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First look: Aurora HDR 2019 from Skylum

(Editor’s note: Aurora HDR 2019 is a powerful update that has several new, and, frankly, compelling features. Photofocus author Vanelli takes us on a tour of the most significant new addition to this HDR tool. If you’re already an Aurora user, you can upgrade for $59 by clicking here, or you can purchase the full version for $89.)

The team at Skylum Software announced a new version of Aurora HDR today.  It works as both a standalone application and a plugin for other editing tools.  Aurora HDR 2019 is a great way to unlock the maximum dynamic range in any image.  Let’s take a look at what it can do.

AI Tone Mapping is powered by the new Quantum HDR Engine

Tone mapping converts (compresses) the wide dynamic range image into one that is more narrow and can be displayed on a computer monitor. In the past, tone mapping was done manually —   requiring the user to make these changes. Aurora HDR 2019’s new artificial intelligence changes this by using the new Quantum HDR Engine. This new HDR engine analyzes the dynamic range of the image to produce the best starting point to begin HDR processing.

Increase the quality of an image with HDR Details Boost

This filter allows you to control the details of the image, giving you the choice of making the image clearer and sharper or make it softer. This tool is useful for improving the overall quality of the image as well as to increase the quality of the images that will be used in high resolution, such as for printing. Increasing the sharpness can also compensate for lower quality optics used to make the captured image. Innovative technologies allow the HDR Details Boost adjustment to improve image sharpness without increasing digital noise or creating unnatural ghosting or halos in the image. This is a very powerful tool to improve the quality of images.

The classic HDR effect starts with the HDR Enhance filter

Aurora HDR 2019’s HDR Enhance Filter allows adjusting an image’s detail and clarity. Using this tool you can get a classic HDR effect with great detail or get a smoother picture with less detail. This is the main tool to increase micro-contrast of an image and visualize more details.

The tool has three sections: HDR Clarity, HDR Smart Structure, and HDR Microstructure.

HDR Clarity

The HDR Clarity slider is a single slider that adjusts a variety of controls including lighting effects and detail. It offers a special ability to configure balanced image brightness without getting completely white or completely black areas. This has the effect of making the image less realistic and more classically the look a lot of people associate with HDR.

HDR Smart Structure

Increases image detail by revealing the structure and texture of the surfaces in the image. This enhances the image and hidden details appear. This slider adjusts the overall display of details. Moving the slider to the right will accentuate details and make the image more unrealistic.

HDR Microstructure

This section amplifies micro-detail within the image. These are small details that form the surface of any object in the image. They can further enhance details of the image and provide a more vivid artistic HDR effect, however, it can also make the image very noisy.

  • Amount. Increases micro-details and contrast.
  • Softness. Affects the general “softness” and realism of the photo. Moving the slider to the left will cause the image to become very finely detailed and unrealistic.

Give your image a “Cinematic” look by using custom LUTs

A Lookup Table (LUT) allows you to apply preset color recipes to artistically adjust your image. Often you will hear LUTs describe as giving your image a “Cinematic”, “Analog”, and  “Stylized look. In short, a LUT will let you completely change the look of your image with a single filter.

Aurora HDR 2019 comes with 11 customs. You can start with these or load your own Lut file. These can be Luts you have collected over the years or have created on your own. Aurora supports cube, look, 3dl, and csp formats.

Image © Copyright by John Ashton All Rights Reserved
Image © Copyright by John Ashton All Rights Reserved

These are just a few of the new features in Aurora HDR 2019. Click here to learn more and pre-order today!

Want to get an early start once Aurora HDR 2019 ships?

If you are a Photofocus reader and you purchase Aurora HDR through the links on our site, we’ve got you covered. To help you get the most from Aurora HDR, we’ll send you:

  • Aurora HDR 2019 Hands-On Video Training Class
  • Inspiration by Photofocus preset pack
  • 20 Bonus LUTs for Color Grading
  • 10 High-Resolution Textures
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