BEST MAC HDR SOFTWARE
In 2016 Macphun released their first version of AURORA HDR PRO, a MAC photo editing app only (sorry PC users) and it was co-designed and engineered by none other than PRO HDR Photographer Trey Ratcliff. Having a software designed by a photographer meant that you will find that is posses many of the tools you wish a HDR software had and many that you didn’t even know you needed but once you had them you can’t live without! They’ve since released a 2017 version of Aurora HDR which comes with even more tools and goodies and boasts a faster processing engine.
If you’ve got a MAC and you want to try the best HDR photo editor for it than give AURORA HDR PRO a try here!
Special Discount to my Readers! 15% off using the coupon code LukeZeme
BEST PC HDR SOFTWARE
The best HDR software for the PC is Photomatix Pro. It has set the standard for HDR software for many many years now. What’s great about the software is that it offers up a lot of settings that let you craft the exact type of HDR you want.
If you want to give it a try I suggest you get the Photomatix PRO version as it will allow more flexibility and options when it comes to creating HDR images. They offer a free trial also, so you can’t lose!
Discount to my readers! 15% off discount using the coupon code LukeZemePhotography
I have been using this Photomatix PRO software many years now and the great part about it is that when you purchase a copy the updates are free for the next 2 years!
How to use Photomatix Pro
HDR video tutorial (30 minutes) teaching people how to use Photomatix Pro here and the great thing about it is you can actually use 1 image in Photomatix now, but it is best to use a bracket of images. e.g. 5 or 7 images. I often use 5 because the Sony A7r has sucha great dynamic range.
After you have made your tonemapped image you will want some plugin software and the great thing about them is you can pick up a few.
– Topaz Clarity and Adjust 5 – Stylisation software from Topaz. Topaz offers my readers a 15% discount using the code LukeZemePhotography
– DeNoise- This powerful plugin comes with plenty of presets to remove noise from your photos. It’s a must have for HDR Photographers! My readers a 15% discount using the code LukeZemePhotography
Bonus Tutorial- Removing Ghosts in Photomatix
Ghosting is also an issue for new users to HDR photo editing. This is when you have objects moving through your images like a people walking or cars. I have also made a Video tutorial teaching people how to remove these ghosts in their HDR image using Photomatix Pro
HDR LUMINOSITY MASKING
I wanted to add a separate section here for HDR Luminosity masks, also known as digital blending, as they are completely different post-processing techniques used to make an HDR image.
What is Luminosity masking? Well it is a technique done in photoshop. It requires a set of actions and plugins to work and it involves using the various luminance masks of your image to mask in sections from a set of bracketed photos.
I myself am amazed at how powerful the techniques are but be warned they will take you longer to make an HDR image than using Photomatix Pro.
If you click the image below you will be forwarded to a list of HDR Luminosity mask and Photography Video tutorials available. The prices are very affordable and allow you to download and watch all the videos at your own pace. I suggest getting the Masterclass Pack.
Find out more here Link to Luminosity masks and HDR Video Tutorials by Jimmy Mcintyre
HDR SHOOTING PROCESS
I’ve been doing HDR photography for a few years now and the process of making a HDR image is a very enjoyable experience. It’s everything from going out to explore a new city with my camera to experimenting with post-processing techniques back on my computer. So, with time I have gained experience in the field and in editing techniques and I thought it would be a good idea to bring together this process into one post.
The process of making a HDR image begins with an idea! There are many ways to shoot a scene and then process the images but there are a million ways each of these can be done and this is where you get to play and have fun…
But if you were to break it down into its simplest form it’d look something like this:
(1) Location Scouting > (2) HDR Shooting > (3) HDR Post Processing
If Post-Processing is a new term to you then don’t worry! It simply is a phrase used for digital photo editing. So any adjustments you make to an image in Lightroom, Photoshop or any other photography software is all Post-Processing or PP for short.
I always start by visiting two of the great photo communities Flickr and 500px and use their search bar for locations, e.g. Sydney Harbour Bridge. Many of the images are also geo-tagged so you can see where the photographer took them from.
For Further reading on Location Scouting I suggest this post I wrote called “Finding Great Landscape Locations, Tips”
HDR shooting will depend on the type of camera you have as to how you make the HDR bracket of images. Some of the top of the line DSLR cameras like the Nikon D800 have auto-bracketing software built into the camera where you can shoot up to 9 bracketed images at the press of the shutter. But most cameras are going to need you to do the hard work when shooting the bracket and input each shot manually. The most important thing to remember is that all the shots must be done in Aperture priority mode and from a tripod. You can shoot them handheld but the slightest movement from you means that the images won’t line up in your HDR software, so it’s best to be safe and use a tripod.
For those that want to learn how to shoot their images manually here is the video I shot explaining how to adjust your settings to shoot a HDR Bracket