For a few days the latest version of Aurora HDR from MacPhun is available. This new version is not only for Mac, it’s also for Windows. I got a review version for testing.
Yesterday, while out with my photographers roundtable, I visited a former coal mining building, now a museum. That mining buildings are notable because of its wonderful architecture made from brick-stones. The mine was open from 1899 – 1955.
Most of the time I was inside the machinery hall, a very modern building for that time, but with an unusual architecture style for a mine. Many parts inside reminded me to the movie “Metropolis” by Fritz Lang from 1927.
Being inside a quite dark building on a dark and rainy day gave me the opportunity to take some images by using bracketing. That is a technique where you’re taking one image just the way the light meter says, but two (or more) additional images with exposure correction (+ and – i.e. 1 or 2 EV) to develop them later with HDR or DRI software like Aurora HDR. Often HDR or DRI images have over-saturated bonbon colours, which I don’t like. So, you don’t see many of them here in my blog.
While the user interface of Aurora HDR did not change much and the preset sections are also still available, I won’t waste too much time on these parts. Have a look at my last review.
I want to focus on the new results and an unexpected feature I discovered: distortion control. The export results are much better in quality, than in the original version. I like the resulting colours more and the results don’t have so much noise in it. The auto-alignment feature works quit good. But ist’s still better to have exact aligned images by taking them with a tripod instead of free-hand. The distortion control feature is nice. I’m using DxO Viewpoint for distortion control. The results are great. Compared to Viewpoint, Aurora is too complicated. Here they have some work to do.
When you own some other tools from MacPhun, you can use them as plugins inside Aurora HDR and vice versa. They are also available as plugins inside Photoshop.
Earlier this week I published a collage containing my top 10 images from last years Monochrome Madness, an open competition with only monochrome images. I got a few questions, how I was able to create it.
As usual, there are several options to create such collages. Some of the options might be Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, GIMP* or Scribus*. (* these apps are open source and available for free legally!) I uses something completely different: Collage Factory Free. This is the light version of a software specialized for creating collages. The light version does not have all features of the complete version. Thus you might call it CrippleWare! Despite this, it has enough features for me.
First of all, you select a template. You can always modify the collage by adding further images, delete place holder or re-arrange them. You can also change the size and the angel simply by clicking on one of the blue dots in the edges of a frame and pull it or click on the red dot above the frame and spin it around as long as you like it.
Next, you select your images and pull them in the free space on the left. From here, you distribute them manually with your mouse or click on one of the automatic buttons in the upper left area (“fill random” and so on) I usually distribute them on my own.
Now, you can add a text box, if you want to. You can use every installed font. The software goes you some effects to add, like shadow, border or fillings.
Not everyone like the default background. That’s ok! You can change it. the app comes with many different option for the background: simple colors, color gradients, patterns and background images. You can even chose your own image for the background.
The last step is choosing the image size for the final image ind jpg format. Here we have the strongest restrictions in the software. There are only very few sizes available in the free version. For me, it’s enough. But, decide on you own. Don’t forget to save the creation in the edible format of the app, too. So you can change parts later, if you don’t like your original creation. The file format is a structure, that contains even the selected image. So, you can even move the edible file i.e. to an external storage and won’t loose one of the used images.
I attached screenshots from the app of a complete workflow. I created a collage from my Cuba images.
If you try the software on your own, please let me know, if you like it and, maybe, you can publish your creations somewhere and leave me a link to it. I’d like to see your creations!
Sylvester is the perfect time for a review. I picked my personal highlights from the last 12 months and assembled a small movie for you. It’s a bout 3 minutes long and contains my favorite images taken during the last year in a random order. So, have fun!
(btw, I have a hint for you: in the lower right corner of the movie player you can find an icon for enlarging the movie up to 1080p)
I’m looking forward for some more interesting adventures. You, too?
I got the opportunity to test it. As I mentioned in that post, I use HDR sometimes to enhance some of my images. Until now, I worked with Photomatix HDR, Luminance HDR, HDR Efex, Oloneo PhotoEngine and the build-in HDR function of Photoshop. All of these are great. So, why another software?
First of all, Aurora HDR can open RAW files. The other tools only work with TIF or JPG files (never try HDR with a bundle of JPG files!!). Next, it will align your images if necessary and remove ghost artifacts as well as chromatic aberrations. It also works great with a single image, although this is not the common situation when it comes to HDR 🙂
The image alignment and ghost artifacts removal functions work really great. The above image consists of 3 single images +/- 1EV and were all shot hand-held, because it was an unplanned shot. Thus, I didn’t have had a tripod with me. While the alignment function shifts the images in layers in a manner, so that all lines are in the exact same positions, the ghost artifact removal function tries the same with moving elements. You know, taking a few images in a row, moving elements (i.e. the people in the above image) are moving further and the software hast to estimate, which parts to keep for the final image and which parts to skip.
The GUI is very similar to the other MacPhun tools, like Tonality, Intensify and so on. In the lower right corner you get a collection of presets grouped in categories as a starting point. At to bottom of your screen, you can see a small preview of a the pre-sets applied to you current image. You can suppress this area, once you have chosen a preset. Now, you work with the sliders on the right of your screen to adjust the settings inherited from the chosen preset. Each change is displayed at once. So, you can see, what you get when changing a setting. An other similarity to the other MacPhun products is, you can work with layers. This is, you can paint an enhancement in parts of the image, while having a different setting for other parts of your image. So, you can work in layers without Photoshop. On the other hand, Aurora HDR will also work as a plugin for Photoshop (just like the other MacPhun products, too)
Although it comes with many presets, I miss some of the typical HDR presets available in the other tools. Those, with the over the top colorful output. OK, I won’t ever use them, but I guess, some guys out there will complain about it. In my opinion, there are enough presets. Finally, you will end up using only a few of them on a regular basis, those fitting most to your personal style. And, you have the option to save your own presets and eventually exchange them with your friends.
Jump over to MacPhun and get your trial. You can also apply for a free seat and attend a webinar to see this software in action. Currently there’s a Black Friday Promo running ’till December 1st.
Hey guys, you know, I do monochrome photos quite often. Most of the times I use Tonality Pro by MacPhun for doing my post processing for my black-and-white photographs. Last night I got an email saying, there is currently a special promotion for getting this wonderful piece of software with a 25% discount. Go over to the MacPhun webstore, process your order as usual and then use the coupon code JulySpecial25 to redeem your discount. The coupon is valid until end of July.
There are also 2 bundles available: One is with Intensify Pro and the other with Noiseless Pro. These are also great tool for your post processing.
As always, you can download the software for free to test them for a few days, before buying.