Aurora for Aurora

A friend of mine has been using a really cool HDR software and today he let me have a go at it on his Mac. The software is called Aurora HDR by Macphun Software (I believe there there is no Windows version, but I might only see the Mac option as I am on a Mac, as well. Anyone knows?). So, in order to test it out (even if this is anything but a real test!) I decided that to try “the American Aurora” nothing could be better than “the Russian Aurora” and so I took along a few bracketed pictures I had taken of the famous cruiser, shooting from a tripod not to have any alignment problem.

I had first heard about Aurora HDR from famous photographer Ray Tradcliff and I was really curious to give it a go. In general, I am a huge fan of HDR photos that you can’t tell they are HDR. So only a part of Tray Ratcliff work and more along the lines of Elia Locardi, but there is no denying that Trey’s pictures are always interesting, often beautiful and sometimes simply breathtaking.

From what I found playing around, Aurora HDR is extremely intuitive, with a ton of great presets from which to start experimenting with the various looks you can get from your image(s). I also found all of the sliders to be generally more intuitive than, for instance, those of Photomatix (but I’ll admit I am not very familiar with the latter at all, either). What I particularly enjoyed is that when you choose a category for you picture (architecture, landscape, interior and so on) you get a series of previews on the bottom of the creek, with different looks. Each one of them has a slider (only visible when you hover over the preview with your mouse) and you can very quickly “tone down” each and everyone, to get more of a natural look, if you so desire.

I am sure that, had I had more time, I would have figured out a way to get rid of the haloes around the Samsung and Kia Motors huge signs on the building across the river, but I got to the picture above in about one hour, unaided by my friend who was very busy at the time with an on-line game (everybody should know that you can not pause on-line games…) and I am definitely not 100% convinced of the result. But overall I like it, I like how it rendered the cruiser Aurora itself, the water and most of all how it preserved the lovely sunstar from the bow light.

So, as I said at the beginning, this is not a review, but nonetheless, here’s your photo tip: have fun and play around with your post-processing. There is a ton of software you can legally download, for good or for a trial, sometimes funny functional, sometimes limited), and there are endless tutorials on YouTube to watch (and skip when they are boring!) to get you started. You might not be very proud of the results you get, at least at the beginning, but that doesn’t matter much: what counts is that trying different things will give you new inputs for the next time(s) you are out shooting, new goals, new looks you aim to achieve and hopefully they will even make you “re-discover” some old image hidden in your hard drives that looked uninteresting a while back, but that with this new software, maybe….

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