1 photo, 5 looks - the versatility of Aurora HDR 2017

Aurora HDR 2017 is a lot more than "just" an HDR editor.  It's a full solution to processing any image.  Your creative output is limited only by your imagination.

I think that a lot of people - especially those that are not using HDR techniques in their photography - feel like all HDR photos look the same.  I don’t feel that way at all, although of course it’s rather obvious why they may think that.  I get it.

While I think we all end up with a particular look that we like, and thus employ in a lot of our images, HDR actually allows you quite a bit of latitude in processing and stylizing options.  In other words, all HDR photos are not the same, it’s just that we aren’t often being imaginative enough (and I include myself in that diagnosis).

I have accumulated a lot of software over the years, perhaps in hopes of having different tools handy which would presumably allow me to achieve more variety and different looks in my photos.  But having the tools and being good with them are entirely different stories.

I have just about everything there is, but I am no better with some of it than anyone else.  In fact, some of it I have never even used.  If you don’t use it, how are you going to get good at it?  What difference does it make then?  Sure, you have the option to use it, but that requires a time and effort investment to learn how to use it, and an even larger amount of time to get good enough at it that you could theoretically get really creative with it.

Back at the start of this year, I changed my philosophy about having a lot of tools, and decided that I would get more out of a product suite - and thus more creativity in my output - if I could just go deeper with a few programs and get really comfortable with them.  

That’s when I decided on Macphun, and I haven't looked back. (You can read about that here.)

Since that decision, I have dropped use of all the other software that I used for years, and now I completely use Aurora HDR 2017 (you can read about the new version here and here) and the other Macphun products in their Creative Kit (prior to the release of Aurora 2017, I used the previous version exclusively).  I use Aurora on about 99% of my images, so you might think that I would end up feeling limited in my processing options.  You know, that I might feel a bit restricted, since I pretty much just use one product.

Truthfully, I feel completely the opposite.  I feel much freer than before.

I no longer have multiple products to take an image into and experiment with, and multiple products that I have to spend time learning and staying up to date with.  I have a single product that I can go incredibly deep with, and by going deep and focusing I can get more out of it.  I can learn to be flexible and maintain control over my images by becoming a master of a single product.  And the only way to get really good at something is to focus, right?  How can you possibly master everything?  I don’t have the time for that, or the interest, frankly. 

I have learned that I can achieve ANYTHING I want to achieve with a single product - Aurora.  It’s that good and that flexible.  I loved the previous version, and Aurora HDR 2017 has gotten even better.

If you are interested in a free trial of Aurora HDR 2017, you can download that here.  Give it a test drive!

So as I was thinking about this article, I figured that the best way to illustrate my point is to show you some photos.  All of these were built upon the same 3 exposure HDR, and all edits were done strictly in Aurora.  No Lightroom, no Photoshop, and not even any edits in other Macphun products.  It’s all Aurora HDR 2017 (the one exception is the textured photo, because textures are not stored in Aurora, so I pulled that file in to apply to the image, but all adjustments were in Aurora).

I wanted to challenge myself to see just how creative I could get, and see if I could produce a variety of different looks to a photo - looks that I actually like.  You know, not different for the sake of being different, but to push my creative self and explore options that are pleasing to my eye.  And I hoped that I might expand my creative thinking in the process.  Isn’t that what this photography thing is about, anyway?

Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. -- George Bernard Shaw

I feel like I achieved exactly that, and truthfully I feel like I could pull off several more versions of this photo that are pleasant.  It really does come down to experimenting, learning a product, and not being afraid to try something that you may not initially like.  You could end up with many photos that you like, instead of just one.

So pick a product, go deep, experiment, explore, mess up and try again.  Get out there and create something - anything - and then create it again, but differently.  It’s an amazing exercise in creativity, and you will certainly learn something along the way.

Here are 5 versions of the photo, all created in Aurora HDR 2017.  See how different they are?  Variety is your friend, my friends.  Don't hesitate to do some experimentation.

The Textured version

The moody version

The crisp and cheerful version

The blue hour version

The stark monochrome version

See the variety here?  I even created the monochrome in Aurora HDR 2017, despite the fact that Macphun's Tonality product is the best black and white editor on the planet.  I use Tonality for all my monochromes - except the one above, of course.  That just further demonstrates the flexibility of Aurora HDR 2017.

Do you have a favorite?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Download a free trial of Aurora!

If you are interested, take a test drive for free!  You can download a free trial of Aurora by clicking here.  No commitment and no worries - just try it out and discover for yourself just how flexible the product really is.  I believe you will be blown away.  Even if you don't do anything with HDR, the power and flexibility of Aurora is great for single exposures, too.

And if you need help while you are test driving it, check out my YouTube channel for videos that show you how I use it.  Here's one that I think will help get you started:

Thanks for stopping by!  Let me know if you have any questions!