Friday, 24 June 2016

LandscapePro Studio Review

LandscapePro Studio is an image editing program specialising in landscapes. If you have a landscape photo that looks flat and uninteresting, you can load it up into  LandscapePro and quickly change its colours, alter its lighting or even completely replace a boring-looking sky with one that’s more dramatic.

The software comes in two editions – Standard and Studio (available for Windows or OS X). The Studio edition provides all the same editing capabilities as the Standard edition but is also supports some additional file formats and it has the option of being used as a Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements and Lightroom) plugin. The Standard Edition costs £59 (but at the time of writing it is on offer at £29.95). The Studio Edition costs £99.90  (but is currently on offer at £49.95). You can find a comparison of the features of the two editions on this page:

To edit a landscape you start by loading a photo and then selecting its principal elements by dragging labels (such as ‘Sky’, ‘Water’, ‘Mountain’, ‘Animal’ or ‘Person’) onto it. The software analyses your picture and makes a ‘best guess’ selection of each of the labelled elements. As its guesses are unlikely to be 100% accurate you can help it make a better match using tools to drag out the selected areas to define the exact boundaries between adjoining elements. LandscapePro then recalculates its selections and, in most cases, makes a reasonable attempt at finding the edges between, say, a person and the background or between the sea and the sky.

Just drop labels onto an image to select elements such as the Sky
It is even possible to isolate objects, such as buildings, trees and bridges which only partly obscure the sky. This makes it possible to add a new sky to a picture and have it ‘show through’ in the gaps of the foreground object.

You can drag out the coloured regions to fill in any gaps in the selection of sea, sky etc.

When you are satisfied that the essential elements have been correctly identified you can enhance or replace them by making selections from another panel. For example, you could change a dull grey sky into a tropical sunset. Or you could set colour parameters to make the grass greener and the sea bluer. You can even change the effective position of the sun so that the highlights and shadows in a scene are changed. You can also set styles to affect the whole picture. For instance, you can change a colour picture to black and white, add vignettes and increase the contrast or sharpness.

To change the colours scheme, lighting and sky, just select presets from the panel at the left

While it generally works well, there are a few little irritating niggles. For example, the ‘save as’ option drops down under the ‘save’ icon. But if you click the ‘save’ icon without holding down the mouse button to make the drop-down appear, the image overwrites the existing image on disk without giving you an option to save using a new name. At least there is an Undo option to get back to an earlier version. I would also like as clear ‘Project save’ icon. I eventually discovered that you can save a session (the image plus its defined areas) by saving using the ‘.lp’ file extension. This is far from obvious, however, and would be much better provided as a totally separate option. I would also like better help. The help at the moment is no more than a page of text. There are some tutorials online too, but more comprehensive documentation would be highly desirable.

And that is just about all there is to say about this software. For a reviewer, that’s bad news. It is simple to use and it works. There really isn’t much more to say about it. For a user, of course, that is great. There is next to no learning curve and it fixes your photos rapidly and easily.

Here is a picture prior to processing it in Landscape Pro. It’s an old holiday photo – a nice scene but rather bland and ‘washed out’.

In just a few minutes, I’ve been able to brighten the colours and add a more interesting sky.

But I eventually decided that more threatening weather would be more atmospheric. A few more clicks and it’s done!
LandscapePro is a product from Anthropics Technology  – a London-based company that specialises in image-enhancement software. I have previously reviewed its Smart Photo Editor which rapidly applies effects and improvements to all kinds of images, and (probably its most famous product) Portrait Professional which lets you alter facial images to remove blemishes, make subtle (or not so subtle) changes to skin tone and face-shape or even to add ‘digital makeup’. What that program does for faces, Landscape Pro does for scenery.

In short, if you need a program that enhances and changes your landscape photographs without forcing you to spend hours doing everything the hard way in Photoshop, get Landscape Pro.