Adding texture and simple lighting effects in Photoshop

In part one of this three-part mini-series, I looked at filling in gaps and expanding your frame. In part two we are looking at blurring the background, adding some texture and simple lighting effects to really enhance the image further.

As mentioned in the video click this link to download a FREE copy of the Atmosphere Pack with a few different textures you can play with and keep. In part three we look at adding some Lookup Tables and gradient maps to finish off this image.

What exactly are LUTs?

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “LUT” before, but aren’t really sure what it all means. So what exactly are LUTs, especially in regard to photography?

Well, a LUT is short for a Lookup Table. It is basically a color grading tool, that takes a conversion profile that takes predefined color values and applies these to your images. In a way, it’s a little like a look or preset, but it goes further than that.

How are LUTs helpful?

A photographer can save loads of time by applying the same LUTs or collection of LUTs to their images. Instead of individual edits to your images, you can apply the same LUTs to color grade all your images. This helps give a cohesive feel to a series. In Photoshop you can even set them up as Actions.

Where can you find LUTs

In LuminarAI they are found in the Mood tool in the Creative Panel, whereas in Adobe Photoshop they are found in the Adjustment Layer section as Color Lookup.

Both programs come with some pre-installed, but you can also buy them online and add them to your software. You can even purchase a particular look from your favorite movie or TV show.

I have found that the basic LUTs that come with Photoshop are great and I can mix and match them for my needs. I must admit, I have never bought any others.

Can they be altered?

Not exactly, but you can change the blending mode and transparency of the LUTs if they are a separate layer, especially in Photoshop. You can also stack multiple LUTs to give you different looks.

Using LUTs in Luminar AI

In Edit view, scroll down to the Creative panel and select Mood. You will see a little arrow allowing for selections. Choose your favorite look and apply it.

You can preview different LUTs by hovering over the name. Then once selected you can alter amount, contrast and saturation.

Using LUTs in Photoshop

I must confess I adore using LUTs in Photoshop. In the adjustment layer, select Color Lookup, then you can select which LUT you wish to use. You do need to actually select it to see it, but they can easily be changed for another LUT.

The fact that you can add multiple LUTs on different layers, alter the blend mode and the opacity is a fantastic plus. You can even add a layer mask if you wish to. On the image above I used the Bleached Bypass LUT on Soft Light blend mode at 90%, and then the Night from Day LUT at Normal blend mode at 85%. Quick easy, and it makes such a difference.

These can be also be terrific for adding color, tone and contrast to portraits. So now you know exactly what LUTs are — consider using them in your next editing session!

Using LUTs for color, tone and contrast

A great way to add some interest to your photos is with using LUTs in Photoshop. LUTs (Lookup tables) have mostly been using for color grading film and video for years, think cinema blockbusters. They have a certain look and feel to them.

A year or so ago, Adobe added LUTs to Photoshop and frankly, I have never looked back. But don’t just pick a LUT and leave it there! You can get really creative with them.

I set all of these images to Soft Light blend mode at 25%, granted the changes are subtle, but that’s the point you can have subtle tweaks in your images or try a different blend mode and opacity for a strong look.

New Year resolutions for creatives | Day 3

I also suggest capturing personal knowledge. There’s a lot of great ideas you have, and you need to save them for those days when you’re feeling a little bit stifled, or you just want to build upon that knowledge and not have to keep going back to starting at the beginning. 

Standards & procedures

Reuse and recycle for your business standards and procedures. Write down things that are good ideas. Write down the way that you want things done so as your business grows in new people come on board, you can share with them operating procedures.

Software presets

Make presets design your own. This isn’t about buying a bunch of other people’s presets. Start to save your own great presets, and if you’re going to work with color a lot, look up tables are amazing.

LUTs for color grading

LUTs allow you to encapsulate all of your color grading for color and tone into a lot, and that lot can be used in photography and video software. Almost universally, it comes down to this. The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be. Check out this LUT generator.

Learn more about LUTS

Checkout or full-length course on LUTs and Photoshop. The first 100 people who go to the course can get it for free.

  1. Visit the class here.
  2. Click the Access Course button.
  3. Enter the code NYNEW3.
  4. Click Apply, the class should show as free if all the codes have not been redeemed.
  5. Complete your order and enjoy (no credit card is needed).

Stylizing images in ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019

I recently went out to the Muskegon Wastewater Treatment Plant, located in Muskegon, Mich. Sounds…smelly, right? Well, there was a reason for this — snowy owls are known to be spotted there. Last year, I went out with fellow Photofocus author Cathy Seaver to check them out, and we found about several of them during our time there. This year, we were excited to capture them again, especially with snow on the ground.

However, we weren’t that lucky this time around. Our search for snowy owls failed, but we did see some other great birds in the process.

The problem was, everything looked so grey and uninspiring. When you’re at a wastewater treatment plant, it’s not like they have pretty trees and clear blue water. Instead, everything is very brown, grey and just…blah.

Enter ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019.

We stumbled upon a large pack of ducks. And when I say large, I mean probably about a hundred or so. As we began looking for perspectives to shoot from, we found smaller clusters of ducks on islands sitting in the water. As I moved up to one, they started to flap their wings and fly away. Now, I’m by no means a wildlife or bird photographer, but I thought this was pretty cool to capture.

Photo out of the camera, unedited

I decided to take this and a few other photos into ACDSee, and see what I could come up with to make them a little more of a piece of art.

Black and white

This year’s ACDSee Ultimate Photo Studio release features much improved black and white tools. You can now adjust the contrast of each individual color, and specify the brightness range that the contrast adjustment will target. So, if I wanted to boost up the purple areas of my black and white image, I could do so, and then balance out the contrast for a more suitable image.

You can also add colorization to the image — allowing you to add a tint to your image — as well as adjust the brightness of the colors in your image.


The Effects panel has three areas — Photo Effect, Color Overlay and Gradient Map. Photo Effect works similarly to a LUT (look-up table), where it presents you with a preset of sorts that applies a certain effect to your image. It can change things like color and contrast, or play around with the tone curves in your image, depending on what you select. You can adjust the opacity so it can just have a subtle boost to your image, or you can crank it all the way up for something a bit more unique.

The Color Overlay tool does exactly that — it lets you put a color on top of your image. You can control the opacity here too, so it’s not shining red or blue.

Finally, the Gradient Map tool lets you determine that colors for both the shadows and highlights in your image. You can get really funky here…

Color LUTs

In the Edit screen of ACDSee, you’ll also be able to add a color LUT to your image. Similar to the Photo Effect edit in the Effects panel, this applies a custom look to your image. There are 10 LUTs included with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate, and you can import your own from literally any source.

In my image, if I add the Film LUT to my photograph, it’ll create some cooler tones along with some darker blacks.

What’s cool is that you can also selectively add a LUT, through either painting it on with the brush or by choosing a gradient. So if I only wanted to apply the Elegance LUT to the lower portion of my photograph, I can very easily do that.

Final thoughts

As you can see, the editing and stylization possibilities are endless with ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019. Between photo effects, black and white conversion and LUTs, you have a great toolset to bring a unique look to your photographs. Combined with the basic RAW editing tools, you can create something that’s truly a work of art.

Using LUTs in Aurora HDR 2019

You’ll find Aurora HDR 2019 at a special price along with a bundle of training videos, Looks, and LUTs designed for Photofocus readers, here.

The new Aurora HDR 2019 offers you many new features one of which is the ability to use LUTs in processing your photographs. In this article, I’m going to take a look at the new feature and I will be using this image with Aurora HDR 2019 initial processing on it, but I will not make any other changes. Then I will apply 9 different look up tables or LUTs to it so you can see how much variety LUTs can provide you with. Of course, once the LUT is applied, you make other changes, add layers and fine tune to your heart’s content.

For more detail about LUTs check out my article What the heck are LUTs?

Once you’ve loaded single or multiple images into Aurora HDR 2019, it does its processing and this produces an image that we use as our starting place for editing. Here’s that original image.

Original Image - Using LUTs in Aurora HDR 2019
Original Image 

To apply a LUT to this image you will use the LUT filter in Aurora HDR 2019. You’ll find the LUT Filter here on the right side in the Filters list.



The results

And this is what the photograph looks like with the LUT applied. I have included the original that for comparison. In the images that follow, I have purposely placed the LUT version above the original so you can see how much or little effect the LUT has on the original photograph. Also, remember that the amount or intensity can be increased or reduced based upon the Amount slider and that can change the look of the LUT a lot.

Adding a custom look up table (LUT)

Choosing custom LUTs

Now select the LUT you want to use with your photograph. I am going to use the 3Strip LUT from ColorGradingCentral and reduce the amount to 74. This is what the photograph looks like with the LUT applied, and below that, is the original without the LUT.

3 Strip LUT applied
3 Strip LUT from Colorgrading Central

Original Image - Using LUTs in Aurora HDR 2019
Original Image

LUT examples

Cl-Cursa from Lutify LUTs
Cl-Cursa from Lutify LUTs

Original Image
Original Image

Vision 4 – LOG from Colorgrading Central

Original Image
Original Image

Vision X - LOG from Colorgrading Central

Vision X – LOG from Colorgrading Central

Original Image
Original Image

Enhance from Colorgrading Central
Enhance from Colorgrading Central

Original Image
Original Image

CCF-Hadar from Lutify LUTs
CCF-Hadar from Lutify LUTs

Original Image
Original Image

CL-Chalawan from Lutify LUTs
CL-Chalawan from Lutify LUTs

Original Image
Original Image

Moonrise Kingdom V1 - Rec709 from Colorgrading Central
Moonrise Kingdom V1 – Rec709 from Colorgrading Central

Original Image
Original Image


I find that using LUTs in Aurora HDR 2019 is a powerful and often quick way to give me creative ideas about how to process the photograph. Most important though is to explore and have fun with it!

You’ll find LUTs here:

  • LUTs from Skylum. They offer free and paid LUTs.
  • – They offer a free sample before you purchase.
  • – They offer a free sample before you purchase.

You’ll find Aurora HDR 2019 at a special price along with a bundle of training videos, Looks, and LUTs designed for Photofocus readers, here.

How to apply haze removal tool selectively in Affinity Photo

In this article, I am going to show you how I use the masks and the Haze Tool in Affinity Photo to apply it selectively. The above panorama consists of six photographs shot with my DJI Inspire 2 drone using the X5S camera and an Olympus 12mm f/2 lens. I corrected each photograph in Capture One Pro using the Lutify LM-RAW-CL-Chiara-25 LUT and then made further adjustments.

I then exported the six photographs as 16-bit TIFF files to AutoPano Pro, stitched them together and exported the final result as a 16-bit TIFF. The next step is to take it into Affinity Photo and apply the Haze Filter using a mask so I can apply it selectively rather than to the entire image. I want to thank toltec on the Affinity Forum for their help in my understanding of this process in Affinity Photo. See the video below for how to do this.

You’ll find a trial version for Affinity Photo here.
You’ll find the Capture One Page for Lutify LUTs here.
You’ll find a trial version of Capture One Pro 11 here.

Watch the video


Now that you know how to do this with the Haze Removal tool, try it with other tools as well.

Fly safe and have fun!

A better drone photographer – Using Lutify LUTs with DJI DNG RAW files in Capture One Pro 11

In this article, I’m going to show you how I use Lutify LUTs in Capture One Pro 11 (CO 11). These LUTs will work in any software that supports LUTs like Affinity Photo, Luminar 2018, Photoshop, and Lightroom. The package you choose will determine whether it supports the RAW image for that product. Also, I contacted Lutify directly and was provided a free version of these LUTs for this review. As always, I will give you my honest review of the product.

Lutify is kindly offering a 10% discount coupon for Photofocus readers on any of their packages.
The coupon is good until the end of October.
Just use PHOTOFOCUS at checkout!
Thanks Lutify!

Free LUTs from Lutify to try out here.
You’ll find the Capture One Page for Lutify LUTs here.
You’ll find the Lutify Homepage here.

You’ll find a trial version of Capture One Pro 11 here.
Here is how you install Lutify LUTs in CO 11 on the mac here.
Here is how you install Lutify LUTs in CO 11 on windows here.
Here is how you apply Lutify LUTs in CO 11 here.

Now I have a lot of LUTs for my photography and video work and the thought of buying more didn’t cross my mind until I came across these Lutify LUTs. I downloaded the free package and after exploring them, I decided to contact Lutfiy to do a review of them.

Why? Because I really like how they look in my work. They give me the ability to quickly add a look and feel and then I am able to use that as a starting point tweaking the final result to taste. I do most of my work in Capture One Pro 11 and while I really enjoy the Phase One Style Packs, there is something special about the Lutify LUTs, that the style packs just don’t have for me, and I can combine them with the Style Packs.

How Lutify applies LUTs

Now Capture One Pro 11 doesn’t support LUTs directly, so Lutify has come up with a way that you can use their LUTs in Capture One Pro 11. What that looks like is rather than being applied as style in a layer, they replace the ICC Profile



Applying the LUTs is similar to applying Style Packs, except that rather than applying the background of the image or to a layer, they are applied as an ICC Profile, replacing whatever profile is being used, such as DNG RAW, in my case.

Applying Lutify LUTs

You apply the LUTs by selecting a photograph and going to User Styles section. You preview them by putting your cursor over each LUT and the look is displayed on the photograph you selected. Once you find one you like, you can click on it to apply it or right click on it to remove it. You will also notice (see screenshot above) that there are different percentages of the LUTs available. Since they are not able to be applied as layers in Capture One, where you can dial in any amount from 0 to 100%, Lutify came up with percentages (25%, 50%, 75%, 100%) as a way to apply a less intense versions of the LUTs to a photograph. This is where I would like more variation. I would prefer to be able to apply in 10% increments and yet I understand that this would create a lot more LUTs to have to deal with.
(Editor’s note: LUTs in Luminar can be added as a layer and are variable from 0 to 100%.)

Apply Lutify LUT to photograph

How I use them

Much of my photographic work is drone aerial panoramas consisting of from 2-5 photographs that I stitch together. The output from the DJI Inspire 2 X5S camera is DNG RAW and there is currently no camera profile for the DJI X5S, so I have to do all my editing and color grading from scratch. With Lutify LUTs, I can use them as my profile and as a starting point that I do a basic correction and the color grade. Once I have completed that, I send all the photographs to Auto Pano Pro as 16-bit tiff files, stitching them together and exporting the result as a 16-bit tiff. I then import that back into CO 11 to create the final look and feel. I find that Lutify LUTs have really added to my creativity and ability to get the look I want in the final result and much faster than doing it all by hand. The other thing I like is that there is a large selection without being overwhelming.

A note on using them – I find that even with versions at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%, I will often reduce the levels of saturation and play with the Levels tool to get the look I want and make the colors look more natural.

Some examples

Here are examples of a number of different LUTs applied to the same image.

Original DNG RAW Photograph corrected and color graded, but with no LUT applied


Same photograph with the LUTIFY LM-RAW-CL-Canes-25 LUT applied

Same photograph with the LM-RAW-MIL-Blade Runner 2049-25 LUT applied


Same photograph with the LM-RAW-AP-Alamak-50 LUT applied


Same photograph with the LM-RAW-CCF-Hydrobius-50 LUT applied


Same photograph with the LM-RAW-MIL-Sicario-1-25 LUT applied


Same photograph with the LM-RAW-BW-Baten-25 LUT applied

In this panorama, I used the LM-RAW-CL-Chiarra-25 LUT

What packages are available?

There are 3 different packages available – the Professional, Standard 3D LUTs, and Basic 3D LUTs. These are a subscription product, but you are not required to sign-up for the yearly renewal. The yearly renewal is $19.90 for continued support and updates. You can opt out of the yearly renewal when you purchase the pack. Note that If you want to use these with Capture One Pro or Lightroom, you will need to purchase the Professional package (see below).

From their website about subscriptions – Your subscription can be canceled at any time after purchase. Once canceled, your license will not renew automatically and will expire on the expiration date. Once expired, you will no longer receive updates for the 3D LUTs in your package or have access to support. You may manually renew your license at any time to reactivate your subscription.

The Professional package – this is the only package that supports Capture One Pro

  • 213 Cinematic Quality 3D LUTs
  • Support for Capture One Pro RAW,  Lightroom RAW, ON1 Photo RAW, RED IPP2
  • Price – $59
  • Yearly subscription is $19.90
  • Find it here

Standard 3D LUTs package

  • 65 Cinematic Quality 3D LUTs
  • Does not support Capture One Pro RAW,  Lightroom RAW
  • Price – $39
  • Yearly subscription is $19.90 (optional)
  • Find it here

Basic 3D LUT package

  • 35 Cinematic Quality 3D LUTs
  • Does not support Capture One Pro RAW,  Lightroom RAW
  • Price – $29
  • Yearly subscription is $19.90 (optional)
  • Find it here

Supportive and helpful

My contact at Lutify was Goran. He was very helpful and supportive. They really want you to get good results from using their product.

Closing thoughts

What I like

  • How they look in my work
  • How easy they are to use
  • The large number of LUTs for different looks
  • Relatively inexpensive for what they offer

What I’d like to see improved

  • Finer increments than 25% for Capture One users
  • Ability to work with Layers in Capture One

For me, the bottom line is how do they look and do they enhance my workflow and final results. They do this for me. I find myself using them in different ways on many of my photographs and videos. Because of that, I will continue to use them in my work. The only downside is that if you want to use them with Capture One Pro or Lightroom, you have to purchase the Professional package.

Fly safe and have fun!

Quick Tip: Boost your creativity with LUTs

Quick Tip Photography

LUTs can give your creativity a boost. Trying different LUTs with your RAW photographs can quickly give you a cool, warm or “other-worldly look,” that you fine tune from there. Not sure where to start? Check out this article here, on the basics of using LUTs with your photographs and some of the programs that use them.

Here’s an example of a panorama from one of my drone projects using an Alternative Process LUT from Lutify LUTS in Capture One Pro.


With LUT applied

What the heck are LUTs?

What are LUTs?

Do you know what a LUT is? You may not unless you have worked with video editing and color grading. LUT stands for Look Up Table. A LUT is a file that transforms one range of colors in an image to another range of colors. Traditionally they have been used in the film industry to give films a unique look and feel. Terms like Blockbuster look or 3 Stripe look are often used to describe them. More recently though, LUTs are being used in photography. I think of LUTs as a filter. For me, they are another creative tool I can use to enhance my photographs. They help me create a unique look and feel in my images. LUTs really work best when working with RAW images rather than jpg’s, but this is an area you can explore.

What do LUTs do?

When you apply a LUT to your image it will change both the color and tone curves of the image based on how the LUT was created. Here is an example of before the LUT and after the LUT is applied. The left side is before applying the LUT and the right side is after applying a LUT. This LUT was a filmic style LUT from (see the end of the article for links).

Two basic types of LUTs

In the world of LUTs, there are two basic types, technical LUTs, and creative LUTs. Technical LUTs are typically used with video style cameras that shoot in what is called LOG. The technical LUT is applied and give the color editor a starting place for their color grade. The creative LUT is most often used after the application of a technical LUT or as a way to apply a specific look and feel to the image. I use creative LUTs most often with photographs.

How do I use them?

When I use LUTs in photography I will typically make all the basic adjustments to the photograph and then apply the LUT and then refine the settings. That being said I also start with a LUT and then adjust all the settings. I also experiment with both technical and creative LUTs and sometimes combine them. There are no rules here. Be creative and explore!

In most photography programs that use LUTs, they are applied as a filter and/or layer. To uses the LUTs you will have them stored in a folder. You will apply the LUT Tool or Layer, select the LUT and then adjust the strength of the LUT. The strength setting lets you apply as much or as little, of the look of the LUT, to the image as you desire.

Programs that use LUTs?

Here are a few programs that use LUTs.

  • Luminar 2018 – see how to use LUTs in Luminar 2018 with DJI RAW – click here
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Affinity Photo
  • Adobe Lightroom

Where can I get some?

If you do an internet search for LUTs, you will find a large selection. Some are free and some are paid. Some of them are good, some aren’t. The best approach is to try before you buy. Most LUT developers offer one or more of their LUTs for you to try. Here some options for you that I have used, to get you started.

  • –They offer a free sample before you purchase.
  • Luminar 2018 has LUTs that come with the program. They also allow you to purchase more LUTs from within the program. Get Luminar 2018 – click here.
  • – They offer a free sample before you purchase.

Creating LUTs for Premiere Pro in Photoshop

LUTs or Look Up Tables are a great way to add a constant colour theme to your footage in Premiere Pro. If you’re already familiar with Photoshop then it may be easier for you to do the colour work in Photoshop and then import it to Premiere, in this vide I’ll show you how.


In this video I cover;

  • Opening Lumetri
  • Using LUTs in Premiere Pro
  • Using LUTs in Photoshop
  • Creating LUTs in Photoshop
  • Importing LUTs into Premiere Pro
  • Adding a LUT to a single or multiple clips in a sequence.