AI is coming for serious photo editing, not just smartphone snapshots

Skylum Luminar Neo brings new artificial intelligence tools to beautify your photos.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Software maker Skylum on Thursday released a new version of its Luminar Neo photo-editing tool that uses artificial intelligence to handle what were previously mundane but time-consuming tasks.

Luminar Neo can automatically remove power lines in the background or erase dark spots caused by dust on your camera’s image sensor. It can also create a depth map that allows you to apply changes to scene elements based on whether they are in the foreground, mid-range, or background.

The software’s new AI tools, which have been trained with real-world data, are an example of tasks beyond the reach of traditional data-processing algorithms. AI technology, which uses techniques based on the human brain, is widely used to beautify smartphone shots. Luminar Neo, however, also shows the spread of these approaches to heavy computing tools.

Skylum has brought AI to the fore with its Luminar software, which is designed to allow photographers to quickly brighten up their shots without too much fiddling. That’s no guarantee it’ll stay ahead of Adobe, the 800-pound gorilla of photo editing.

Luminar added a feature called AI Sky Enhancer in 2019 that lets photographers quickly select the sky, a part of the scene that people often want to edit for color and brightness. from Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop have their own AI-powered sky selection feature in 2021. Adobe apps can also use AI to select subjects and increase photo resolution.

Expect more AI as it matures in the IT industry. Apple’s M1 processors bring dedicated AI acceleration circuits to Macs, which both Luminar and Adobe software use. On Windows, Luminar leverages Intel’s OpenVino software to bring AI software to its processors, Skylum said.

Luminar Neo, a sequel to the previous Luminar software, costs $79 and runs on Windows and Mac machines.

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