Believe it or not, I’m still editing photos from my June trip to Ireland. I recently was able to bring some of them into Aurora HDR 2018, to help bring out some of the shadows, tone down the highlights and overall create a much more appealing image. There’s a couple of problems that I ran into with literally every photograph in Ireland. First, the skies weren’t really blue — they were grey for 99% of our time there. Secondly, it was windy, creating a lot of ghosting should I put together an HDR photograph.
One of the must-see locations in Ireland is the Ring of Kerry, a 111-mile trek that basically shows you some of the best and greatest scenery of Ireland. It was super windy that day, sprinkling and very gloomy. But I wanted to create an image that you’d see in a coffee table book, tourism magazine or otherwise — something that showed a bright, amazing landscape!
Get Your Settings Right
I chose a three bracketed images to combine in Aurora HDR 2018. I chose the option for Ghost Reduction, as well as Chromatic Aberration Removal. I also had Alignment turned on — when you’re working handheld with windy conditions, this comes in really handy.
Selecting a Base Preset
When I edit images in Aurora, I always select a starting preset. This is ultimately what will drive the direction of the photograph, and then I’ll be able to stack additional layers on top of it. For this photo, I loaded up the Landscape preset category and chose “Wonderful Land,” which really boosted the saturation of the greener items — maybe a little too much.
Working with Overlay Presets
Once I was settled on my base preset, I clicked the “Overlay Preset” button, which created a new layer on my image. I went to the Captain Kimo presets, and chose “Color Structure.” Initially, this really over-saturated the image. I brought the opacity down on it to 42, which helped to level out the saturation some, bringing back in some of the blue tones.
I was pretty satisfied with the bottom half of my image. But the sky needed some work.
Creating Gradient Masks
I knew I could use a plethora of other presets to make my sky nice and blue, but I didn’t want those effecting the bottom half of my image. I decided to create a gradient mask (Tools > Gradient Mask). This works much like it does in Lightroom, allowing you to draw and adjust the length of the gradient, at any angle you like.
I browsed through a few more recent categories, ending up in the Trey Ratcliff Vol. 1 presets. I went with the preset “Taint Ed Loves” (thank you, Ed). This immediately made my sky blue. From there, I boosted up the HDR Denoise option, as the sky was slightly grainy. I also boosted the exposure and adjusted the highlights so the sky would be a bit brighter. Finally, I added a bit of the Polarizing Filter option to the layer. This made the sky a little more even in terms of exposure.
You can see how easy it is to take an image from zero to hero with Aurora HDR 2018. It’s Overlay Preset and Gradient Masking options make adjustments super quick and easy, and gave new life to some of my Ireland images!