Aurora HDR 2017 Photography Application

A colourful way of seeing the world

I’ve always liked HDR photos because of the heightened and out of this world style of the colours and ultra-real view it gives me. It reminds me of when I was younger and I got my first pair of Polaroid sunglasses. When I put the glasses on, all the colours seem to be stronger and brighter. The blue of the sky was better than I saw it with my eyes naturally. I’ve always had this artistic nature and a desire to change the representation of what I see to something better. When I created my watercolour paintings I painted trees using blue and red because brown just wasn’t interesting enough. So this is why I love the images I get from HDR photos. I want to be able to see what would be otherwise hidden in the shadows. I need to have the full experience of what’s possible in the highlight areas. With a normal photo and the range of colour available you have to go with what’s in the middle. Or you choose within a range so you see what’s in the light areas and you miss what’s in the shadows. Then again you can choose to see what’s in the shadow areas and the light areas will be lacking due to being blown out. With HDR photos it’s generally better if you take a set of three photos which are bracketed. Bracketing means that one photo will be with two stops of extra light, another with a standard setting and one more with two stops less light. This will give you a wider range of light available for your final image if you can merge them together. This is what we have HDR applications for. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and it can be done within camera or it can be done with software outside of the camera. For years I’ve used an application called Photomatix Pro and it is an excellent application if you know what you’re doing with it. One of the things I would have against it, would be that it sometimes goes overboard in what it offers you for your HDR photos. The other thing I’d have against it, would be that it’s interface is highly technical. For these two reasons I’m delighted to have found the application Aurora HDR 2017.

Aurora HDR 2017

Getting Started with Aurora HDR 2017

Last week I happened to see a bundle of Mac applications available for €10. Included within this set of applications was Aurora. I had briefly tried out the trial version of this HDR software and I’d been impressed with it, but I thought it was a little bit expensive for me. This was partly based upon the fact I already had other HDR software which did the job for me. For this price of €10 it was a no-brainer and I jumped in with both feet to get this bundle of Mac apps. Little did I know that there’s a new version due to come out a couple of days after I’d done this. I could have easily just stayed with the version I’d bought. It worked well with JPEG images. Aurora was giving me excellent results for creating HDR photos from my Mac photos library. I particularly like the way that with Photos App I can go to extensions from the edits menu and jump into third-party applications. I can get into applications such as Affinity Photo (specific parts of the app), Snapheal, Intensify Pro, Tonality and some others. I like being able to have my images all in one place within the Apple Photos application. It means I can organise everything with titles, keywords and descriptions which helps me to find photos later when I need them. I still have a load of photos all key worded from the application I was using previously – Aperture.

Aurora HDR 2017

Created in Aurora HDR 2017 from three bracketed photos

So over a period of a couple of days I created a few HDR photos sand was delighted with the way Aurora worked. It has a well thought out interface and plenty of tools to be creative with. There are a number of presets available, going from the realistic end of the scale to the downright ridiculous HDR style that some people either love or hate. I was loving the application right from the off and I spent a little bit of time watching a couple of how-to videos. There’s a lot of power within the tools and it helps to get up and running by spending some time learning quickly from a tutorial.

My reason to upgrade to Aurora HDR 2017

It wasn’t long before I tried to create a HDR photo using raw files. Raw files are the images as they come out of your camera with the most information possible. None of the information has been compressed as it is with JPEG images. This means you can use editing software to bring out more of what the camera sensor was able to detect. You can even grab a raw photo, singular and put into HDR software and get a great looking photo without needing to do the bracketing. The version of Aurora I had didn’t allow me to use raw photos. There are other advantages on having the pro version of the application and there was an offer to preorder Aurora HDR 2017 for a reasonable price. I still needed some time to think about it and the couple of days I was waiting to decide, Aurora HDR 2017 was released. In the end I decided, what the hell and I went for the upgrade. I watched more videos created by Trey Ratcliffe, the king of HDR photos. Trey was a consultant with Macphun in the making of Aurora and it was his influence that gave us an easy-to-use photographers interface for the application. I’ve been using the application now for three or four days and I’m still delighted with my purchase. No buyers remorse as I feel I’ve got good value for my money in being able to create fantastic HDR images.

HDR Photography with Aurora

Used HDR to give the photo of the landscape more punch. I also used Snapheal app.

Some of the things I love about Aurora HDR 2017

  • An extension which works from photos app.
  • Working with layers with my photos.
  • The ease of painting on a mask.
  • Graduating masking across a photo.
  • Easy-to-use sliders for settings.
  • Useful before and after view so I can see how I much changed the photo.
  • Possibility to choose which original image to compare with.
  • Luminosity masks.
  • Availability of blend modes for the layers
  • It’s great you can do the basic photo adjustment such as tone and colour within the application.
  • Fantastic built-in presets, availability of extra presets and an option to create your own.
  • Excellent compatibility with other applications from the same software maker – Macphun
  • Ease of sharing to social networks and photography sites such as Facebook and SmugMug

Creating a HDR image with Aurora HDR 2017

Most the time I will be starting from the Photos application. How I get started with Aurora will depend upon the format of the photo I want to work with. If I have three bracketed RAW or JPEG photos I select them and use the Export command from the file menu. I find is a good idea to have a folder dedicated specifically to holding these bracketed photos ready for the making of HDR images. For one thing it makes them easier to find when you’re loading photos into the Aurora HDR 2017 application. Secondly when you have finished editing that image you can easily cleanup by deleting those exported originals. You’ll still have the original working files available in the Photos application. You will go to Aurora and load up those three photos. When you load them up you can choose to align photos and there are other options such as de-fringing. Sometimes you can get a colour edge when you have a light source behind your subject. I usually find that this is a blue or purple fringe and it’s good to get rid of that if you can. The other option is to remove ghosting. This might happen when you’re taking a set of three photos and you have objects within, that have moved between one photo and another. Aurora can take care of this. When you’ve made all your decisions about how you’re bringing the photos in you click on the button – Create HDR.




Choose your Photos to work with in Aurora HDR 2017



Choose Additional Settings


Aurora Settings

Check if you want alignment and ghosting taken care of


Working with Aurora 2017 HDR

Working with Photos on the Aurora HDR 2017 Application

The other way to work with an image from Photos is to go into the editing mode. Click on the extensions option at the bottom of the list. If you have enabled it already via the system preferences Aurora will be available for you to use on your photo. When you do it this way you find that the Aurora application opens within Photos. You get all of the functionality from the Aurora application and when you click on save changes you’ll go back to the editing mode of Photos. Click on Done and you’re back into the view where you started in Photos. Obviously, with this you can only work on one photo at a time. When you have more than one photo selected you can’t get into editing mode.

  • Best option – Select three bracketed RAW photos, export them out and then work with them directly in Aurora.
  • Good option – from within the Photos app choose a raw photo, go to the edit menu and then into Aurora via extensions.
  • Good option – You have three bracketed JPEG photos and you drag them and drop them into a folder. Edit directly in the Aurora application.

I suppose it is possible to work with a single JPEG image if that’s all you have. The results you get from that will depend upon how much the image has been compressed within that format. I like working with the single RAW image because that keeps it all within the Photos application. Whenever you’re working directly in Aurora you’ll want to export out of the application and put the results back into Photos application. Keep everything organised, neat and tidy.

Aurora HDR 2017

Partly worked on with Aurora and also in Affinity Photo

The Spondicious verdict on Aurora HDR 2017

As you can tell by the enthusiasm contained within this review of Aurora HDR 2017 I am impressed by the app. I love creating HDR photos and sometimes it makes me happy when I’ve gone over the top. Even those HDR photos that some people hate are a delight to my eyes. You don’t have to go crazy, there are plenty of options available within the presets. You don’t have to work with the presets either. You can dive into the settings in the right-hand panel and fiddle about with the sliders to your hearts content. You get just what you want from a HDR photo even if it’s something that’s highly realistic. The other possibility would be to choose one of the presets that is closest to what you’re looking for and then start working with the adjustment sliders. This application is top notch quality as you will find with the other applications from Macphun.

Tiled Image of the beach colours

Two versions of the photo merged together

Using iColorama to turn a photo into art. Amazing what you can do with the app. You get all sorts of settings to use with the massive number of adjustments, filters and effects. It is an app for creatives because creativity is all about using the tools to create something new and exciting or interesting. I can’t help myself – I have to punish pixels.

The iPhone 6 for serious photography

As much as I love using my NEX 6 Sony mirrorless camera for the quality and the experience of using a proper camera to shoot photos, sometimes it is very quick and handy to whip out the iPhone and take the picture. I do find that it is faster to get to the point where I can shoot a photo with the iPhone. There is a little slider that you can use from the lock screen which will take you directly into the camera application so that you can be ready to shoot within seconds. There are times when I could have the iPhone out of my pocket, picture taken and the phone back in the pocket before I would have got the proper camera booted up and ready to take the picture. Photography though is not just about quick snapshots, it is also about considered photos capturing a specific scene, a delightful composition, a special moment that needs to be set up just right or a piece of photographic art. There is absolutely no reason at all why you shouldn’t use the iPhone to do this sort of photographic work in many situations.

ShoulderPod S1 for iPhoneography

When to use the camera on the phone and when to use the big sensor camera

Seeing as photography is all about catching light, the first question to be asked is about how much light do we have for our photograph. If we have the best light where we know we are going to get a great picture whatever camera use, then why not use the megapixels on our camera phone. We can take advantage of the touchscreen where we can set focusing and the exposure control using our fingers on the screen. Yes, I know there are some cameras that do have touchscreens also.

Always in the pocket.

Another advantage of the iPhone camera is that you always have it with you. I know that my iPhone is always in my pocket and it is good to know that photography is always with me. Well, not always because if the light is low then I know I’m not going to get a good picture from my iPhone. The images get very grainy, very quickly. There are some applications that you can use which will give you more control such as Camera Plus and it is very easy to change from shooting photos to shooting video. With Camera Plus I like the way that I could set the camera up to connect with my iPad. I can put the iPhone in a specific position where I would not be able to see what the camera is seeing, but then connected to the iPad over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth I would be able to control the iPhone camera from the iPad. It is another creative option available.

Paper camera

Camera apps I have on my iPhone and iPad now

  1. Camera Plus
  2. HDR
  3. Pencil Camera
  4. Photosphere
  5. Paper camera
  6. Apple iOS camera app
  7. Is the gram
  8. Slow Shutter
  9. ProCam XL
  11. Hyperlapse
  12. Capture
  13. KinoMatic
  14. Spark
  15. FiLMiC Pro

Some of these applications on the list are more suited to or dedicated to shooting iPhone video. The application I use most of all would be the Apple iOS Camera App and this is because it is the application most easy to get at. It is also the application most used because I am accustomed to the way it works. It is also easy to use and I would have to spend less time researching what each of the settings can do.

IPhone Phopography

Getting the settings correct.

One of the problems of using different applications for different photographic situations is that it is very easy to mess a photo by having the incorrect settings. This could be that the last time you used the application you changed some of the settings to suit a specific purpose. The next time that you pick it up, those settings that were saved from the last time no longer apply to the type of photo you want to take. What would be really handy on any of these photo applications would be to have a button that would quickly take you back to default settings.


The Photosphere and also the HyperLapse application are specific to a specialised branch of photography. I really enjoy taking the photos where it is as if you were inside a bubble and you can do a 360° view of your situation. It is great to be able to post these onto Google+ so that other people can see what it was that you saw.

The joys of iPhone photography

I won’t be giving up my Sony NEX 6 camera any time soon. In fact, only yesterday I took it to my favourite beach nearby and used it for taking photos. I was able to shoot with a long lens of surfers out on the waves. The iPhone 6 camera is good but would not have worked as well for that photo event. What is really good is to have choices of which kit to use for whatever situation and the iPhone 6 is good for that. It gives me extra creative options as well as being the camera that I always have about my person. Long live iPhoneography!

Street Photography portraiture at the Sunday Market

Summertime Blues and other colours

A lot of people look forward to the summer time for various reasons, such as having some time off from work and being able to enjoy better weather. The better weather and the longer days meaning that it is possible to go out and do more things than you are able to do during the wintertime. In some ways, it is the other way round for me during the summertime because I work during the summer in a camping site and I won’t get any time off until October. Working six days a week it becomes quite difficult to find the time and the energy to go out and shoot some photos with my Sony NEX-6 camera. I often find that at the end of a shift of working I’m quite tired or very hungry and all I want to do is to get home and to scratch whichever itch needs scratching. Quite often it will be a case of getting some food and then some snoozing time on the sofa! Last Sunday though, was a good day because I went out to the market and I hung around with my camera amongst all of the people and the fruit and vegetables.

My photographic plan for the market

I had to make a choice between the wide-angle 16mm lens and my 55 to 210 mm zoom lens. With the wide-angle lens I’m able to take pictures of people close up and sometimes they don’t know that I am taking the picture because it is such a wide angle being captured. On the other hand, I can use my zoom lens in a situation like at the market and not necessarily be noticed because people are busy looking at the goods and other people around the market. For this particular trip to the market I decided to go with the long lens and my aim was to do close-up portrait street photography with getting in as close as possible to faces. It turned out to be a particular good choice and the only problem I had was a Moroccan market trader waving at me because he didn’t seem to like having his photo taken. I waved back to him and I moved to somewhere else. I spent a couple of hours, maybe less, taking photos and I was quite pleased with the results when I got back home and put them into Aperture on the iMac. I also did take a few photos of the produce available on sale by themselves as well as the colourful fruits and vegetables being included in my street portraits. See more Spondicious photos on Flickr.

Sitting at the water fountain in the St. Feliu de Guixols marketplace

I bumped up the ISO on the NEX-6 camera even though it was quite sunny because some of the shots that I took, the subjects were in the shade provided by the stalls of the market. This also allowed me to get a fairly high shutter speed while I was shooting in aperture priority mode. There was a guy sitting on a stool in amongst the fruit boxes and the crates and he was just looking around, not working terribly hard. Maybe he had done as much selling for the day as he wanted to. He was just lazily looking around at people in the market and was a perfect subject for some street portraiture. At first I did have the camera set to take multiple shots on pressing the button and this can be quite useful when people are moving, but I found that I didn’t really need it so I turned that feature off.

Although it is possible to stay in one place and wait for the people to go past, which is good if you have a particularly good background to work with, I do like to have a wander around and to find new positions. When I do this I end up with a more varied set photos than if I was to stay in one place. What I was looking for was to find expressive faces that were going to give me an interesting story to tell with the photo. These sorts of expressions tend to occur more when there are two or more people together taking part in a conversation. I saw that there were two old guys having a chat animatedly using their hands as part of the conversation and I was very pleased with the photos I got of these fellas.

Old fella in Market

What! Very little or no postprocessing?

My photos were getting uploaded to Google automatically and I found that a number of the photos were good enough that I didn’t need to crop them or to fiddle with them in any way. All I did was to add a few words to the picture and posted them to various places in Google+. Street Hunters Community is a good place to send some Street photos. Usually I like to do some postprocessing in order to give the photos more umph and power. With a good number of these photos taken in the market I didn’t feel the need to work on them further in Intensify Pro or even use some of the tools available within the editing facilities in Google+. I did crop a couple of the photos where there was a person or even just somebody’s elbow poking into the shot in order to tidy things up slightly.

Fish seller in market

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