Aurora HDR 2017
Professional editing for HDR enthusiasts
If you’re willing to get your hands a little dirty, you’ll find Aurora HDR is worth its high asking price
£78 FROM Macphun, aurorahdr.com needs OS X 10.10.5 or higher
High dynamic range (HDR) photography is the practice of merging multiple exposures of the same composition to create shots that have greater dynamic range than normal
cameras can produce. So, if you have a landscape photo with very bright highlights and very dark shadows, HDR processing can produce an image with neither overexposure nor underexposure. The main purported benefit is an image with lots more detail in its bright and dark areas, but over the years HDR processing has come to define an entire style of digital photography, noted for its highly saturated, metallic-looking images.
The effect itself falls squarely into the like-it-or-loathe-it category, but for converts of the style Aurora HDR offers a wealth of tools for merging bracketed exposures, or creating HDR-style images from individual shots.
You’ll get the most value from Aurora if you commit to the HDR technique, taking at least three different bracketed exposures each time you take a shot. For this you can take advantage of the excellent shot alignment tool, which lines up images that differ slightly in their composition due to wobbly tripods and so forth.
If you’re looking for a quick hit, Aurora also offers a wealth of one-click filters. In keeping with HDR’s polarising aesthetic, these range from fairly subtle to positively eye-watering, but if you’re a photographer who wants more control and you’re willing to get your hands a little dirtier, you’ll find the app worth its admittedly high asking price.
My god, it’s full of options
The right-hand toolbar offers a vast number of sliders and controls, from the industry standards (curves, colour temperature, exposure and so on) to HDR-specific tools that are missing from the likes of Lightroom or Affinity Photo: controls such as a software polarising filter, HDR-specific denoising, as well as an ingenious luminosity mask that enables you to select parts of an image based on how bright they are. You can also create adjustment layers, unlike Lightroom.
A further boost to Aurora’s credentials is the presence of a professional-grade batch processing mode. Very usefully, this lets you select a folder full of images and not only choose a file type and resolution for them, but will also automatically align folders that contain bracketed exposures – again, a boon for purist HDR photographers.
It’s those photographers who will get the most from Aurora – using its presets on single exposures won’t produce radically different results from most other apps, but the integrated image alignment tools, batch processing and fine-grained editing controls make it well worth the asking price for fans.
Aurora HDR 2017 gives users an amazing range of options, including batch processing with automatic alignment.