Just last Friday, I was tasked with capturing Movies on Monroe, a series of events hosted by one of my regular clients, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. The event starts early evening and goes until it’s dark outside. It showcases two movies.

So you can imagine that sometimes, depending on the weather, lighting can get a little tricky as it’s constantly changing.

To get around this, I often take my wider angle shots of the crowd as a bracketed series. This allows me to capture the sky in an appealing light and also makes sure that the crowd isn’t overrun by shadows.

I use Lightroom Classic to manage my images, so using the built-in HDR tool allows me to get images processed quickly. I usually take a five-bracketed series and leave out the darkest frame when putting together the HDR, as I find it’s often too dark for the crowd.

The downside to that is usually the sky doesn’t have much depth, the people are dark and the image as a whole needs a bit more “oomph.”

Finishing photos with Luminar Flex

Enter Luminar Flex. Since the 1.1 update released last week, I’ve been loving having this as a part of my workflow for these types of images. It helps me really finish my images quickly and easily, making it perfect for event photographers who are always on deadline.

After I complete my basic adjustments in the Develop module, I use the Accent AI 2.0 and AI Sky Enhancer filters in Luminar Flex. This helps me add some depth into the sky, and also lift some of the shadows in the crowd. It also provides some contrast to the overall image.

Sometimes I’ll also apply the Golden Hour filter at a low amount to bring some of those colors into play. As an event photographer, it’s important to not change the “feel” of a photograph, and with the movie screen constantly changing, it always gives off a color hue to the photograph that I don’t want to take away. In this instance, I gave the Golden Hour filter a negative saturation amount, in order to help balance the photograph. It’s still clearly showing something red or pink on the screen though.

This technique is also great when it’s completely dark outside, in order to make sure that people are visible in your photos. With this wide-angle view, taken from the vendor and entertainment area of the event, it’s clear that it’s dark outside, but you can still see all the activity with people back in that space clearly.

Using the machine learning tools that Luminar Flex provides, I’m able to take my wide-angle event photos to the next level. And with the increased speed and new Accent AI 2.0 filter, it’s become a tool that I’m relying on more and more, in tandem with Lightroom Classic.

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