Street photography is such a vast topic and one that’s wide open to interpretations.
My view is that street photography is more of a state of mind than a look or process. For me, street photography is about connecting with people and creating their portrait on the spot. Even with the latest camera, there’s only so much dynamic range the imaging sensor can record so we must compromise: Do we save highlights or shadows?
Most of the time I’m satisfied with stretching out the dynamic range of the RAW file in Capture One, but that takes time. While I dig the results on Capture One, sometimes I just want the image done so I can move on with life.
This is where Aurora HDR enters my workflow. The initial results impressed me, and with a bit of time I was able to perfect street portraits with it.
Quickly increasing dynamic range
Like any other modern photography app, Aurora HDR has more features that most of us will ever use. And that’s OK. For my test, I kept the interface at its default, but it can be customized to suit your style.
Speaking of styles, Aurora has plenty of crazy looking HDR looks built in of which, I found only one that I would use ever so lightly. For my taste, the default settings for all looks are very intense, but you can dial back any look you’re using.
Looks can be purchased for Aurora but there’s also plenty of free options. Plus you can make your own, which is what I suggest. Additionally, you can load in any LUTs you might have for video or still photography, which can be super helpful to keep a consistent look across platforms.
My workflow for street portraits
What I found that works for me is to first, load a RAW file into Aurora HDR and let it process with default settings. Next, load the original image into its own layer, which Aurora will do without any type of adjustment including lens corrections.
Then reduce the opacity of the layer the original image is on to blend in the HDR version which Aurora processed upon launch.
At this point I’ll often go to the bottom layer that’s been given the ol’ HDR treatment to further tweak with some slight desaturation and reduction in contrast then crop and done.
This might appear overly simple for you, but it’s how I like my images to appear if I were to process them in Aurora.
If you have not considered using Aurora HDR yet, definitely download a trial and give it a go. If you like working with HDR images already, then purchasing Aurora HDR is a must. Aurora is simple to get started with, but has enough depth to keep you exploring the darker (or lighter) sides of photography.