When I went to Ireland a few years back, I was simply amazed at some of the views I was able to see. But at the time, I was using a new camera that I wasn’t totally familiar with — the Panasonic Lumix GH5 — and I had limited time at each location I photographed.

While I worked heavily on my photos once I returned home, I realize now that there’s a much, much easier way to get a starting point for your travel images.

Forget the brackets

Ireland had some wildly changing weather each day. One minute it’d be sunny with a gentle breeze, while the next it would start to pour with a heavy wind. I also had plenty of shots with a blown-out, white sky.

I learned to bracket like it was my job on that trip, typically taking 3- or 5-shot brackets in-camera. Back at home, I put them together using Aurora HDR.

But it turns out I didn’t need to spend all that time combining the brackets into one. Instead, I could just take the regular exposure into Aurora HDR and let it do the work for me!

You’ll see in the example above how the blown-out sky was completely transformed. This is with no other adjustment made to the photograph! Once Aurora HDR processes the photo, I can then go about making other tweaks to my image — things like using the Smart Tone and Polarizing tools in Aurora HDR to add a little bit extra “pop” to my image.

Like I said, it works great on sunny day photos as well. This photo is one I had already edited in Lightroom Classic, and was pretty happy overall. But there were still some pretty harsh shadows on the buildings. I brought this into Aurora and it really helped to balance out the highlights and shadows in the image.

Great indoors, too

When I went to visit a few of the cathedrals throughout Ireland, it was pretty dark with inconsistent lighting. And of course, tripods weren’t allowed. So I bracketed those shots too.

If only I had known …

You’ll see that opening the photograph in Aurora HDR brought back some of the blown out highlights in the stained glass windows, and also boosted the shadows. The photograph was much more balanced.

From there, I was able to use Aurora HDR as a RAW editor and finish my photograph by bumping things like saturation to bring the photo to life.

So the next time you’re traveling — or even if you’re just a few minutes away from home photographing a tough lighting scene — check out Aurora HDR! You can save $20 through July 1, 2020 with the code PHOTOFOCUS20.