Whether you regularly edit and publish photos for marketing, advertising, PR, HR, commercial development, facilities management, or other purposes, creating and editing attractive photos quickly is likely at the top of your wish list. Fortunately, image-editing tools like Skylum's Aurora HDR, which enables enhancing high dynamic range photos, meet that demand. The new Aurora HDR 2019 AI-powered platform adds numerous features and improvements; plus, the upgrades don't slow performance or make the program more difficult to use.
SEE: Software usage policy (Tech Pro Research)
Aurora HDR, with its Quantum HDR Engine, already processed bracketed photos, adjusted exposure, enhanced dynamic range, cropped photos, applied filters, and plugged in to other popular image-editing applications. The new 2019 version of Aurora HDR (Figure A) adds several important features to the program that previously won Apple's Best Mac App and other editors' choice and best of year awards.
An upgraded tone mapping engine produces more natural image representations. RAW photo mapping accuracy is improved, meaning photographers working with RAW files can better maintain realism while enhancing high dynamic range image properties. New lens correction and dodge and burn tools help photographers correct for some of the traditional photography headaches that often plague the process.
Skylum's added workflow improvements, too. A new history panel permits applying different image styles. Users can subsequently apply various filter and setting combinations and move back and forth between various configurations, all while working within a nondestructive environment. The resulting freedom enables safe and less cumbersome trial-and-error production.
Editing is improved, too. Brushes are more precise, the user interface is updated and visually more appealing, (as shown in Figure B, which also demonstrates how users can compare the settings being applied), and preformatted HDR templates, including from renowned photographers Trey Ratcliff and Serge Ramelli, ease applying professionally developed settings to photos. Many of the preformatted filter settings are designed for specific genres to further aid production, including for architectural images, landscapes, and portraits.
Skylum's focus is centered on delivering quick but powerful HDR-specific edits without users having to invest significant time learning varying complexities of inter-connected settings. Within the updated interface, users can access an entire suite of HDR-specific tools, including smart tone settings designed to eliminate halos, ghosting, and artifacts. Other included tools permit removing noise from HDR images, applying custom textures, and adjusting HDR structure to deliver more precise details without introducing imperfections.
Making the most of available features is simplified, thanks to the included user guide and video tutorials, accessed from the Help menu. The learning aids cut right to the chase, and they're first-rate. It's refreshing to see software developers continuing to invest in producing such quality documentation and training aids.
A free trial is available, so there's no risk if you wish to give the platform a try. Aurora HDR 2019 upgrades cost $59. A full new license, which includes both Mac and Windows versions, runs $99. An Aurora/Luminar bundle is available for $149.
- High Dynamic Range: The quest for greater image realism (ZDNet)
- How to edit bracketed photos using Aurora HDR for Mac app (TechRepublic)
- Adobe continues innovating storytelling with AI (TechRepublic)
- Video: How machine learning can enhance photography (TechRepublic)
- iPhone XS camera gets new Smart HDR photos and adjustable bokeh (CNET)
- HDRInstant app can make gorgeous images from drone videos (Download.com)
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.