Aurora HDR Pro

This post is for the photography geeks out there in internet land. The rest of you can just click along...

On the rare occasion that I shoot high dynamic range (HDR) images, I've been using the built-in capabilities of Lightroom to handle the processing. It's not the greatest, but it worked OK. My Nikon D810 already has phenomenal dynamic range, so I don't need to bracket my images very often. Lightroom's HDR processing was fine for the rare occasion when I needed it.

Well, the other day, I needed it. I was shooting in to the sun and wanted to retain the detail in the sky and the foreground. I didn't think it was going to be possible in one exposure, so I shot three images (two stops over normal and two stops under.) When I got home and brought them in to Lightroom, I thought they looked a little flat. I processed them again using HDR Efex Pro 2. Much better but still a little flat. I had heard of some new software called Aurora HDR (made by Macphun with the help of HDR guru Trey Ratcliff), so I thought I'd give it a shot. I downloaded the free trial version and processed the images using Aurora. 

Wow! I didn't want to like it, but the images came out much better. Its built in presets are great, and there are so many ways to tweak the image as you like. The only thing I don't like about it is its speed. After making an adjustment, it takes a few seconds to see the results. To be fair, only Lightroom is fairly quick at this. 

Here is an example of how each program processed the same images:

Lightroom

Lightroom

HDR Efex Pro 2

HDR Efex Pro 2

Aurora HDR

Aurora HDR