Take nothing for granted! HDR is not just for high-contrast outdoor scenes or extended dynamic range photography. It can also give interiors a unique, rich and dramatic look, often without the visible ‘fakery’ of outdoor HDR.
No-one knows what an indoor scene should look like, so they have nothing to compare it to when it’s had the HDR treatment. That’s not to say that you should use it to fool people – what I mean is that indoor HDR doesn’t always have that obviously ‘processed’ look of outdoor HDR shots.
I took this picture in a church in Porto. It looked pretty spectacular at the time, but applying HDR software has given it a richness and a depth and a spectacle that I still find quite amazing even now. As you will have gathered, I love this image, so I apologise for going on about it.
It’s been processed in Aurora HDR, which was and is the best HDR software there is – but that’s just my opinion. It’s published by Skylum Software, which is heavily occupied right now with Luminar and the soon-to-be-released Luminar AI, so it’s probably not surprising that Aurora HDR 2019 has not been updated – there’s no Aurora HDR 2020, or even 2021 in sight.
The lack of updates is mildly concerning, especially for new camera RAW support. But I prefer to use Aurora 2019 as a Lightroom Classic plug-in so that I can ‘pre-process’ RAW images before sending them to Aurora 2019 as 16-bit TIFFs, so it hardly matters if the RAW support isn’t updated. Lightroom (for all its faults) is good at lens corrections, chromatic aberration removal and dynamic range recovery, so that these days I rarely shoot bracketed exposures for HDR and rely instead on the latent shadow and highlight detail in RAW files.
• Read more: How to use Aurora HDR with Lightroom as a plug-in
With this shot I applied Auto adjustments in Lightroom and then sent the image to the Aurora HDR plug-in. Aurora HDR has a lot (a LOT) of manual adjustments, but I prefer to just skim through the presets, choose one I like and work from there. For this image, all I did after choosing a preset was open the HDR Denoise panel and apply some noise reduction. It was needed here because the picture was taken on a Sony A6000 which is as sharp as heck despite its age, but pretty poor at high ISO settings (ISO 1600 in this case).
- Aurora HDR 2019 review
- More Aurora HDR articles
- Download Aurora HDR 2019: Save $10/£10 with coupon code “LAWTON”
- HDR can be really effective for interiors
- Skylum Luminar is grabbing all the headlines, but don’t forget Aurora HDR
- Presets aren’t lazy cop-outs. They show you ‘looks’ and ideas that you may never have thought of