Outdoor and highly contrasted pictures can be quite a challenge to balance in post-production. Recover details and enhance your style with this HDR portrait editing tutorial for harsh midday light.

HDR … portrait?

You’ve read it right. HDR (High Dynamic Range) means “a high level of contrast.” And high contrast not only happens in landscapes! I’ve recently had a skate photoshoot with an awesome athlete. What was equally awesome was the only time we were both available to do it … at 12:30 p.m.

We all dream of sunrises, sunsets and cloudy days. But you know. Life happens. Was I going to let this cool opportunity pass? Certainly not! Here’s how I managed to edit these action shots with the help of Aurora HDR.

Single image HDR editing Aurora
You can import a single image to create an HDR.

HDR is possible with a single image

No tripod or bracketing? No problem! HDR editing can be achieved with a single exposure photo. This is great news for all of us sports, animals and event photographers who are dealing with constantly moving subjects.

My favorite HDR portrait editing workflow

1. Import your image

Drag and drop your picture in Aurora HDR. The engine will automatically generate an HDR from it, which is a great base to start with.

2. Have fun with tools

There are MANY tools available in Aurora’s workspace. Some of my favorites are LUT Mapping, HDR Enhance, Vignette and HDR Details Boost. I love to paint precise areas to really tweak it the way I like. Make sure to have a look at my sundae technique to learn more about layers and masking!

Aurora HDR workspace
I stack multiple layers and masks to create a very stylized look.

3. Export and share it

Once you’re happy with the results, export it to your favorite file format. You can also open it seamlessly in LuminarAI, Lightroom Classic or Photoshop to keep on perfecting it. (It also works the other way around: You can open Aurora HDR as a plugin from any of this software.)

Much better, isn’t it?

While we can’t predict or control outdoor lighting situations, we surely have power to fix most of it in post. Master this HDR technique, explore backlighting and don’t ever be afraid to have a midday photoshoot again!