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Radiant Photo: How good is Quick Edit with sunset landscapes?

Radiant Photo promises to process photos instantly … and do it well. I was curious to see how it would do with high-dynamic sunset landscapes. 

What is Radiant Photo?

Radiant Photo states that it was created by photographers for photographers. It’s an easy-to-use editor that runs as stand-alone as well as a plugin. When you open an image, Radiant Photo analyzes each image and suggests edits that it feels is best for each photo. Rather than applying presets, it attempts to bring out color, detail and light in each photo.

One of the issues that any photographer faces is capturing scenes with a wide dynamic range and making it look like how we see it. Sunsets certainly are among the most dynamic, with a bright sky but landscape that is often in shadow. I was interested to see how Radiant Photo would handle this.

Photo one: Processing a sunset photo

I photographed a sunset at Trona Pinnacles in California. I got there a little later than intended. Right as I was about to snap a photo, the sky changed. The photo looks a little “meh.” The colors looked richer in person. I wanted to see if Radiant Photo could handle the dynamic range and get the image closer to what it looked like when I was there.

Quick Edit immediately brightened the photo and brought out some of the details, particularly in the rocks, while leaving the details of the sky relatively similar. 

I wanted to see what more Radiant Photo could do. Clicking on Detailed Edit reveals Smart Presets and Smart Editing. The software had defaulted to Auto Radiant. Just for fun, I decided to see what would happen if I selected some of the other Smart Presets. 

Radiant Photo screenshot.
It turns out that Radiant Photo really did choose the best Smart Preset. When I chose other ones, it didn’t look so great.

Landscape – Night did not look very good and actually detracted from the nice detail that the other preset had created. I reverted back to Auto Radiant.

Adding Sky Toning - Sunset in Radiant Photos.
Adding Sky Toning – Sunset in Radiant Photo

In Smart Edits, I was able to check the Sky Toning box. From there, I simply selected Sunset. Below is how it looked without making any other adjustments. You can see that it warmed the sky as well as the tufas and other parts of the landscape.

My earlier processing of the photo before using Radiant Photo. Mine is darker than what Radiant Photo initially created.

I had done some earlier processing with this photo. I preferred that one with the darker sky. It looked more like how I remembered the scene. However, I felt like I could have saved some time if I had done a quick edit in Radiant Photo first. After all, what I had just done here took a matter of seconds. And certainly, it looks quite good on its own.

Photo two: A dark sunset photo with a very dark foreground

I had a photo in which the sun had set behind a mountain, turning it into a rather dark mass. The overall photo was very washed out. What would Radiant Photo do with this?

Quick Edit in Radiant Photos.
Quick Edit in Radiant Photo

The initial photo looked better, but still seemed dull. I made a few more tweaks, including using a vignette. The overall look was better. If I spent more time on it, I could turn it into a much more vibrant, rich photo. However, this too was a good start. Considering how it looked before, it was still a large improvement.

Detailed Edit

Smart Editing Panel, Radiant Photo
Smart Editing Panel, Radiant Photo.

The panels to the right of the photo offers additional control if necessary. These include the Smart Editing panel, cropping (and the cropping includes a Golden Ratio overlay!), histogram and more. It also offers Tone, Face Selection and Color Grading. 

Radiant Photo. Tufa Trona Pinnacles.
I added a graduated filter, which includes a portrait vignette to put more of the emphasis on the large rock formation.

Finishing Tools, located at the bottom of the Tone section, includes Color Temperature, Tint, Exposure and Contrast. To my surprise, these adjustments were located at the bottom of the Tone Section. Other programs frequently put these basic adjustments near the beginning.

Other than this surprise, I found the layout easy to use. 

The radiance of the program

I found that the Quick Edit had already gotten me largely where I wanted to go already. It is this quality that separates Radiant Photo from other photo editing software programs. The tweaks for these sunset photos seem to be, well, intelligently done and bring out more color and richness. Although Radiant Photo didn’t get either photo exactly what I wanted, it was a lot closer. And who doesn’t love a timesaver?

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Rafael Jones

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