In this quick tutorial, I’ll show you how you can take a photo from your archives and make it look great in all of ten minutes with Aurora. This tutorial is perfect for those who are just starting out with Aurora. Feel free to grab your own nature photo to follow along.

Note: I’m on a Mac, and I used the standalone Aurora interface.

Revamping Your Old Photo

There are often gems hidden in your photo archives, so it’s always fun to dig out an old image and see if you can spiff it up. In fact, I geek out on it.

In this case, I dug up a photo of my friend’s frolicking Gypsy Vanner horse (one of my favorite breeds, by the way). One of the reasons it caught my eye is because all four hooves are off the ground!

I’d actually previously processed the photo in Lightroom and Photoshop, and come out with pleasing results. However, for the sake of exploring Aurora’s potential, I decided to start back from scratch with the original RAW file and seeing how Aurora handled it.

Here’s a peek at the original RAW:

Once I opened Aurora 2018, it gave me a screen to upload a file.

I uploaded my single file, and was met with a handful of options. I left the Tone Mapping box checked. In the lower left-hand corner, there were additional options, so I left those on their default settings as well, and clicked “Create HDR”.

Below is the initial result, once I was in Aurora:

Being all about instant gratification (who’s not?), my first instinct is to click through the basic presets along the bottom panel, which you can see below:

Have some fun poking around! Turning on the Before/After Slider helped me see the changes. For example, below is the Deep Sky preset:

The photo definitely pops more, but it was not quite to my taste. After further exploring, I decided the Landscape Realistic Preset was the one for me for a starting point.

From there, I lowered the Contrast slider ever so slightly from the Preset’s original value:

Then I adjusted fine tuned some of the colors from the HSL panel on the right side. Specifically, I lowered the Aqua and Blue settings, and raised the Yellow and Green settings.

Final Touches

I decided to crop out the extra foliage, as well as the not-so-subtle gift from the horse (did you spot it?), using the crop option in the top panel.

Finally, I decided to bring some of the shadows back into the image by revisiting the righthand panel and lowering the Shadows slider under the HDR Basic settings. Shadows are not always a bad thing, after all, and can add depth and character to an image.

To export, go to File > Export

For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll just save it as a jpg.

The Final Result

Below we have the final result. It took all of 10 minutes. (Note: I went back in after the fact and raised the Orange and Yellow saturation settings in the HSL panel ever so slightly.)

Here’s the before/after comparison:

Final Thoughts

Quite the improvement! As you can see, you don’t have to spend gobs of time on a photo to bring it up to the next level. Aurora 2018 made it relatively easy for me to breathe new life into my old photo. Imagine the possibilities with yours.

Note: Aurora 2018 for Windows and Mac is available for pre-order and will ship on September 28, 2017.  Learn more here.