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Use Macphun Aurora HDR To Give Travel Shots More Punch

How to use Macphun Aurora HDR software to give your travel shots more punch.

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Use Macphun Aurora HDR To Give Travel Shots More Punch:


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: 


Improve Your Travel Photos With Aurora HDR

Being able to travel to exotic locations with your camera is the dream for most photographers but having arrived at or passing through somewhere amazing, you can be faced with flat, lifeless lighting. If you’re on a schedule or are touring around, there’s no coming back, hoping it will be better later in the week, you have to make the best of it while you are there. Inevitably, on your return home, you’ll look at those photos and the mediocre lighting with disappointment.

Fortunately, this is where AuroraHDR can step in and make a difference, adding significant punch to the image without it obviously looking like an over-excited HDR image. The three images used in this tutorial are a great example of giving yourself the best chance to create a better image later. The middle one is correctly exposed but the light is flat – it isn’t a case of unreachable highlights and shadows. However, in this image from Bora Bora, Trey Radcliff took two extra exposures, one for the dark shadows in the vegetation and under the buildings, and one for highlights on the brighter areas. The idea was to extend the tonal range of the middle photo by adding the details from the other two. So, even if the lighting is flat, take those extra shots and then see what AuroraHDR can do to give the resulting image more punch.


Use Macphun Aurora HDR To Give Travel Shots More Punch: Aurora 5 Orig


Making A Travel Image


Open Your Photos In Aurora HDR

One of the elements of this photo is that there is someone on the water in the middle. That can mean movement so when dragging all three brackets to the Aurora app, tick Ghosts Reduction and then select the middle exposure photo as the one to make sure is the sharpest. Then create the HDR image.


*Aurora 5 1a

Aurora 5 1 b


Use The Tone Tools 

Firstly go to the Tone Tools section and increase the Shadows by +30. This puts a little more detail into the areas under the building roofs and in the shadow areas of the palm trees. Also, increase the Contrast by +50 as it’s too flat at the moment.


Aurora 5 2 a


Aurora 5 2 b

Increase Clarity 

Create a new Layer and call it Clarity, then ramp up the Clarity component in the Structure setting to +100. This introduces much more detail and sharpness into the background mountain. Now select the Brush tool above the image and click on the mountain range itself. A layer mask will be added, blocking out all the Clarity. Use the brush to remove the mask and let the Clarity detail through onto the mountains. Click on the Mask icon, top left to see where the effect is being applied.


Aurora 5 3 a


Aurora 5 3 b

Add Some Detail 

To create impact in the rest of the photo, it’s time to add some HDR detail. Create a new layer and call it HDR. Go to the Structure part of Tools. Increase the HDR Look to +24 and the HDR Detail to +25. Then increase the Softness to +73.


Aurora 5 4 a


Aurora 5 4 b

Remove Noise

The sky now has plenty of impact but it’s also noisy. Create a new layer and call it Sky denoise. Go to HDR Denoise and increase the Amount to +15 and the Smooth to +15. Then click on the Brush icon and start painting on the sky. Turn the Mask icon on so you can see what you’re doing and paint in all the sky to localise the smoothing effect here.


Aurora 5 5 a


Aurora 5 5 b

Make Final Tweaks

For the final adjustments create another new layer and call it Final. This is your chance for little tweaks. Go to Color, under the Tools section and increase the Vibrance by +20. Increasing the Saturation tends to increase the noise and in this image there’s plenty of colour already. Also, increase the Color Contrast by +31 which will deepen the blue sky and water colours, giving it a richer feel.


Aurora 5 6 a

Aurora 5 6 b

Here's the final 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. 

Use Macphun Aurora HDR To Give Travel Shots More Punch: Aurora final


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

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macphun_community Avatar
Thanks for the write-up! It was a real pleasure to read your review.
Dear readers, in case you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach us at [email protected].
Alina from Macphun
carper123 Avatar
carper123 11 1.3k 8 United Kingdom
10 Feb 2016 10:08AM
The final image looks good except for the halos visible over the mountain tops which does spoil the image.

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