Real estate brings its very own set of challenges to making photos to sell a property. Once the photos are captured, another challenge is making the picture look its best without having to have shot brackets for high dynamic range or doing grand and time-consuming work in Photoshop.

My favorite tool for making a single photo look its best is Skylum’s Aurora HDR. I want to stress that this tool works on single photos — no plus and minus brackets needed!

Single frame enhancement

I like the way Aurora HDR helps me quickly turn a single (no brackets) ordinary interior photograph into something more. Here is one from almost the dawn of digital interior photography.

The dark photo above on the left side was tons better just by opening it with Aurora, The rest of the work was done in a minute with the HDR controls in Aurora. Here’s all I had to do:

4 quick adjustments after opening the original are all it took.

Aurora added some awesomeness of its own before I boosted the highlights and shadows in HDR Basic. I used HDR Enhance to add some HDR Clarity and HDR Smart Structure. I reduced and smoothed the image in HDR Denoise. Finally, I bumped the large details in HDR Details Boost. That’s it. Super quick and easy.

Colorful child’s bedroom

My original looked pretty good to me until I opened it and tweaked it in Aurora HDR in less than a minute.

This time I only boosted the Whites in HDR Basic. HDR Enhance got almost equal bumps to HDR Clarity and HDR Enhance. Finally, I popped up the large details in HDR Details Boost. That’s it.

Moody condo kitchen & living room

This interior required a lot of work back in the day a dozen years ago before HDR was a thing. I revisited it to see how long it would take to get it “right” using only Aurora HDR starting with the Architecture Looks that come with it.

I chose View > Show Aurora HDR Looks panel. A filmstrip appears along the bottom showing previews of what each Look does. Click on the word Collections to see the ones that come with Aurora and those that have been purchased.

Collections of Looks above the Looks filmstrip in Aurora HDR

First, I ran each of the interior Looks in the Architectural collection on the original from the camera. The file below has zero adjustments.

The moody condo right out of the camera

These three versions are the result of applying the Looks in Aurora HDR.

Bright Interior Look is the starting place

Of the three Looks above, I like the Bright Interior Look, so that’s the one I started with. Aurora highlights the filters that the Look applies and by clicking the triangle you can see what the Look did and how much. In addition to the Bright Interior Look settings, I added some “extra” to Image Radiance and some tweaks to the ceiling with the Adjustable Gradient. Here’s the result …

Nice, huh? The takeaway is that I did not spend hours getting the results you see in this post. Each one was a matter of a couple of minutes. Aurora HDR is a kick to use and the photographs speak for themselves — a least a thousand words apiece!

Want to see what Aurora HDR can do for your images? Save $10 off when you use the coupon code PHOTOFOCUS.