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A first look at Radiant Photo: Professional retouching with ease


Not all pictures we take are created equal. There are different subjects, lighting conditions and how the camera exposes those images. Radiant Photo offers a fast way to photo nirvana.

I was provided a copy of Radiant Photo, including Lightroom Classic and Photoshop plugins, for this article.

I took all of the photographs used in this piece. The before images are straight out of the camera with no adjustments or retouching. The after photos are the result of either Radiant Photo auto adjustments alone or with my added adjustments on the headshots.

AI analysis

Radiant Photo has built-in artificial intelligence scene detection. The system understands the content of the image and makes adjustments according to its pixel-by-pixel analysis. The result appears to be better-looking, more vibrant and more colorful photographs quickly. I put the software to the test.

Smart presets

Opening images in Radiant Photo is as simple as dragging and dropping them onto the main screen. I selected the photos to test in Adobe Bridge and dropped them into Radiant Photo. 128MB TIFF files open almost instantly into a filmstrip at the bottom.

I clicked on the first photo of a man riding in a bus. Radiant Photo recognized the photo was of a person. It automatically chose a preset named People.

An older man stares out the window of a bus. Behind him the windshield is brightly lit.
Subject detection chose the People Smart Preset

The People preset is automatically applied. Radiant Photo offers Smart Editing controls to tweak the image. I found the Smart Preset did a great job. The finished photo wanted no further fiddling from me.

Move the slider to the ieft to see the after version. The camera original shows when the control is all the way to the right. My take: Radiant Photo did a great job on a subject in tough light.

Pigeons

I grabbed a shot of a pair of pigeons standing in a fountain and pulled it into Radiant Photo. It instantly recognized that the photo contained animals and loaded up that Smart Preset. Again, the result speaks for itself.

Radiant Photo automatically boosted the colored light reflections and added detail to the birds.

Studio headshots

Radiant Photo has some very powerful enhancement tools for retouching faces. The software starts with Smart Editing analyzing the subject and offering strength and color adjustments. The tool choices for faces appear when the face icon is ticked. Here’s an original, unretouched headshot open in Radiant Photo with detailed editing controls for face and skin showing.

Studio headshot open in Radiant Photo with the face editing tools showing
Unretouched headshot before Radiant Photo adjustments.

Eyes

The engineers are fixated with Red-Eye because the Auto Red-Eye box was checked for every headshot I opened. I turned it off.

Beyond the Red-Eye control, Eyes has Eye Enhancement to lighten the irises, Eye Enlarge, Dark Circles — moving the slider to the right helps lighten shadows under the eyes and Catchlights. This control has a drop-down that mimics the reflections various light sources produce.

Face and Skin

The Face section handles contouring, whitening the teeth and sharpening lips. Skin is my favorite. It smooths skin either on just the face or the whole body. Smoothing types include subtle, smooth and super smooth. One slider works on blemishes, another for minimizing infrared and removing shine.

Studio headshot open in Radiant Photo with the face editing tools showing the enhancements.
Unretouched headshot with Radiant Photo enhancements.

Radiant Photo does a great job of enhancing eyes and lips. The skin tools are powerful. I recommend using the on/off toggle to see the changes. Unchecking a tool or moving its slide takes a really long — way too long — time to refresh. But this is an early beta; I hope the team can speed slider and tool checkbox refresh much more robust.

Makeup

This tool is useful. Sometimes a bit of blush or foundation added to a headshot can make a huge difference. This version is a bit heavy so apply with restraint.

This headshot of a mature businesswoman has no retouching prior to opening it in Radiant Photo. The photo on the left shows the portrait adjustment toggles in the off position while the one on the right has them on. Look at the switches in the left image. They are all off.

Professional power at your fingertips

Radiant Photo leverages the software professional photo labs use to process, enhance and print 140 million photos every day to bring that power to individual users.

Radiant Photo is a solid performer. The overall results are impressive. I particularly like Radiant’s ability to detect the type of photo thrown at it. It knows the difference between people on the street, animals and landscapes, and many others. Radiant Photo opens TIFF, JPEG, RAW and other formats. The Photoshop plugin adds these tools to any layer.

My biggest gripe is the refresh for individual controls within a category is slow and frustrating. This needs improvement. Removing the check from Auto Red-Eye is also an extra step that is not necessary.

Radiant Photo is available for preorder on radiantimaginglabs.com. Radiant Photo comes as a standalone application for Intel Macs, Windows and Apple M1/M2 ARM processors. Standalone or plugin versions are $129, whereas a bundle with both are $159. The software is set to ship on or before Sept. 15, 2022.



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Rafael Jones

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