Try The Tutorial & Put Aurora HDR To The Test
Follow along with this tutorial, download the free Aurora HDR trial, then get the set of images here:
Aurora HDR Pro For Landscape Photographers
When the words 'high dynamic range' are uttered, some traditional photographers will roll their eyes and mutter about cartoon graphics. Others will simply pass on by, thinking that there’s nothing to see here. Even if you don’t naturally think that HDR has much to offer your style of landscape photography then it’s time to look again. Aurora HDR Pro isn’t just about pulling together images with massive differences between shadows and highlights, it can also be used to add detail, colour and contrast to what is otherwise a straightforward landscape image.
In this tutorial, we’re going to look at how to improve a set of bracketed images. The problem is that the foreground is either very dark or the sky is over exposed. This is a classic case for a graduated neutral density filter but the fly in the ointment is the middle of the photo which has both dark areas – the rocks, and light – the water, plus it’s covered in mist. However, Aurora HDR can take all these elements and add punch and drama.
Creating A Natural Looking Image
This is a series of five bracketed shots where none of them on their own work at all. Even the mid-point image has underexposed foreground and overexposed highlights. Load them into Aurora HDR Pro and select the Realistic HDR Presets. Click on Realistic & Detailed to get started.
Tweak The Adjustment
This adds detail but more work is needed. Go into Tone Mapping and reduce Midtones to zero. Also, on the layer control, increase the Opacity back up to 100%. Now, click the Plus sign to add another layer and call it Sky. Then, go to Tools and Top & Bottom Lighting. Adjust the Shift location to +49 and the Blend to +47 to isolate the blended area as the middle. Then, under Tonality, reduce the Top slider to -21 to put detail back into the sky.
Add Cloud Definition & Warm The Image
Go down to Color Toning and select the blue/orange preset – it’s the fourth from the left. This warms up the rocks in the middle. In the Details section click on the Highlights tab and increase the Small details to +30 to put definition into the clouds. Then add another new layer and call it Middle.
Increase Clarity, Look & Detail
Go to Structure and increase Clarity by +10. Then, under HDR Look increase the amount to around +50. Go to HDR Detail and bump it up to +70. This should drastically increase the detail in the middle, however it also affects the other areas. So, click on the Brush tool icon. Click in the middle of the image. This automatically adds a layer mask. Brush out the mask in the middle to apply the sharpness and detail to it.
Add More Colour
Time to add some more colour so go to the Color section and increase the Saturation to +30 and the Vibrance to +40. Go to Color Filter and increase Red and Green by +25 and reduce Blue by -25.
Add Contrast To Middle Section
The mid section still lacks a little contrast so go to the Tone Curve and add a subtle S-curve shape, darkening the shadows and brightening the highlights which in this case is the water. As this has a blue touch to it still go down to Color Toning and set the Tint to +22 and increase the Saturation by +17. You should now have a vastly enhanced image that doesn’t immediately say HDR.
Here's the finished image:
Here is the final image produced by Aurora HDR, having also used Macphun's Snapheal CK healing app (part of their Creative Kit 2016) to remove sensor dust spots.
Try Aurora HDR For Free
Take a look at the Macphun web store where Aurora HDR is now available. There's also a downloadable free trial so you can try the software out with your own images.
Start A Free Trial Of Aurora HDR