Aurora HDR 2017 is now shipping. If you make images and you process on a Mac, follow the link in this article to get a free trial.
Once you are blown away by its power and simplicity use my coupon code THEPHOTOVIDEOGUY10 at checkout when you buy this fabulous offering. I've provided a link to the purchase page right at the bottom of this article
Why am I so enthused? It's simple. The folks at Macphun understand the core principles of HDR. Those principles are to maximize High Dynamic Range. I get it that for many folks this is just another photo buzzword but it really means a great deal. Dynamic range is the amount of tonal variance between pure black and pure white. When HDR software debuted, a really good digital sensor could deliver just over six stops of dynamic range, meaning six major steps from pure black to pure white. Our eyes, what I refer to as the Mark 1 Mod 0 eyeball, can see about 20 stops of dynamic range, so people would look at photos and feel that there was something missing. The photo might not have had enough shadow detail, or all the highlights would be pushed into white so subtle variances would be lost.
High Dynamic Range required you to make multiple exposures of your image, some underexposed, some overexposed and then to let the software combine the images into a single one using powerful algorithms to give you more dynamic range. A simple combination of two stops under, at meter and two stops over would take the normal six stops and deliver an image with ten stops of dynamic range. This was, and remains a huge advantage.
Today, we can get camera sensors with as much as 14 stops of dynamic range relatively inexpensively, so some pundits have suggested that HDR doesn't matter any more. They are wrong. While modern sensors do a much better job than older ones, they still don't deliver the range seen by the human eye. If we shoot that same combination again, with a camera with one of those new sensors, we can now get images with 18 stops of dynamic range. Not quite the eye response but amazingly close.
HDR remains a very viable tool for creatives, and will do so for some time.
Shortly after the establishment of HDR software, creatives discovered that through manipulation of the settings that they could achieve images that weren't just wider in dynamic range but also mapped tones onto other areas. For the first couple of years, folks loved these highly saturated and very punchy images with shifted colours and ethereal looks. As with anything popular, there later came a backlash, resulting in many people saying "I hate HDR" because the only HDR images that they recognized as HDR had this overcooked look. There are creatives still today who love that look and they can still get it when they want, but it is a small part of what great HDR software can do.
I use the principles of HDR all the time, and use Aurora HDR more often than a viewer might know. I love the extended dynamic range, and Aurora HDR 2017 includes a ton of presets that I can use as finishes or starting points for my own creative work. I don't do images that have that "HDR look". My personal preference is to extend the dynamic range without shifting colours or giving things a nuclear glow. In fact, when I am shooting, I will often use bracketing even if my planned intent is not to HDR, because it gives me the option to do so later on if I wish. The space used is tiny and the future flexibility is awesome.
With Aurora HDR 2017, the creative has the newest and most sophisticated HDR algorithms around readily available. You can use the tool as a standalone or as a plugin with Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture and Photoshop Elements. Yes, you do need a Mac, but a little bird hinted that Windows users may have an option in 2018. That's just a rumour of course, I don't speak for Macphun. IF you've looked at prior versions, check out this chart that shows you what's new.
If you love HDR, get Aurora HDR 2017. If you think that you hate HDR, get the free trial of Aurora HDR 2017 and try it out. If you like it, you'll buy it. If it's not for you, no pain no foul. I suspect that you will see the value proposition.