my favourite monochrome split-toning processes.

I visualize, photograph and process my work in monochrome when the colour in the subject and the scene does not serve to convey useful information and emotion, but often choose to process my monochrome images in ways that communicate emotions and informational subtleties swamped by colour.

Example, Tonality Mega B&W Pack in Skylum Luminar 2018

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A quick and dirty sample documentary photograph shot tonight then quickly processed in Skylum Luminar 2018 with Tonality Mega B&W Pack using Ilford Pan F 50 ISO film emulation and gold/selenium split toning.

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Skylum Software’s Luminar 2018 Jupiter Update, Amazing Raw Convertor and Image Editor, Released

Skylum Software, the independent photography image editing and raw file processing software company, maker of the excellent Aurora HDR, Luminar and Creative Kit desktop applications, has released the Jupiter update for Luminar 2018. 

Skylum Software was formerly known as Macphun during its macOS-only days and changed its name to better reflect the fact that the company is now making its software for Windows as well as macOS.

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Luminar 2018 Jupiter contains over 300 improvements and updates to make Luminar more responsive and more useful, including significant performance enhancements to allow faster photo editing with speed gains of up to a factor of twelve.

Luminar’s Raw Develop filter has reportedly been updated for even cleaner images with better color and less noise.

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Single image view of Luminar 2018’s digital asset management (DAM) system, currently under development and due for release later in 2018.

Luminar’s long-awaited digital asset manager (DAM) functionality is scheduled for release later in 2018.

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