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It’s not uncommon for me to sit down at my computer with a memory card full of images and stare blankly at my ever-growing Lightroom catalog while my mind reels at the thought of editing each and every one of them. Many photographers have experienced this phenomenon and there are certainly some good methods of dealing with it such as using Presets in Lightroom, syncing edits across multiple photos, or even just copying and pasting a series of edits from one image to the next and then tweaking as you go.
Other programs offer similar tools for processing multiple images at once, but the Achilles Heel of this type of workflow is that the edits are often static in nature. You can choose from a predetermined set of values (e.g. Clarity +10, Saturation +5, Highlights -20, etc.) and then apply that to many images at one time. But what if some of your images require subtle changes to those parameters?
Lightroom and just about every image editor I have ever used for batch processing won’t tweak your editing parameters if a picture needs a little extra contrast boost or exposure adjustment. That’s where Luminar is different, and its unique Accent AI filter combined with the program’s built-in batch processing offers a great way for you to significantly speed up your workflow while producing outstanding images for yourself, your clients, or your fans on social media.
The Accent AI filter is new in Luminar Neptune, an update to Luminar that was released this summer. It works by using artificial intelligence to analyze your image and make adjustments depending on where it thinks the picture needs it most. Accent AI isn’t just a predetermined set of adjustments, but a series of tweaks and edits applied dynamically to the image, all controlled by a single slider that lets you control the overall intensity of the filter.
When I edit my images in Lightroom I often start with a custom preset that includes many alterations such as sharpness, highlights, shadows, tone curve, etc., and then adjust those on a per-image basis according to how I want them to be fine-tuned. It’s the latter part of that process which becomes tedious, and it’s precisely where the usefulness of the Accent AI filter really starts to show.
If Luminar thinks that an image might benefit from lowering the highlights, increasing shadow detail, altering the exposure, or any number of other editing parameters then it adjusts all of these at once instead of forcing you to edit individual sliders and change numerical values.
Another example of the effectiveness of the Accent AI filter is this image of the Seattle skyline I took from the Sky View Observatory at the top of the Columbia Center Tower. I spent a lot of time using the various sliders in Lightroom to try to get a decent final result. But when opened the same picture in Luminar and used the Accent AI filter, I got a great finished photo in a matter of seconds.
The Luminar version is so good I like it even better than the results I got from manually tweaking all sorts of sliders in Lightroom, and it literally took less than 10 seconds with the single Accent AI slider.
Accent AI can also be used in combination with other filters in Luminar to enhance your images even more. You can get just the right combination of editing parameters to make your photos shine. I often use the Accent AI Filter as a starting point, usually adjusting the value to between 60 and 80, and then apply other edits as I need them like Vignette, Dehaze, or Soft Focus.
But the real power of Accent AI lies in how it can be used for batch processing wherein it can dramatically speed up and enhance the results of your photo editing workflow.
In order to use Accent AI for batch processing you must first create a preset, since you can’t just apply individual filters when going through a batch of images. Your mileage may vary but I’ve found that a good place to start when working with this type of operation is a value of 75. Set that, then click the icon third from the left (circled in red on the screenshot) and give your Preset a name, but make sure it’s descriptive like “Accent AI 75”.
Presets can contain as many filters as you like. I have create several for different types of images including: landscape, close-up, portraits, etc. All of them include the Accent AI filter and a combination of other filters in order to get the right look. The heavy lifting is done with the Accent AI filter, though. So I have a few different presets created with just that one filter set to different values like 60, 80, and 100 so I can quickly apply a single Accent AI adjustment to multiple images at once.
Since the Accent AI filter examines each image individually and edits them based on where it thinks they need to be altered, I can generally trust it to give me good results and often don’t even need to use any other adjustments or filters.
Another way to approach batch processing with Accent AI is to open a single image from a collection of similar photos, apply the filter just as much as you want for that specific image, and then save that value as its own unique Preset. Then enter the Batch Processing mode and apply that Preset to all of your images at once.
The major difference between using the Accent AI Filter in Luminar and syncing (or copy/pasting) edits in Lightroom is that Accent AI works dynamically to apply adjustments where they are needed. So each picture is edited individually rather than having all the same edits applied to all of them at once. That makes it ideally suited for batch processing in a way that is a step above what Lightroom and other programs have to offer. I’m not all that comfortable with applying a single preset in Lightroom to many pictures at once without then going through and tweaking all of them. But I’ve learned to trust the Accent AI Filter in Luminar and I’m quite pleased with its results.
Once your preset is created, click the multi-file icon in the top-left of the Luminar interface to enter Batch Processing mode. Here you can set a variety of options such as export location, image format and quality, resizing, renaming, and more.
In the example above I have loaded the Accent AI 75 Percent preset and ran a batch process on 50 photos of a cicada bug. Luminar processed all of them in about the amount of time it would have taken me to edit a single image in Lightroom.
As good as the Accent AI filter is for batch processing, it does have some important limitations that you should be aware of. I have found that it works best for nature, landscape, and architecture photography and generally prefer its results in those types of situations over portraits.
That’s not to say it isn’t useful for portraits, just that I’m a bit overly picky and tend to obsess over small details that even the advanced artificial intelligence in the filter can’t quite match. Also there can be a tendency to apply it a little too much, especially when you first start using it. My advice would be to hold back a bit to a value of 40 or 50, especially when batch processing. Sliding the filter all the way to the right can sometimes result in photos that look a little too over-edited and fake, so it might be best to start small and then find how you like to use it over time.
Even if you don’t like the idea of trusting a computer to edit your photos for you, I would encourage you to at least give the Accent AI filter inside Luminar a try. Use it in combination with a couple other filters and see how it could save you a great deal of time, especially with batch processing or generating proofs for clients. You might be surprised at how much you like it.
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