When HDR software first came out I wasn’t a big fan. Mostly due to people overcooking the images with effects and saturation. The other problem was the selection algorithms were off leaving halos which were especially noticeable around the horizon and skylines of images.
Aurora HDR 2019 and resort photography
The programmers became better and the processing became more intuitive and I came to embrace the use of HDR software more often. When Macphun, (now Skylum) came out with Aurora HDR 2017 I was pleasantly surprised by how much more realistic images the images were even with simple presets (now referred to as ‘LOOKS’). I was able to assemble the bracketed frames with less and less extra work. Then came Aurora HDR 2018 and it was even better. Now with Aurora HDR 2019 I’m almost in nirvana.
Interior architecture example
Below is a bracket I made for photographing Sky Ranch Lodge in Sedona, Arizona.
Here’s an illustration of the capture and working of an image from a resort property shoot I reworked in the Aurora HDR 2019 version. For many properties, especially in Sedona, Arizona, the view out the window is almost as important as showing the amenities and feel of the room. Obviously this is a huge call for the use of bracketed images in order to capture the density range from inside to outside. In the past this was a major PIA which often led to lots of hand selections and reworking window frames due to the light blooming around the windows.
When making these exposures it is highly recommended to have the camera mounted on a tripod. Even the tripod cannot guarantee the images will be in perfect alignment so I suggest setting the software to align the images.
Even with detail inside and outside in the initial processing you may want to selectively adjust certain areas of your image. A feature of the software is Layers and masks. Layers can be powerful when you want to make localized changes. For example, even though the combining of the HDR was realistic and clean I wanted to work the landscape just a bit more without having an effect on the interior. I made an Adjustment Layer, masked the windows, so the change only happened outside. I don’t know about you but my painting skills leave a little to be desired when trying to make a straight line. A tip when using the Adjustment Brush is to make a mark, hold the shift key and make a second mark where you want the line to end. Viola! A perfectly straight line. Repeat and work your way around the window and fill in the center. If you are familiar with Adobe Photoshop, you will recognize this feature.
When working on properties for marketing owners often want an inviting warm tone for the room. Problem is if you make a global adjustment the sheets then take on the same warm cast. A definite no-no! An Adjustment Layer to the rescue once again. A change in white balance toward the blue end of the scale and you are home free.
The HDR software comes with Looks (aka presets) which you can see across the bottom of the workspace above. These can be a great place for getting color and effects. In addition, they can be adjusted and then saved as your own new Look. Isolate your changes with masks and as I did here with a third Adjustment Layer for some final color tweaking.
Above see the finished file after a quick trip into Adobe Photoshop to remove a couple of reflections in the windows and some wrinkles on the bed.
Resume your work
Here’s an awesome feature alert. You can save your work as a mpuar2 file, which contains all of your source images and the complete history of everything you have done at every step in the image.
Yours in Creative Photography, Bob
Savings on Aurora HDR 2019
Save $$$ on Aurora HDR 2019 from Skylum Software.