The dramatic effect of HDR is not just for landscapes. You can boost the drama to make a striking, atmospheric family action shot with just a few clicks in Aurora HDR.

This is effective for high energy, motion-frozen-in-time photos. If there are crazy emotions and epic expressions in the mix, all the better. The effect is made possible by the single image feature of Aurora HDR: These aren’t moments where you can stack multiple exposures!

The basic process in Aurora HDR

I edited all these RAW, straight-out-of-camera (SOOC) photos as single images in Aurora HDR: You can see a click-by-click of how to open and edit a single photo here. I wanted to create a “larger than life” effect, with high contrast, deep colors and strong greens and blues.

Aurora HDR comes with dozens of built-in “Looks” (like presets in Lightroom), which are accessed by the Collections button in the bottom of the window. For each photo I started by clicking through a few different Looks to see which I liked, and then tweaking the settings to get it just right.

Moving the vignette is as easy as point-and-click

I used the Dramatic collection “Cool Drama” Look for this photo, then tweaked the contrast, highlights and shadows up, and dropped the blacks. If you’ve developed photos in Lightroom, the process is the essentially the same. I boosted HDR Clarity for detail and mid-tone contrast, and moved the center of the post-crop Vignette to land on my little nephew’s face — it just takes a point and click to move the Vignette, which is pretty handy.

Exploring the Essential collection

The Essentials collection has a lot of great Looks, and the one I picked for this photo was “HDR Look 2” with a slight Vibrance and Polarizing Filter boost to bring out the blues and greens. Done!

Bringing back the color in a washed-out photo

This photo was taken in direct sunlight and the SOOC was pretty flat. “Cool Drama” in the Dramatic collection was my starting point again. I raised highlights and shadows, lowered the blacks, and then increased the Vibrance to counter the sunlight washout. The Polarizing Filter helped boost the blue saturation and a Vignette highlighted the action.

Removing a color cast with Color Toning

This photo SOOC had a few issues: It’s underexposed, the white balance is wrong and it’s noisy. I chose the Artistic collection Look called “Smooth, But Crunchy” as my starting point, then adjusted the exposure and white balance. I used HDR Denoise, HDR Details Boost and HDR Clarity to correct the noise a bit, but I still had a strong orange color cast across my toddler’s face due to the timber walls and mixed lighting. The Color Toning feature saved me: I separately adjusted the color of the highlights and the shadows until the cast was gone.

Creating a lush jungle adventure

And for my final photo, I used Cool Drama (Dramatic collection) again, and boosted the small, medium and large details in the HDR Details panel. Done!

Aurora HDR is powerful and adaptable

There’s a lot you can do with Aurora HDR. With every edit being non-destructive, you’re free to dive in and have a play. Although you might not want to edit every single family photo in such a stylized way, it’s a fun tool to play with to highlight emotion and action in your family photos.

Try out Aurora HDR today, and save an additional $10 with the coupon code PHOTOFOCUS!