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Combining the Power of Aurora HDR 2018 and Luminar 2018 In The Same Picture

I use Aurora and Luminar on a daily basis for my post-editing workflow – but not at all once on the same image. I finally decided to combine both… and the only thing I’ve asked myself is “Why in the world haven’t I tried this earlier?!”

In this article, I explain step by step what I did to create this beautiful sunset picture and show you how you can do it too!

Step 1: Open your image in Aurora HDR 2018

For those of you who are not familiar with the software, Aurora HDR 2018 is an amazing tool (for Mac and PC users!) to edit pictures. The HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology allows us to average the light between highlights and shadows in order to get the maximum of information out of our camera’s sensor. In the past, we needed to shoot three or more images at different exposures to combine them and get the HDR effect. Now with Aurora, a SINGLE picture can be edited the HDR way. This is great news for all of us who like shooting subjects in motion. I’m far from being an HDR expert but I do love using this software to get more details in my backlit images and other higher contrast situations. I also love the amazing filters option it provides me – which are different than the ones in Luminar. Hey! More choice = more fun. Okay enough technicalities, let’s jump into it!

The first thing you’ll notice is that Aurora starts by processing the image by itself when importing it. Here’s what the image looked like simply by opening it in the software:

Original -> Opened in Aurora HDR 2018 (without modifying anything)

The sky is more saturated. There is more detail n the shadows and blacks. This is a great base to begin the work. At the right of the screen are all the available filters.

For this image, I’ve used some of my favorite basic ones to add intensity with:

  • Color > Vibrance
  • HDR Structure
  • Polarizing Filter
  • HDR Details Boost > Details > Small

Watch this! Here comes the fun part!

  • Top & Botton Tuning > Top > Warmth (I put it cooler at -27)
  • Top & Bottom Tuning > Bottom > Warmth (I put it warmer at 62)

This gives a nice gradient with complementary blue/orange tones. It brings this image alive. Then to finish, I added again some Saturation to the warm colors.

  • HSL > Saturation > Orange
  • HSL > Saturation > Yellow

 

The filters and their settings

Save the file then quit Aurora. We’re done with Step 1! Below is what the image looked like before than after the Aurora edits.

Here’s the progression after Step 1 (Original -> Aurora HDR 2018)

Step 2: Open your image in Luminar 2018

Now that our image is prepped, let’s get to my favorite part: enhance the structure, the details and add the final touch! (If you don’t know yet what Luminar 2018 is all about, I invite you to have a quick look to learn more about this great software and here’s a way for an instant 10$ savings on your purchase.

Since Luminar’s workspace is very similar to Aurora’s, it’s really easy to navigate between both of them. The filters are still at the right part of the screen. First, create a new adjustment layer by clicking the little + sign.

Then, I can add ALLLLLL the filters I feel like to edit the images. It’s like being a kid in a candy shop (or in my case, being in an ice cream factory). To add filters, simply click on blue the “Add Filters” button and a scrolling Filters Catalog will magically appear.

Yep, these are all the beautiful filters you can choose from. Then you can edit every single one of them in any way you can possibly imagine. Mind-blowing I know. (You can see my personal favorites by the little orange star.)

For this photograph, my choices are:

  • Accent – AI Filter (this one is a staple for any image in my opinion!)
  • Structure (I painted this filter in the hair of my model – I really wanted to bring out the texture and movement)
  • Details Enhancer

And for the more creative part:

  • Split Color Warmth
  • Adjustable Gradient > Bottom > Warmth
  • Color Temperature > Temperature (added some more warmth)

 

What the filters looked like after my adjustments

In Step 2, I really wanted to bring up the details and the texture of the model’s hair as well as the beautiful golden hour light. (I know there is a “Golden Hour” filter. But for this image, I liked the way it turned more out with the other settings. I know that’s kind of ironic.)

Here’s the progression after Step 2 (Aurora HDR 2018 -> Luminar 2018)

Good news: If you really like your edit, you can save it in a split second by clicking on the “Save Filters Preset” button at the bottom.

Once again, the progression from start to end:

(Original -> Aurora HDR 2018 -> Luminar 2018)

Both Aurora and Luminar are great tools to bring out light, colors, and textures to our images. Give it a try and see how simple it is to have loads of fun editing. You can even try them for free for 14 days.

If you’d like to see more before/after images edited in Aurora, you can have a look at my previous article where I talk about my first experience with the software right here!

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