Aurora HDR 2017

Pro­fes­sional edit­ing for HDR en­thu­si­asts

Mac Format - - APPLE CHOICE - Re­viewed by Dave Steven­son

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, au­ro­ 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.

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