There's a difference between photos that are "OK" and those that really pop. Usually, the ones that are most impressive have been enhanced somehow behind the scenes to make them more vivid, get rid of haze, straighten the horizon, and so on -- all by someone who has spent a lot of time learning how to make those enhancements. Photolemur is a new Mac app that will be arriving in public beta next week, and from a short hands-on session with the app, all I can say is "Wow!"
It's a remarkably simple app. You simply drag a photo and drop it onto the Photolemur window or use the "Load Photo" button to find one to load into the app. Immediately, Photolemur begins processing the image. You'll see a green line vertically bisecting the image, and when the app is done processing your photo, the unprocessed original is on the left half of the screen, the enhanced image is on the right. By dragging that green line left and right, you can see what your dull, unexciting original looked like and what the enhanced image now looks like. With a click, the enhanced image can be saved.
To quote the Photolemur team, "The software is powered by a self-learning AI image processing technology and instantly enhances photos based on its previous “experience”. Photolemur does almost everything by itself, the users only need to load the photos and save the best images afterwards. "
That's all you have to do. You can choose to make the image more vivid or realistic, but I found that just letting it do its job allowed Photolemur to pick the best possible settings. Here are a bunch of test images. First, we'll start with a Colorado fall foliage photo from a few weeks ago. Here's the original:
Now here's the enhanced image:
See the difference? The colors are much closer to how my eyes perceived them, and the original seems somewhat dull and unexciting by comparison. Some of the brush in the background is now lighter than before; the foreground grass might be a little too bright, but that's not what most eyes are going to be looking at.
This next image is an iPhone panorama taken last summer in Rocky Mountain National Park. The sky was bright but hazy due to smoke from fires in California, so the original was washed out and somewhat muddy looking:
Now, after a little work by Photolemur:
There's a bit of an issue with how it tried to work on the smoke/haze on the left side of the image, but the right-hand two-thirds of the photo is much improved. Looking at the full-size image, it sharpened a number of the mountains that are seen in the distance, and it brought out the true colors of the tundra grasses in the foreground.
This next photo was taken at an NHL Hockey Game that was held at Coors Field (Baseball Stadium) this February as part as part of the NHL's Stadium Series. The original photo shows kind of a yellowish tinge due to the stadium lighting and the entire image seems dull:
Put it through the magic of Photolemur:
That's more like it! The jerseys and snow are bright white like they should be, and the color on the big Colorado Avalanche logo in the background is more realistic.
Finally, here's a closeup of a flower that I thought was pretty darned good (taken with an iPhone, naturally):
That looks pretty good, right? Well, even a good picture can be enhanced by Photolemur:
The differences are subtle, but the enhanced image definitely "pops" a bit more. The purple of the petals is more saturated as is the orange of the stamens, and the grass is greener.
The Photolemur team apparently has Windows, mobile and web versions of the app under development, and they'd like as much feedback as possible about the beta Mac version. I'd personally like to see this as a Photos extension rather than a standalone Mac app. But Photolemur is already a keeper for me, and it's not even available yet. Be sure to sign up for the public beta as soon as possible.