In a previous post, we have discussed how every Travel Photographer should use HDR in their photography  “HDR – An essential tool in Travel Photography”. As mentioned, many people steer right away from the HDR technique, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t take your single images and really give them a “pop” using HDR software such as Aurora HDR 2018.

This post has primarily been written for those of you who do not use Lightroom (or don’t want to use Lightroom). Aurora HDR 2018 works as a Standalone application so for those of you that want a quick and easy way to process your images you can simply drag and drop your images into Aurora HDR 2018.

HDR software primarily combines multiple images and then tone maps the image. So what is Tone Mapping?

“Tone Mapping is a technique used in image processing and computer graphics to map one set of colors to another to approximate the appearance of high-dynamic-range images in a medium that has a more limited dynamic range. Tone mapping addresses the problem of strong contrast reduction from the scene radiance to the displayable range while preserving the image details and color appearance important to appreciate the original scene content.” Wikipedia

To fully benefit from Tone Mapping you should shoot in RAW format. Your camera’s sensor is only capable of recording a finite number of steps in contrast. When you save the capture as a RAW file, it retains all of the recorded contrast information. When you allow your photos to be converted to JPG format, it uses a “lossy” algorithm to increase contrast in areas of the image by discarding many of the steps in contrast.
Also, keep in mind that if you are using a camera with a Micro Four Thirds or APS-C sensor then you will not have as much Dynamic Range to get detail out of your image. Here are some examples. This shot was taken in Venice Italy and the Dynamic Range was high resulting in a blown-out white sky. This was taken on an APS-C (crop) sensor. We took the 3 shots so that this could be processed as an HDR image. This way we would retain the detail in the sky and also the shadows. However, for this example we will show you the single image (normal camera exposure) as it appears in Lightroom, Processed in Aurora, Edited in Aurora.
Original file in Lightroom. We have only added Lens Correction, Removed Chromatic Aberration and added some Noise Reduction. None of these edits have changed the look of the image.
This is the image when it first appears in Aurora HDR 2018. The tone mapping has already brought out much more detail in the image.
This is the final image after editing in Aurora HDR 2018. Notice that you now have much more detail in the sky and throughout the image. You could also use one of the many Presets to give the image the look that you want.
This next image is a fisheye image (thus the distortion) shot in Rutledge Lane in Melbourne on the fabulous Sony A7r mirrorless camera which is a Full Frame sensor and has fantastic Dynamic Range. This was shot as a single RAW image and although the contrast is not high in the image it will show you how the software can process pleasing results when processed as a single image.
Also, Original file in Lightroom. We have only removed Chromatic Aberration and added some Noise Reduction. None of the edits have changed the look of the image.
This is the image when it first appears in Aurora HDR 2018. The tone mapping has already brought out much more detail in the image.
This is a Before/After view of the image. On the left is the image before any editing and the right is the image after some minor editing.

So, although Aurora HDR 2018 is ideal for multiple exposures, we find Aurora HDR 2018 is also ideal for giving single images a real “pop” and for adding more Dynamic Range to our images. If you only shoot single images and want to get the most out of the Dynamic Range of your camera sensor then you should definitely consider downloading a trial of Aurora HDR 2018.

Things we love about the new Aurora HDR 2018 –

  • Interface – is well laid out and a breeze to navigate. We suggest you select Single View Mode under the Filters drop down as this will keep all the Filter Tabs closed and will save you from scrolling down when you are editing.
  • Next-generation Tone Mapping – A new smart Tone Mapping algorithm automatically reduces noise and produces more realistic and natural initial results.
  • Mac and Windows versions – Aurora HDR 2018 is available both for Mac and PC users, enabling mixed-computer households to share the same product key.
  • Lens Correction Tool – The new Lens Correction filter easily fixes all kinds of lens distortion, from barrel and pincushion to chromatic aberration and vignetting.
  • Transform Tool – Easily scale, rotate and shift your image to better fit your vision.
  • Dodge & Burn Filter – Selectively lighten or darken specific areas of an image to artfully direct your viewer’s eye towards the key subject of your image, similar to a traditional darkroom technique.
  • HDR Enhance Filter – Adds details and clarity to an image, adjusting colors, details, and contrast without creating artificial halos or other problems.
  • History Panel – An easy-to-reference list of edits made to your image, the History panel allows you to click on any editing step to revert the photo to an earlier stage of editing.
  • Image Flip and Rotate – Perfect for correcting photos with incorrect horizons or making creative compositions or other stylistic changes to an image.
  • IMPROVED:  New Structure Algorithm – The re-developed Structure tool allows you to adjust detail and clarity of an image to get a classic HDR effect with great detail or a smoother effect with fewer details.
  • IMPROVED: RAW handling – An improved RAW conversion brings out more details in shadows/highlights, displays colors more accurately and reduces noise in RAW files.
  • IMPROVED: Crop tool update – Now specify custom crop sizes for even more versatility.
  • IMPROVED: Speed – Faster merging and masking performance, improvement in RAW image processing.

The all-new Aurora HDR 2018 is available to order for both Mac and Windows by clicking the banner below. Use discount code WIDEAURORAJAN for a AUD$20 discount off the price.

 

In Conclusion

This software is a must for those of you that love HDR but is also a great alternative for those of you that want to gain more dynamic range from your single images. You can always download the trial and give it a try and if it is suitable for your needs then use the WIDEAURORAJAN coupon code to purchase.
If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to leave us a message.

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