Have you checked out the new MacPhun Aurora HDR Pro? Any photographer who has followed me knows I have not been a huge fan of many of these HDR programs. I am starting to come around after playing with Aurora. The results are much more pleasing to me. Aurora comes with a well designed set of presets and a wide variety of controls to fine tune your image, and finishes with rich colors, excellent contrast and a collection of some pretty cool works of art. It even has its own noise control filter which you’ll need when merging in dark exposures.
Let me explain why I have not been a fan in the past with HDR programs. I consider myself an expert in HDR photography. I shoot architecture professionally for architects, designers and builders. These clients need their photography to be true representations of the space they are hiring me to photograph. This means wall colors, fabrics, carpeting and everything in between must be true in their color and texture. If you look through the architectural gallery on this website you will see examples of realistic representations of interior space. Each photo represents exactly how and what one would see if standing in that space. Every interior photo in the gallery is a HDR image manually created in Adobe photoshop. Why? After lots of testing in various interior situations I have found it nearly impossible to get consistent results in any HDR program including Aurora. It is extremely difficult to get correct colors when you blend extreme exposure differences (i.e. 5 stops or more) and often mixed lighting. Many times you end up compromising reality when blending extreme exposure differences. I realize I may be asking for the impossible when I am working on a professional assignment, but for the fun and creative moments on the computer, these HDR programs are wonderful tools to have in your arsenal.
I am an artist, not a technical guru, therefore I’ll let someone else explain the algorithms or whatever, but I will be happy to share what makes Aurora stand out for me. First, presets are nicely designed. Depending on your creative tastes there are probably several presets you’ll enjoy more than others. I have 6 or 7 of what I call my favorites along with a couple I have designed and set up myself. Aurora gives the photographer the option of working in layers, this is an awesome feature. I already mentioned the HDR Noise Control but worth mentioning again. Having Noise Control built into Aurora is a nice time saver since noise is a common HDR issue. Top and Bottom Lighting Control is another awesome feature. This allows you to control lighting differences from top to bottom with tonality controls and you’re given the flexibility of changing the orientation. Other features that stand out is the Image Radiance, Glow Controls and a Vignette option. Aurora is a beautiful program and easy to learn. I give it two thumbs up.
I will follow up with some instructional posts on Aurora in the coming weeks but for now I recommend having MacPhun Aurora in your tool kit. It’s easy to use, flexible, and awesome results.