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.

 

 

Aurora

Choose your Photos to work with in Aurora HDR 2017

 

Aurora

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.

PowerPhotos for Apple Photo Libraries Merge

Goodbye Aperture – Hello Apple Photos

PowerPhotos merge libraries

The best thing for me about Aperture, is the facility to use the plug-ins from various other third-party applications. Third-party plug-ins from HDR application Photomatix, Intensify Pro, Tonality, Topaz Impression and Noiseless, to mention just a few. It is useful to have all your photos in one place. When you process photos in a different application via a plug-in, the image goes away and comes back to the same place as a copy. It does the round-trip automatically and you don’t have to worry about bringing in the changed photo you had to first of all export out in the first place. We don’t have that functionality yet in the new Apple Photos application, but I expect it will come at some point in time. It’s going to be necessary to make the jump from Aperture one of these days as it is no longer being updated or improved. We just need to be patient for the functionality of Photos App to catch up with what was available in either Aperture or iPhoto previously. In the meantime, we can look at a couple of applications to help us get better use out of the Apple Photos application. There are two such additions we can look at from Fat Cat Software – PowerPhotos and iPhoto Library Manager. I’ve already used a third-party application, PhotoSweeper, for finding duplicate photos which worked extremely well. Finding duplicates is also offered by PowerPhotos.

Analyse your libraries in Power Photos

Create and manage

Fat Cat Software PowerPhotos

With this application create and manage multiple libraries. This is extremely handy if you have a limit on the amount of space available on the iCloud photo storage. It also means you can archive off photos you don’t need to look at very often. It’s also makes it easy for you to organise your photos into categories or projects.

Find your photos

You don’t even have to have the Apple Photos application open in order to do a quick browse and search. Either search through a single library or find what you need from multiple libraries. You get a detailed list of your photos which includes a good presentation of the photo meta data. You have lists of photos showing the dates, keywords, descriptions and faces as well as one or two other things besides. From there you can reveal the photo you’re looking for either in Photos or directly in the Finder. Once you’ve found the photo you’re looking for, do the right click and send it off to Affinity Photoand do what you need to do with it.

Bringing it all together

You could have a number photo libraries either in Aperture or in iPhoto you need to bring into Apple Photos. With PowerPhotos you can automate your migration of these photo libraries into the new application.

PowerPhotos A Worthy Addition to Apple Photos

We have so many photos to take care of these days, due to us using our iPhones and even iPads to take photos as well as with our larger digital cameras. It’s necessary for us to have the best software to store and categorise our photos to make them easy to find and to work with. Apple Photos is not yet up to full strength, but it will be, given time. In the meantime we can make things better by using applications such as PowerPhotos. The application itself is not terribly expensive at $20 and seems a worthwhile addition to your photo management tools. It’s still going to be necessary to do a manual export out of Photos App and an import of the photo when you’ve dealt with it in applications such as Affinity Photo. It’s not going to be too difficult to use some automation on your Mac using applications such as Hazel, Keyboard Maestro and maybe even Automator or AppleScript to keep on top of the organisational process. With some work arounds it will be good to make use of the Apple Photos App to manage our photo libraries.

Good and Geeky Photography Book

Buy the Book

Instagram and Mextures

Fishy Lishy Metalishy

A photo posted by David Allen (@wizardgold) on

Layers

I’ve been looking at what can be done with the Instagram photographic social network and I’ve been trying out a couple of new photo applications on my iPhone. One application I’ve been looking at will let you make a collage of three or four photographs together to present your images. The application is called Layout and is free with some in-app purchases available.

Mextures

I made another image using the application Mextures and I like this application because I can choose a number of effects and apply them in layers to the image. On this one, I used the light leak which adds a flare to the image. This worked out rather well as there was already a certain amount of light flaring from outside which was the morning sun.

Got the book on Kobo

Book_Cover_Geeky_Writer_-_Blue_400

It took a while to get it sorted and there were problems which turned out to be due to me using two different browsers. Then I didn’t get an email to let me know when it was online ready for sale. Next issue comes when I use Chrome browser to go to the Kobo Writers life to check on the book it wants me to go through the signup process every time. I’ve learned now that it is probably a cookies problem. So I go to the site using Safari now and everything is working. Even so, it is cool to have the book up on another site for sale. I put it the same price as on Amazon but as I write this it should be changed to suit the three-day sale at ninety-nine cents. Having a birthday celebration today and giving the book away for free if you don’t want to spend 99 cents. Get the book for free before it goes back to full price on Sunday. The Geeky Photography Book is free today on amazon too.

Good and geeky Book 1 – Geek Photography

Good and Geeky Photography

Geeky Photography Book

The first of the Good and Geeky books is online and available to buy. I am delighted to get it out there and it felt like I would never get finished a few times. I have read through it so many times now it is making my head spin. Each time I find something to give a little tweak to or I find another spelling mistake or a typo. I used the Hemingway application on my Mac to help me make the sentences were as readable as possible. There is still one chapter I would like to add to it later and I will be adding a chapter when the Photos app comes out from Apple. It feels really exciting to have a book in the store now. I can finally say I’m an author although getting a few sales will help me confirm that to myself. I have added the book to KDP Select which means that it can be borrowed by the Amazon customer that use the Kindle Lending Library.

Buy The Book – UK Store

In the book I cover my move to the Sony NEX 6. I have chapter about Mac applications I use with my photos on my Mac. There are links to 12 photography based Mac app tutorials. I look at ways you can get your photography mojo back again if you have lost the creativity you once had. Suggestions to beat the photographers equivalent of writers block.

Buy The Book – US Store

Good and Geeky Writers WorkFlow

This book is in the final stages too. I am giving it another read through before I submit it to the Kindle store too. The next book I work on will be covering the topic of email encryption. It will be a very hands on how to guide style of book and a few explanations to go with it all. I get a lot of interest in my GPG tutorials I have on the Wizardgold YouTube Channel.

A geeks guide to photography

This book is a collection of articles about  photography with the geek in mind. It started off as a number of articles that were published on the Spondicious photography website and has been added to with more unpublished new articles. The premise of the book is how to be a more creative photographer using technology and the geekiness.  There is a Mac  and Apple bias and there are a number of videos that are connected to this book showing how to the use whatever is at hand to make better photos.

On Camera Flash Stinks – Learn to use off camera

Getting the best from your camera flash

One of the first things that you have to learn when you are getting into photography is that using the flash on camera is generally not a good thing to do. This doesn’t necessarily mean that using a flash is bad, but you do have to know how to use strobe lighting properly. Quite often when you take a photo using the on camera flash you will find that the subject is completely blown out and will have horrible highlights and shadows that generally make your photos look terrible. You can do some things to improve the situation by using tricks to soften the light from the flash on your camera. You can use little tools which will deflect the light off walls and ceilings in the room which will also soften it. A better route to take would be to use off-camera flashes that are controlled by wireless. The way to do this is to get the wireless sender that you put onto the hot shoe on your camera (My Sony NEX 6 has a hot shoe)and then have receivers which you connect to the flashes which you place in better positions for lighting your subject. To a certain extent this is much like the way that you go for three point lighting when you are shooting video. You will have a key light which is the main light to light your subject on one side and then on the other side you will have a fill light. You can do it with just the two lights but you could also put a light behind your subject which helps your subject to stand out from the background. There you have your three-point lighting.

Following the advice of the Strobist

There is a photographer called David Hobby who has a website called Strobist and here he has loads of information about how to use these off camera flashes or strobe lights. There is a Strobist 101 lighting course which will give you all of the basics that you need to learn how to use your flash lighting. I bought two of the Nikon SB25 flash units and I also got receivers plus a wireless controller. You can get some really interesting effects using even these small battery-powered devices. You do need to spend some time learning how to use these devices and getting the settings just right for your photos.

Liam on rock 00331

Shooting in the direction of the sun

One general piece of advice when you are taking photographs is to have the sun behind you when you are taking the shot this is so that you have a better lighting for your subject who is facing into the sun. Although sometimes all you get is a person who is squinting which doesn’t necessarily look so good and you won’t fix that in post processing. What you can do with off-camera strobe lights is to have the sun behind your subject and then use the flashes to light the subject. I have found that these sorts of photos will give some stunning effects in terms of how the subject looks in relation to the lighting of the background.

There will be more about this subject in the Geeky Photographer book when it is published.

My Favourite type of Photography – HDR

HDR photography tutorial – weirdo HDR image

We have all seen them! That strange looking HDR image with the over saturated wild looking colours. Or there are those HDR images which are so sharp that they might cut you, with all the details enhanced and emphasised. There is a well-known photographer on the Internet by the name of Trey Ratcliff who goes by the name of Stuck in Customs. Trey has made a name for himself with the HDR image, producing some stunning looking photographs from all around the world. Some of these images from Iceland are particularly amazing. Even if we can’t all have the opportunity to travel around the world in order to make amazing photography HDR style, we can still learn how to make the HDR images ourselves. If you check out the website for Stuck in Customs you will be able to find a HDR photography tutorial. This will answer all of your questions about what is HDR photography.

 

 

Villa Mas

What is HDR photography?

With the HDR photography you are extending the visual range of your photograph. Usually the way to do this is to take 3 to 5 shots of the image with the exposures bracketed. So you will have one photograph where the image is overexposed, another photo where the image is underexposed and one where the image is correct in terms of exposure. Then you will use software such as the Hdrsoft’s Photomatix Pro to merge these photos together. You will then have a photograph which is your HDR image, giving you more visual information in the shadows and the highlights. The overexposed photograph gives us the information back in the places where it would be otherwise blown out. The underexposed photo uses the information in the shadows that would be too dark in the standard image. Mixing these two photos together with the standard exposure photo gives us a much wider range of tonal information for our final HDR photo.

 

Over done HDR

Easy does it with HDR

Judging by the many examples of the HDR image around the Internet you’ll understand that it is quite easy to overdo it. While the HDR image is often going to be a little bit strange to the eye and more a piece of photographic art than a faithful rendition of your natural scene, there is no need for it to be completely stupid looking. Fortunately with the HDR software that many people use called Photomatix Pro, there are settings which allow you to achieve a wide range of effects. You can still go for something that might look silly, but you can also do something that will just make a great looking HDR image.

 

 

The first stage of the process is to choose whether you want to go for enhanced details or a fusion style of HDR image. Once you have made that decision you will be presented with a variety of choices in the form of sliders and switches that will affect your final image. Even without using a HDR photography tutorial you will soon find some favourites within the style of photograph that you can create. When you start using Photomatix Pro you will more than likely use all of the different presets available before finding some combinations that suits your photography best. Practice using the Photomatix Pro application and you will soon be able to make your own stunning HDR photographs. You can get something that looks like HDR in Intensify Pro.

Being a Geek Photographer

I’m sure that it is true to say that once you get into photography proper, then you are automatically a geek photographer. You won’t be able to help yourself, there will be lots of gadgets and equipment to buy for your photography and then on top of that you will need to have a wide array of software for the postprocessing of your amazing pics. It is also quite possible that you will be inducted into one camp or the other and that is usually either Canon or Nikon although you could be a rebel like myself and go for something like the Sony mirror-less cameras. Even though there are settings on these cameras that will be totally automatic and can give you a really good picture most of the time, you will want to use the semiautomatic or fully manual settings to really do the job properly. You will not be happy just allowing the camera to choose for you the settings that are going to influence your photograph. Then of course, there is so much reading that has to be done to learn as much as possible about photography and photographers, that it is almost a full-time job. You might think that I am saying all of this in that it is a bad thing, but not at all, it is quite fun to be a geek photographer.

Where to get started

Seeing as just about all of us now carry around a camera in our pocket in the form of a smart phone, then that is obviously the best place to get started with your photography. When you are using your iPhone or your Android smart phone or even your Windows phone if that’s the way that you roll, you can get some great photos. The equipment doesn’t really matter, what is most important is that you develop the photographer’s eye. This is the way that you look at the world and decide on finding things in it that will translate perfectly to an interesting and artistic image. Even when you are snapping shots at the birthday party you will also want to be looking for the best angle and good lighting. It is what us geek photographers do.
Sony mirrorless NEX6
Once you have become hooked on taking photos and recording the world in two dimensions, then it is only natural that you will want to get more geeky and get better technology. The truth is, is that there are benefits to having some of the latest photographic technology that widens the range of what you can do with your images. There will be cameras like the NEX-6 that has better software within, that allows you to capture a wide range of light. This handy little camera also has in camera applications that you can add, so that you can put more artistic interpretations on the pictures that you take. Just as an example, there is the partial colour setting which allows you to take a picture that is in black and white all apart from one specified colour such as blue, or you might choose to highlight any reds in the image. I have even been known to experiment with the Sony application on the NEX-6 which turns the photo into an illustration. It is quite a cool effect to play with! Get more Spondicious Photography News.

Postprocessing to turn your photos into art

I have all of my photos in Aperture on my Mac and from this application I can send photos to plug-ins which will turn these photos into something special. Intensify Pro for the Mac is an excellent application. I am one of those photographers that is not interested in merely capturing a version of reality as seen by myself and the camera as the photograph was being taken. What I want to do is to turn a photograph into a work of art and for me that often means to have bright, richly coloured extravagant images that grab the eye. To this end for some time now, one of my favourite types of photography has been HDR photography. For this I set the camera to take three images at the same time. The first one is at the correct exposure and then I do one that is two stops overexposed and another that is two stops underexposed. I then use the Photomatix Pro software to merge these photographs together so that it brings out the information that is in the shadows and also has the information that would be burnt out in the highlights.

Spondicious Geek Photography Book coming soon

On account of the fact that I have written an awful lot of articles about using Mac postprocessing applications for photographs and photography in general, I have gathered these together into a book. Not only is the book full of excellent information about how to work with your photos that you have taken, but there is also hours of video tutorials included. I have added some articles to this that have never been published anywhere else. Before I have finished and published I will also add a couple more videos that will be only for the readers of the Spondicious Geek Photography Book.

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