The latest version of Aurora HDR from Macphun is now available, and it is awesome. These are the main reasons why I think you should try it out for yourself.
I’ve been using Aurora HDR 2017 for a while now, since I was fortunate enough to receive an early beta copy a while back. From the start I have loved it, and now that it is released I wanted to share some thoughts on what I consider the major reasons why you should buy this software for your image editing needs.
If you want to read my review of Aurora HDR 2017, you can find that here.
If you owned the previous version then much of this will be familiar to you, but there are some amazing new features that you will find very useful - and of course you can purchase an upgrade version which is slightly cheaper.
If you don’t own the previous version, I highly recommend you take a close look at what Macphun’s new product can offer you. It is in my opinion the best image editing product on the market, and not just for HDR photos. You don’t have to take or process HDR photos to benefit from this amazing software. It is incredibly powerful whether you are creating an HDR photo or making edits to a single exposure.
Here's a product tour video that I did, highlighting a lot of the features I mention below. Take a look, explore the product, and let me know if you have any questions.
It has layers, denoise, amazing image editing tools, the ability to add textures and more - all BUILT INTO THE PRODUCT. You honestly no longer need multiple other products to create your own masterpieces - you can do it all in Aurora. I use it for editing ALL of my photos, regardless of whether it is an HDR or not. Give it a trial run and see for yourself. I firmly believe you will be convinced that it is amazing, and you will want to use it. It’s that good.
You can download a free trial here.
So without further ado, here are the major reasons why I believe you should get Aurora HDR 2017 for your image editing needs.
Yes, the ability to add layers to your photos is not new, but it is THE killer feature of Aurora and one that essentially all other features derive and benefit from. This allows you to selectively edit your photos, whether it is something like making color adjustments, adding details or removing noise. But you can also use layers to get really creative by adding textures (even selectively by brushing it into a portion of your image), stacking multiple presets, brushing in part of a preset, and more. The only limit is your imagination. This feature is what initially convinced me to fully convert to Aurora last year, and I am glad that I did.
2) Luminosity Masking
In Aurora HDR 2017, the luminosity masking feature has been significantly upgraded and expanded. Instead of creating a luminosity mask like in the previous version, now you selectively create one based on zones, or light levels, that are present in the photo. This gives you more fine-tuned control over how the mask is created and applied.
This is another killer feature of Aurora and it’s only gotten better in the 2017 edition. You simply choose the zones that correspond to the parts of the photo where you want the mask to apply, and then create the mask. It’s very simple but powerful. Then you can apply a preset or use editing tools to adjust your photo, based on the luminosity mask. It’s very capable and an excellent feature.
Using luminosity masking allows you to create a very subtle look to your HDR, should that be of interest to you. Many people have criticized HDR for being too over the top, but by gently applying edits based on the use of a luminosity mask, your result is much more natural and subtle. This is a feature that many Photoshop users have employed over the years, but in Aurora it is a simple few clicks to create the mask, which is wonderful.
Prior to using the previous version of Aurora, I rarely ever used presets on my photos. I always preferred to make all my adjustments individually because I never felt like the presets on those other products would work for me. But I loved the presets in the first version of Aurora and used them all the time. I feel the same way about the new version.
Many of the presets from the previous version made their way into Aurora HDR 2017, and of course there are new presets, too. Additionally, there are custom presets made by some well-known HDR photographers included, so you have plenty of choices.
Of course, you can make your own just like in the first version, and export them to share with your friends if you wanted to. It’s a very simple process to create your own presets, and as well you can “favorite” the ones you use the most and they are quickly visible in a favorites folder.
4) Top & Bottom Adjustment
I loved this tool in the first version of Aurora, and I am happy to report that in the 2017 edition it has been expanded and upgraded and now is much more capable. It now includes the ability to adjust Exposure, Contrast, Vibrance and Warmth within either the Top or Bottom sections of your photo. You can change the Blend, Shift and Rotation as well, just as in the previous version. But the updates here make this tool much more capable. It’s something that I empty on many photos. It’s quick and easy and now even more powerful, and can have a profound impact on your photo, all in a simple to use tool.
5) Radial Gradient Mask
The addition of this tool is wonderful and it can come in really handy. You can creatively make adjustments using this tool that otherwise would be a bit more challenging to do. Use it to adjust saturation, details, add some blur and more. You just create the mask by clicking on the brush mode and then selecting this tool. It will lay the guides on top of your photo, and you just move them to get your desired size, shape and orientation. Then, you can invert the mask with a single click if you want to. While this isn’t something I use as much as layers or luminosity masks, it’s wonderful to have and saves me time having it here. It’s a great new feature added in this new version.
6) Polarizing Filter
Since I don’t use a polarizing filter on my camera, it’s great to have at my disposal. It’s a very simple but powerful tool. You just move the slider to the right to reduce the glare and intensity of the brightest parts of the image. Simple but powerful, and nice to have at your disposal. This is another wonderful update to the product.
7) Built-in DeNoise
No, this isn’t new, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it somewhere on this list. This feature is one of the major reasons that I switched over completely to Aurora last year. I always used noise reduction software, but I found most of it to be a bit unwieldy and I never liked the fact that all of those products are essentially global in terms of how they apply noise reduction. The fact that you can create a new layer in Aurora, add noise reduction, and then selectively brush it into only specific parts of the image is without a doubt a huge win for me. It saves me a significant amount of time - in addition to giving me better control over the result - because I no longer have to make a round-trip to another product to apply noise reduction. Just a couple of clicks and a couple of sliders, and I am done with it. Wonderful.
So that’s a quick hit-list of some of my favorite features in Aurora HDR 2017 and why I think it is the best product out there, period. Give it a test run and see for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!
And of course, here are some sample photos that I edited with Aurora HDR 2017.