New OS X Tools for Photographers

These apps make creating the perfect image a whole lot easier


If you’re into photography you’ll probably have tried all sorts of software tools in the quest for the perfect image. Over the years my favorite apps for managing, tweaking, and massaging images have been Adobe Lightroom and, when I want very specific results, Adobe Photoshop. The problem that I have had with Photoshop, in common with many other people, is that getting really good at correcting problems takes a lot of time and experience; Photoshop is not only complex but its features are so remarkably broad that photo editing becomes death by choices.

Recently I’ve come across some software titles for OS X (macOS … whatever) that makes much of the power of Photoshop available in what you might consider pre-packaged forms for very reasonable prices. And, as we will see, some of the apps also operate as Photoshop plug-ins making serious photo editing easier.  

The photo I’ve used in all but the last review is a somewhat washed-out one I took of a sign at the junction of Marina Drive and West Access Road in the incredibly weird area near to the Salton Sea Yacht Club where time and weather have taken their toll. Here’s the original:

photo 0 Mark Gibbs


Currently available for $59, Luminar is a brilliant Swiss Army-style knife of image tweaking. In fact, Luminar is very Photoshop-like but arguably easier to use. The app imports all standard image types including RAW and provides scores of presets. If you want more control,  Luminar includes over 300 tools and features so you can tweak the parameters to change tone, saturation, radiance, and so on. There’s also the ability to remove objects from a scene (the app makes impressive guesses as it what might be behind a removed object; it’s particularly good with skyscapes). The latest version also includes Touch Bar support.

photo 2 Mark Gibb



If you want to reimagine landscapes by changing sky effects, lighting, fog, and other attributes of a photo, you need LandscapePro. You start by tagging areas such the sky, trees, grass, etc., then set overall effects or select effects that apply to just one of the tagged areas. Used with restraint, LandscapePro can subtly re-engineer a photograph’s mood while cutting loose with effects lets you create landscapes that never were. LandscapePro is currently priced at $39.95 and LandscapePro Studio, which adds RAW support, support for other color spaces and also runs as a  Photoshop plug-in, costs $59.95. This is a must have for designers, landscape and realty photographers, and artists.

photo 3 Mark Gibbs


Photolemur, for the extremely reasonable price of $29, is frankly amazing. The company claims it to be AI-based and that it recognizes faces, vegetation, sky, water, etc., and detects, corrects, and enhances attributes such as noise, exposure, and tint and can even level the horizon if necessary. You simply select a photo (standard images formats as well as RAW formats for more than 800 cameras are supported) and Photolemur works its magic. All you have to control is where in the range from realistic to vivid you want the processing to be. As you can see below, I’ve lined up the original, followed by the control pushed all the way to Realistic, then between the extremes, and finally all the way to Vivid. This is a great tool for any photographer.

photo 1 Mark Gibbs


If you photograph people, you’ll love PortraitPro. This app understands the shapes of faces and the tweaks that make people more beautiful, more handsome, more whatever you need. It’s a photo editor and a smart airbrush combined. It starts by looking for facial features and marking them (you can make corrections to improve accuracy). You then choose overall and specific facial feature enhancements, including adding makeup (!) and, voila! Even I can be made to look good. Well, better. PortraitPro comes in three editions: Standard (currently $39.95), Studio (currently $59.95) which adds Photoshop, Aperture, and Lightroom, plug-in support as well as supporting RAW and DNG images and batch processing, and Studio Max (currently $119.95) which adds enhanced batch processing. 

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