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Integrating Aurora HDR into your photo editing workflow

I use Lightroom Classic for the vast majority of my post-processing work. I like to use the software package as my overall working hub and then shoot images out to other programs as necessary. As long as the images come back into Lightroom then it is easy for me to always find them and organize them into folders, collections and slideshows.

I’ve been using HDR software for quite a number of years including programs such as Nik HDR Efex Pro, Photomatix Pro, Photoshop and Lightroom’s HDR processing tools. This newest version of Aurora HDR is a great product and I think that it matches up with the best of the HDR software in the industry.

Integrating HDR software into your normal workflow doesn’t have to be very difficult especially when you use HDR as a plug-in for your normal image editing program. Aurora HDR operates either as a stand-alone software package or as a plug-in for these programs:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Lightroom Classic
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements
  • Apple Aperture (Note: Aperture will no longer run on macOS after 10.14)

Download a free trial of Aurora HDR 2019.

Mac users can also operate Aurora HDR as an editing extension in Photos for Mac. This will allow you to use it on your computer as an additional editor within the Photos for Mac application.

YouTube video

Installing Aurora HDR as a plugin for Lightroom Classic

Using Aurora HDR is a plug-in for Lightroom and Classic is very simple and straightforward. Follow these steps below:

  1. Open Aurora HDR as a standalone program
  2. Click on the Aurora HDR 2019 pull-down menu
  3. Choose Install Plugins…

  1. From the menu, choose what software you want to install Aurora as a plugin
  2. Click Install…

  1. Click Done
  2. Close Aurora HDR program

The next time you open up Lightroom Classic, Aurora HDR will be installed as an export option.

Using Aurora HDR from Lightroom Classic

My workflow is to import photos into my Lightroom Classic catalog. Once there, I select the images that I will be working with and mark them with some kind of tag. For images that I will continue to Post process his HDR photos, I select them by holding down the control or command key and clicking on the photos in the sequence. Then, I right-click and choose Export > Aurora HDR 2019 > Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments or Open Source Files.

Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments applies your Lightroom adjustments to the image before opening it in Aurora. It bakes in the develop panel settings, converts the image to a TIFF, then sends it over to Aurora for the HDR process. Open Source Files takes your original files without any Lightroom adjustments and opens them in Aurora to complete the HDR process.

Inside of Aurora HDR, I make my adjustments using the very robust tools available in the software package. When I’m finished, I click Done and Aurora saves the image as a TIFF and then reimports it back to Lightroom Classic, where I can then continue to finish the image as necessary.

HDR philosophy

I encourage you to be gentle with your HDR processing. It is very easy to go overboard so that the resulting image just doesn’t look right. My approach is to move the sliders in the HDR software until I like the look, then back off 10% to 20% for the final image.

Newer cameras have an impressive dynamic range and I am finding more and more that I like to do my HDR processing on a single image rather than a series of images. In the past, I would shoot three to five, or even seven bracketed exposures to get the dynamic range I will need for my final image. Anymore with my modern cameras, I find myself exposing single images in the field so that I don’t blow out the highlights, then use HDR software to pull out all of the shadow detail.

Summary

Integrating HDR imaging software into your normal workflow is a cinch these days, especially if you use Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop or Apple Photos. I encourage you to try the new version of Aurora HDR as I’m positive you’ll find the user interface to be simple and the resulting image quality to be excellent.

Download your own copy of Aurora HDR 2019 at skylum.com.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I’m always happy to help.

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