Review - Landscape Pro Studio

Like most people these days I take a lot of photographs on my phone, and the quality can be excellent - but particularly with landscapes it's easy to get a result that's disappointing. On the other hand, I don't have time to spend hours touching up each photo - I want something that will enhance a landscape photo quickly and easily.

It was a pleasure, then, to try out Landscape Pro, as it does some heavy duty work, but with relatively little effort.

As a test, I used this image of the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, where I gave a talk a few weeks ago:


It's a gorgeous building (not helped, obviously, by the scaffolding), but my photo did not do it justice.

First step on loading the photo into the program is to identify key areas, which can be handled as one. This is done by dropping markers on them, then adjusting the coloured area to cover the edges. This a simple dragging mechanism, which copes with most boundaries well, though occasionally you may need to go with a more fine detail tool. Here I'm just completing identifying the building with the statue on the dome still to be included:


Then it's a matter of adjusting presets and sliders to enhance your selected areas. You can also, for example change the lighting on an area. The main changes I made were to improve the dull-looking sky, brighten up the building (and give it a subtle touch of sunlight on the top left of the dome), and to play around with the appearance of the car slightly (though I eventually left it much as it was):


Photo significantly improved in five minutes. Of course, I could have done far more (for example, in my hurry I failed to spot I'd lost the pyramidal glass roofs on the two sides of the building). But for me, the importance of this kind of software to someone who isn't a pro is what you can do quickly - and I was very impressed.

Another image I had a go at was to be used as a backdrop of the header of the website:


I wanted to put white text on top of the image, so I needed to darken the sky. I tried this in Pixelmator, my image editor of choice, but I couldn't get the border between the people's heads and the sky clean enough. It was alway very obviously edited. But five minutes with Landscape Pro Studio and it became the perfect backdrop. The sky colour looks a little unnatural, but it's what I wanted for the purpose:


There are a number of tutorial videos to help you get started, but I found it mostly easy enough to simply play with it and find out how to use it. If there's one things I would have liked included that isn't there, it's a facility to remove unwanted objects, such as the horrible street sign in the Glasgow image. I can do that separately with Pixelmator, but it would have been nice to have the facility here. Photoshop users can get the combined effect as there is a plug-in for the software.

Overall, Landscape Pro does what it's supposed to do, very well and a reasonable price, running on both Windows and Mac. You can pay up to £99.95 for the Studio Max version, but for all I need, the basic version at £29.95 does the job just fine. See the website for more details.

Comments

  1. The software is fine, but the company -- not so much. I bought V1, used it, and liked it enough that when V2 came out and there was an attractive upgrade price, i bought it. Went to open one of my files from V1 to see how the new, improved tools would let me improve it, and ... it didn't show in the open dialog. I checked with Anthropics, and no, V2 won't load V1 files. No explanation or apology, just "Nope."

    To give them some credit, they allowed me to return it. Now V3 is out, and they won't even answer my question about backward compatibility. I've been a software developer for over 30 years, and I know how easy it would be to write a converter -- without having to do much testing: you already have the code to read V1 and write V2, you just have to map from the V1 internal data structure to the V2 version.

    I'd have been fine if they'd said "We changed things so much that V1 data is totally incompatible with V2 data," but they simply said "Nope." Even the 800-lb gorillas of the software world -- M$ and Adobe -- make their new versions backward-compatible with AT LEAST the previous version. There's no excuse for not doing this -- or at least Anthropics wasn't willing to provide one.

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    1. Thanks - very fair point. I have only seen this version and not attempted to transfer files between versions.

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