Saturday, December 23, 2023

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Expand More Than Your Waistline This Holiday Season!

The third generative AI tool for Luminar Neo, GenExpand, released just a few hours ago. It is available for all subscribers (and Lifetime owners who have purchased the Creative Journey Pass) as update 1.17.0.  If you don't have the CJP, or worse yet, you haven't purchased Luminar Neo at all (!), there will be good news at the end of this post!

So, what does GenExpand do. Let's look at a very simple example. Here's a picture I took a few years ago in Silver City. We were just wandering town "walking and shooting" as the saying goes. I wasn't spending a lot of time worrying about the "rule of thirds" and other compositional dogma.. so, when I checked it out later, I put it in the discard category.

Now, with GenExpand available, I took a look at it with "new eyes". I wanted some more space at the top of the image, and I definitely wanted the whole bumper in the shot, too. Into Luminar Neo the image went:

To expand the image, simply "grab" the edge you want expand, (below) and uh, expand it. They recommend working one edge at a time.  I was just looking for a complete bumper, but you can request anything in the expanded area: Like maybe, "hit and run victim face-down under vehicle bumper" ? Hey, you do you. 

As with the previous generative tools, an internet connection is required. So after you select your expanded area, and hit "Expand", you'll have to wait a few (or several) minutes until your result comes back. Like it? Hit "Save". Not what you were looking for? Hit "Expand" again. I was extremely happy the first time, and was particularly impressed that it included the rust and corrosion from the original, and the reflection of the pavement! So, I hit "Save", and completed the rest of my editing until I had an image ready for Instagram (or printing... or whatever). And there it is: ๐Ÿ‘‡

Silver City Dodge-em Cars ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

I've grabbed a couple, more extensive examples from the Skylum marketing Dropbox, which will give you a better idea of what GenExpand is capable of. And I'll continue to play with it and when I get something super-duper, you'll be the first to see it!

So, basically, the folks at Skylum are feeling in a holiday giving mood, and they've brought back the Black Friday/Cyber Week promotion for another 10 days, beginning tomorrow, December 15 at 7:00AM EST and ending December 26, 7:00AM EST.  Try it risk free... click this link!

New Users will get:
  • 12 Months Pro Subscription + Holiday Assets Collection    $49 ($479 value)
  • 24 Months Pro Subscription + Holiday Assets Collection    $119 ($659 value)
  • Lifetime w/Extensions &CJP + Holiday Assets Collection   $149 ($998 value   
And, as always, save an additional 10%  with coupon code PHOTODAN at checkout. 


Friday, November 17, 2023

Playing All Up In My Head. And....

The latest update to Luminar Neo (v.1.16.0) which includes GenSwap, dropped yesterday morning. I didn't install it until late, so I haven't had a chance to play with the final version yet, but I have been trying some wacky shit with the beta.  Some of my projects follow, and all will include the starting image.

Be sure to stay till the end, where I'll lay out all the deets on Luminar's Black Friday promo which starts TODAY!
Stunt Plane, Las Cruces NM ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site/GenerativeAI

Highlands Pursuit ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site/GenerativeAI


Enough with the fanciful creations. It's time to get to the meat of this post- the Black Friday promotion, which actually began at 7AM EST this morning,  but you've still got more than a week, and to make the details crystal clear, I've created this handy, dandy chart: 

You've got questions; of course you do. So do I. Firstly, what the heck is the "Creative Assets Collection", and why the heck is it worth so much? In a nutshell, it's a mammoth collection of presets, sky replacements, textures, backgrounds, LUTs (Lookup Tables, for color grading cinematic effects), and possibly (but unconfirmed) some tutorials from well respected international photographers. Stuff like that. When I get more details, I'll edit this post, but basically you're getting items that sell for $20 and up each, for free when you purchase Luminar Neo.

You might also question what's the best deal for you? From a purely economical standpoint it's the 24 month subscription for both new users ($119 - less than 10 bucks a month), and for current Lifetime owners ($99 which works out to $8.25/mo.. they really want to convert those Lifetime guys to the subscription model, right?).

And I don't want you to forget, that your purchase is completely risk-free. Buy it, try it for 30 days. If it ain't your cup of tea, you get your money back. But right now is the best time ever to spend as little as possible to get back in the unlikely eveny you're unsatisfied. I think you'll love it as much as I do. So easy, so intuitive.

Even if you don't find it easy, or intuitive, and I've failed to mention this in previous posts, I'll be here for you. Whenever you have questions, you need only message me on either my Shot On Site Facebook page, or my personal Facebook page. I might even, in the future when I've got a big enough number of Luminar Neo customers, start doing actual tutorials, via Zoom or similar platforms, covering any and all facets of the program. Sound like fun? Hit the link! (and mind the fine print below๐Ÿ˜)

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.


Monday, November 13, 2023

Alternate Reality Using Generative AI.


So, here I am, dressed h̶e̶a̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶t̶o̶e̶, neck to shins in workout gear from Baleaf, except for the Global Cycling Network
headband, and socks from Thorlo, the most comfortable socks you will ever wear (I've been wearing them since 2000! -not the same pair, of course- Click that link☝ and save $15 off your first order of $25+). And the shoes are Dr Comfort, (courtesy of the Veterans Healthcare System and taxpayers like you... and me).  

And now, suppose I was a Baleaf affiliate (I am) and wanted to make a blog post featuring the long-sleeve base layer, thermal tights, and (not visible), sustainable 9" base layer half-tights... w/fly!.

Well, if that were what I wanted to do, I'd probably set up my cell phone in the dining/living/workout room and take a selfie, maybe leaning on a piece of workout equipment (like the Total Gym here). I would then look at the resulting image, gag a bit, and think, "well, that's unacceptable".

But guess what (you knew there'd be a "guess what", right?). Many of you have probably played around with the AI programs like ChatGPT which can take your requests or suggestions or queries and return your senior class history final essay in a matter of seconds. Well, Luminar Neo, this coming Thursday (November 16) will release it's next generative AI editing tool called GenSwap. Actually, it's more of a "creation tool" than an editing tool.

It will come as no surprise to you that I've been privy to a beta version. I can tell you it is much more ready for prime time than GenErase (which Skylum developers promise will be much improved with the Thursday update!).

How does it work? Pretty simple, as illustrated by the screen shot here. The interface is similar to GenErase with Select and Deselect buttons, a brush size slider, and most importantly, that long empty

box just below the image that says, "what do you envision here?".  You tell it what you envision, in nouns and adjectives, and (this is important) without verbs. I can't remember word for word what I envisioned for this image, but it was something along the lines of "spacious patio, large backyard, autumn colored trees".  Pressed the "SWAP" button, and waited while the image went to the cloud where the magic happens, and returned with this:

I did a middling amount of editing to finish this off, (like adding the sunrays... cool, huh?). Some elements needed removing with the erase tools, but in the end the results were quite satisfying.

"Work" out of the way, it was time to just play! I wanted to just have some fun with the tool, so I selected a Ford Model A coupe with a vintage teardrop trailer that I shot at a local air show a few weeks ago, thinking it had some potential. I selected everything but the car, trailer, and the foreground pavement, and requested: "Yosemite National Park, 1932"

©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

And here is the result.  I had to remove a one-legged person from the right-hand side, and crop out the oddly configured front of the background vehicle. Also, the car retained its yellow color, while the AI generated background was black and white, because duh, 1932. That was easy to fix. You might also notice there might be two Half Domes in the left background, so that would be, what, Full Dome? To complete the vintage look, I added a crinkled paper overlay, and a sepia LUT.  Would make a fun post card, right?

©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

So, until Thursday I'll continue to play with the beta version of GenSwap, and if I come up with some more fun creations, I'll probably put them in another post.  If you want to have fun with your editing and creating there are two ways you can get the latest tools. If you're already a Luminar Neo subscriber, you will receive GenSwap in the Thursday update, just like you've received all the latest tools previously. If you have a "Lifetime" version, you'll need to purchase the Creative Journey Pass which will give you all the updates for the next year. And never never never forget to use the coupon code: PHOTODAN at checkout to save additional 10%

If you have more patience, you might be rewarded if you wait till the Black Friday promo begins. Skylum promises the best prices of the whole year! Patience, my friends. Whatever you choose, this link will take you to the Luminar Neo website where you can shop to your heart's desire.

And in case you missed them, there were a bunch of other links at the top of this post, for Thorlo socks, ($15 off), and Baleaf active-wear, with 10% off coupon code: DANIELRGAUSS. Be sure to check them out, too!

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.


Friday, November 10, 2023

Big Doin's Coming Monday Morning. (But Today Ain't Too Shabby, Either!)

 Monday morning at 11am EST, I'll be premiering the next big generative AI tool from Luminar Neo. Until then I can only tell you that it will include the Witness Protection Program  photo to the right, here. ๐Ÿ‘‰

Today, all I can offer you is 30% off on any purchase from Luminar...  Luminar Neo subscriptions, Luminar Lifetime, Creative Journey Pass, and thousands of creative assets from the Luminar Marketplace. So, in essence, "site-wide". Just use this link to go to the Luminar website, and  my special coupon code, GEN30 at checkout.

**This exclusive offer only runs from November 10, 3am EST to 3am EST Monday, November 13. So don't miss it!**

(But if you do miss it, well, there's always Black Friday. I'm sure something will be happening then, dont'cha think?)

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Not Ready For Prime Time? Luminar Neo GenErase; You Be The Judge

"GenErase: next-generation Erase tool that not only removes unwanted distractions from your images, but also intelligently replaces those areas using content-aware AI tools, providing a focused and distraction-free composition. This feature preserves the integrity of your photos by filling in the gaps with textures and other elements using AI to match the surrounding area. GenErase can seamlessly remove objects such as trash, street signs, utility poles, vehicles, graffiti, crowds, and more to preserve the beauty of the composition."

The above description is from the October 20 press release from Skylum Software, makers of Luminar Neo, and describes how the new GenErase generative AI tool performs.

I've been fortunate enough to have access to a beta version of the tool, and some images from Skylum to play with, as well as some of my own images from a local air show this past weekend. (People just can't stop walking into my pictures! A perfect test).

The image above was supplied by Skylum. The boat in the foreground is obviously a distraction. The next image shows the tool UI. Fairly simple, you have a "Select", "De-select", and "Erase" tool which is pretty self explanatory. Select the items you want to remove, De-select if you get a little sloppy, and Erase when you're ready to send your image to the Cloud where all the heavy lifting is done. Depending on your internet (required!) speed and strength, the resulting image will show up in the Generative Creations folder (created when you first use the tool) in a few seconds, or a few minutes. Mine were running about 2 minutes because my internet sucks๐Ÿ˜ Below is the resulting "GenErased" image. (On a subsequent use, I got rid of all the little buoys in the background). Looks very good. Click to enlarge, and you won't see the telltale repeating elements you sometimes get with clone and stamp, or the basic Luminar Neo erase tool. Because it's a simple task in this case. Challenge it, and it seems to struggle a bit. (But I do remind myself, this is a beta copy, and the Skylum folks do a pretty good job of  fixing all the bugs when the official releases roll around.)  Below, I'll show you one of my air show results, and will then close with some comedy. Or, Halloween horror. I haven't decided yet.

Okay. I said it was an air show, and it was, but you know I can never resist a car shot. PhotoBro Dale had to lean in a little too close to this gorgeous 1937 Studebaker. Guy walking up in the background annoyed me as well. They had to go. 

If you look at the background-left of the resulting image (middle), you can see some weirdly warped artifacts created by the AI. Not too awful, because 1) I was going to use the blur tool on the background, and 2) I was going to crop it. (bottom)

I also just realized that tiny rectangle on the rear fender is not part of the car, as I originally thought, but it probably an artifact from that background dude's shoe. No problem, it can be removed easily with the standard erase tool.

Now, read on for a hilariously scary result...

So, back story: A couple of months ago a long time friend of mine  messaged me and asked what was wrong with Luminar Neo erase tool. He'd been given a picture by a family friend of herself, a deputy, and a third person who was not identified. The deputy (personal bodyguard) was between the two women. She wanted the bodyguard removed from the picture. He'd been trying to use the erase tool. I told him this might be best fixed with a new generative AI tool coming in the Fall, or clone and stamp. He sent me the picture, (with the third person- a celebrity- cropped out. You can just see the edge of her jacket, extreme left corner.) I got the process started with clone and stamp with some success. I think he finished it and was generally satisfied. (I have obscured the faces to protect the identities... handy tool that Blur tool!)

Fast forward to last week when I downloaded the beta version of GenErase, and thought, let's see if I was right. Could I remove the cop? I was very meticulous with the Select brush, carefully avoiding any part of the other subjects in the image, said "here goes", and pressed Erase, thinking how I would crow to my friend how awesome GenErase was going to be.

First my jaw dropped as I stared dumbfounded at the resulting image. I could make no sense out of the content the AI created from presumably whole cloth.

Then I started to laugh, because it was so ludicrous. Finally, my laughter became hysterical as I became ready to swear allegiance to our AI robot overlords, because if it can summon denizens from the Multiverse of Madness to populate our photos, then there is no hope for us and we are doomed!

Just look:

Whaaaaat? Let's just say, I was expecting a completely different result and leave it at that.

Anyway, GenErase is scheduled to go launch on October 26th. It will be available to all subscribers and Creative Journey Pass owners. If you are neither of those, and you want access to all the goodies and tools included in the current version of Luminar Neo, and those to come for the next 12 months just follow this link, and between 7AM (EST)October 28 and  7AM (EST) November 2, save 31% off any purchase at Skylum with the code: NEO31OFF

Trust me when I say, GenErase  will improve with use, because that's how AI works, and all the currently existing tools are well worth the time you'll save, and the images you'll create versus many of the other players out there. Give it a try, RISK FREE!

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Update Extra! Train Time!

Update to Luminar Neo v. 1.14.0 arrived yesterday, so if you're on one of the subscription options you'll have the new Neon & Glow tool, as well as the addition of Tilt/Shift to the Blur tool as soon as you install the update.

Big Boy On Acid (Neon & Glow) ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

Durango & Silverton RR (tilt/shift blur) ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

If you're an existing Lifetime owner, you'll need to purchase the Creative Journey Pass to have access to these updates, and all the extensions and tools to come from now until next Summer! Your other option, of course, is to upgrade to one of several subscription models here.  Remember, there's a bunch of really cool stuff coming, as I wrote about in the previous post.

Don't forget, you can save 10% off whatever you purchase with the discount code: PHOTODAN

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Coming Attractions!

Sherri M. ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site
The fine folks at Skylum Software, the makers of Luminar Neo are poised to virtually bust a nut with new features this Autumn. The first of these is the already released Studio Light tool, which I've already featured here a couple of weeks back.  I've spent some more time with it, and have refined my technique a little, getting familiar with some of the options. Here's an example from a model shoot we had at the local photo club several years ago, and displays the use of some of the light patterns available. This isn't a tool I anticipate using a lot until it's (hopefully) available for more than human portraits.

Now suppose I was an accomplished graphic artist (I'm not) and I wanted to add some punch to use this already well polished image in, say, some magazine ad copy?(Dream on, Dan).  That's where the Skylum pipeline is ready to shoot out the next new tool. It's called Neon & Glow, and I'm fortunate enough to have been supplied an advance beta copy, to play around with, evaluate, and publicize here. And since there's no embargo on info for this particular tool, I can show you right now.

I must admit, I struggled a bit getting familiar with the sliders and buttons, and how to structure a work flow. I watched a few YouTube videos by some of the Luminar brand ambassadors, and that helped. The first effort started out slowly, while I just threw commands and adjustments and different neon and glow colors at it. I also added several other layers from other tools, and frankly made a mess of it until suddenly it looked like a finished product. Happy accident, but that's the fun of Luminar Neo:

"Flashing Ann Arbor" ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

Funny anecdote here.. these kinds of edits are not everyone's cup of tea, as my friend Bob will attest. I sent this to him, and his reply verbatim: "Cool, art but not photography.  You did that in the computer not in the camera in the field."  Of course, feeling quite contrary, I countered with: "It all begins as photography.  45 years ago, in this case."  What I meant, of course, is that it always begins with a photograph, and this particular photograph is about 45 years old. But I stand by the larger point here, as well.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. You want to see what I did to bring some pop-sizzle-bang to that photo club shot. Well here you go. This includes Neon and Glow, and one of the native Luminar Neo layers in the Flares collection. Oh yeah, see the sparkles? They're part of the Glow tool.  I like it, and I hope Sherri M. likes it, too (if she sees it!).

Neon Sherri M. ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

So, you've read all the way down here, waiting for the really big Fall news, right? Here you go. Over the next few months, Skylum will by launching several Generative AI tools, which you can get a brief summary of in this press release from August! 

Time to throw some bullet points, samples, and short summaries (lifted from the press release in case, you know, you're too lazy to click the link above).
  • GenErase: A next-generation Erase tool that not only removes unwanted distractions from your images butalso replaces those areas using content-aware tools, providing a focused and distraction-free composition.This feature preserves the integrity of your photos by intelligently filling in the gaps with textures and otherelements to match the surrounding area. GenErase can seamlessly remove objects like trash, street signs,vehicles, graffiti, and more to preserve the beauty of the composition.
  • SceneExpand: This tool enables users to extend the boundaries of their photos, adding a new dimension tooriginal compositions. Whether creating panoramic landscapes or adding breathing room to favorite images,SceneExpand offers the ability to break free from traditional aspect ratios and unlock new creative possibilities
  • SceneSwap: Lets users replace specific elements (such as the sky or foreground) with high-quality AI-generated visuals that blend seamlessly with the rest of the photo. Imagine a stunning sunset replacing thedull, overcast sky or crystal-clear azure waters instead of a murky pond in your photo
  • Water Enhancer: Designed to enhance water features in aquatic scenes, giving landscape photos greatervisual impact
The first three items are the biggies, and the ones causing some consternation, because unlike all previous tools and extensions available, GenErase, SceneExpand, and SceneSwap will require the user to have an active internet connection. Unless you own, oh I don't know, and IBM Watson supercomputer, you'll need a whole lot more computing power than you've probably got. Skylum will use a massive server farm to help you do these edits in a timely fashion. When you see the examples below, you may see why I think this is a reasonable requirement.  So here they are.


Water Enhancer

Exciting stuff. And if you're lucky enough to be on the Luminar Neo Subscription model, you need do nothing. These will be included in regular updates.  If you own a copy of Luminar Neo, you'll have options to buy these tools either in your account at the Luminar Neo website, or through clicking on the puzzle icon on the upper right of the app.  Or there's another option: you can purchase the Creative Journey Pass for $79 and you'll get all the new goodies, and any still unannounced extensions or tool through August of 2024. Hell of a deal!  And, as always, use PHOTODAN at checkout to save 10%!

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.


Friday, September 15, 2023

I Gotta Show You This!

The most recent update of Luminar Neo had a surprise inside! All the hoopla preceding it was about      Studio Light. (Read about that here).  When it arrived it had another new tool; one that I had been quietly wishing existed. Wish fulfilled.  Let me show you.

This screen grab shows a folder of images I took 21 years ago, on a boat tour of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  As you can see from the details box inset, this was taken at a shutter speed of 1/500th second. I can tell you it was also taken from a moving boat. In mid day.

Now just supposing I would have preferred taking a long exposure shot. At sunset.  Well, for starters, I'd need to be set up on a tripod. On firm ground. You can immediately see that I'd have to be in the water, not on a boat. Water that was probably over 20' deep where the boat was. I'd be out of luck.

Or would I? 

Maybe back then I would've been. But not now. What was the surprise tool in the latest update? One that I will be much more likely to use than the Studio Light tool. It's the Blur Tool! It gives you options for Motion blur, Twisted blur (a fun one to be sure), and my personal favorite, for some reason, Gaussian blur. Hello grandpa (not reallty).

So when I discovered the Blur tool, I knew I had to play around with it. What did I do first? I wasn't sure how to use Gaussian blur, and I couldn't think offhand of any images in my files to use the Twisted blur. But Motion blur? Oh yeah, as a photographer of the fastest running hounds on the planet, I had lots of images to choose from. But in the end, I just picked the first promising picture I came across. A shot I just grabbed while walking back from the Smokin' Oldies car show last spring. A ratrod, or more accurately I guess, a rat-jeep of sorts. It was crossing the intersection and that was all I needed.

Some judicious masking, a few basic color edits, and we've got us a jeep making the jump to hyperspace. (or just accelerating through a red light)

©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

So now we come to the image selected at the top of this page. I want to fake a long exposure shot where non actually existed. Again, it was Motion blur to the rescue, along with many, many other tools I like to play with. Sky replacement for one. If I wanted a sunset look I needed a different sky. I prefer to use my own skies for most images, but I think this might be one I got from Luminar. Whatever, it's the perfect sky to match the sunset light I created. 

Pictured Rocks, ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

I used MaskAI to select out the water, then the smoothing was done in two parts. First I reduced the structure to nearly zero, but to finally get the flat water look I used Motion blur setting of almost 100.

And clouds move during a several minute exposure, too, don't they? So MaskAI also selects out the sky, and with a combination of the defocus tool in SkyAI, and Motion blur I got the sky right where I wanted it. 

The final step was the trees. I'm surprised I even thought of it, but the leaves don't sit still over a 2 or 3 minute interval, either. They just required the minutest hint of Gaussian blur. You probably wouldn't even notice it if I didn't tell you. 

Contrasting all the moving parts (artificial, though they are) with the crisp sharpness of the unmoveable rock, and we've got us a pretty compelling photo, if I do say so myself.

And what about Twist blur? Glad you asked. I finally found a use for it. See if you can spot it.

Cactus Ernie ©Daniel Gauss/Shot On Site

Surprisingly, Skylum/Luminar Neo don't have any promotions going on right now, but you can still save a whopping 10% if you decide to make a risk free purchase. Just use the code: PHOTODAN at check out. You can reach their website

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, I may receive a small commission at no increased cost to you. Thanks.