When you’re a serious photographer, you want software that will allow you to make the most of your art. For many, that means delving into High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, a technique that overcomes the limitations of image sensors in digital photographs. Using multiple shots of the same subject, each captured at different exposure values (“brackets”), the photographs are merged together into a single image that encompasses a greater exposure range.
The problem is, how do you make the most of this technique? Macphun Software, an innovative photography app developer, has worked with the world’s leading HDR photographer, Trey Ratcliffe, to launch Aurora HDR for the Mac. Aurora HDR combines Macphun’s proprietary image processing and software development experience with Ratcliffe’s expertise and passion for HDR photography. Enough marketing talk, though. Let’s look at how well the software works.
Multiple ways to use it
You can run Aurora HDR as a standalone app, but what if you want to use the software within your existing workflow? You can install the Aurora HDR plugin to Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, or Apple Aperture, allowing you to utilize the power of the HDR software right within the apps you’re accustomed to using for photo editing. Again, if you don’t have those programs or prefer to work on your HDR photography in a standalone app, Aurora HDR allows for that.
Creating gorgeous images in Aurora HDR
You start off by selecting your brackets, which will be merged to create your final image. You can choose as many brackets as you wish, but a good baseline is to use between three and five images.
Once you’ve selected your brackets and created the HDR image, the fun really begins. Aurora HDR provides plenty of tools to use in editing your photograph to achieve the exact look that you want. Start off with presets, and see how your image looks after those changes are made.
Still not completely pleased with the results? The tools included within Macphun’s Aurora HDR give you complete control over such things as brightness, top and bottom lighting, image radiance, and more. Play around with the various controls and create your own masterpiece.
Once you’ve achieved the look you want, you can export your image to your Mac’s filesystem, or you can share it with a number of different apps. You can export to your Photo Library, for example, or send the image straight to an email.
Getting Aurora HDR
Aurora HDR is designed for OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks or later, and you can download a free trial of the software from Macphun’s Web page. The full version of the application starts at $39.99 on the Mac App Store, but the best value is the $129.99 package from Macphun’s store, which includes the plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture, along with a series of training videos by Trey Radcliffe. To make sure your Mac meets the system requirements (my mid–2010 Mac Mini runs it just fine), check out these system requirements:
- Processor Core 2 Duo from late 2009 or newer
- Minimum 4 GB RAM
- OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks or newer
- 2 GB free space on hard drive
- Display resolution 1280 x 800 or higher
- Retina displays supported