Aurora HDR Pro Gets A Pretty Neat Update

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Aurora HDR Pro Gets A Pretty Neat Update

An image of a garden in Hong Kong is opened in Apple Photos and the Aurora HDR Pro extension is open.
Aurora HDR Pro's plethora of editing control, effects and tools is now available to Apple Photos.

If there is one thing I just adore about writing about graphics software, it is the fact that things constantly change. The subject of this “How To” is a great example of this fact of life. Earlier this month I wrote about Aurora HDR Pro and walked you through how to to use this application to create some rather interesting HDR effects.  Early last week I was informed Aurora HD Pro was upgraded to Version 1.2.

This is a pretty interesting upgrade because, among other things, it includes:

  • The ability to be used as an extension in Apple’s Photos application.
  • Improved RAW file handling if the file is opened in Aurora HDR Pro
  • Improvements to the Photoshop and Lightroom plug ins to support keywords and metadata
  • An improved Masking brush.
  • Improved support for for 11-inch and 13-inch displayed at multiple resolutions.

If you have already purchased the application, open the application and select Aurora HDR Pro >Check for updates … and the update process will start.

If you have never used this application, you can still download a Demo version of the application which will install the new version.

The feature that really caught my attention was the ability to use Aurora HDR Pro 1.2 as a Photos extension. Last week I did a rather comprehensive overview of Machun’s tools in Photos. This update gives me the opportunity to, both, revisit Aurora HDR Pro but to extend the editing features of Apple Photos.

Let’s get started.

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How To Install Aurora HDR Pro As An Apple Photos Extension

The Apple Photos Preferences Window is open and Aurora HDR Pro is selected
Installing Aurora HDR Pro as an Apple Photos extension is dead simple.

The first step in the process is to launch Photos. When Photos opens, select Image>Show Edit Tools. Over on the right is an Extensions button. Click it and then click More. This will open the Extensions System Preferences

To add Aurora HDR Pro, navigate to your applications folder and open select it. It will appear in the list. Select Photos on the left side of the Extensions dialog box. Locate AuClick the check box and the app is added to Photos and ready for use.

When you are finished, close the dialog box.

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How To Use Aurora HDR Pro In Apple Photos

Aurora HDR Pro is higlighted in the Apple Photos Extension pop down menu.
Open the Edit tools in Apple Photos and select Aurora HDR Pro in the Extensions pop down.

The path to the Apple Photos extension is pretty straight forward. Select the photo to be edited. Select Image> Show Edit tools and the editing window opens. Click on the Extensions button to open the Extensions pop down and select Aurora HDR Pro. This will open Aurora HDR Pro inside Apple Photos.

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Applying And Editing An Aurora HDR Pro Preset Effect In Apple Photos

The Compare option is chosen and the orginal and edited versions of the photo are shown.
The suite of editing tools in Aurora HDR Pro is very extensive.

Once you have launched the HDR Pro extension , click the Presets button to see the categories. If you want to see them all click the All Presets button. You can swipe between all of the effects and, if one catches your eye, click it to apply it. In the case of the above photo, I selected Magical Sunset simply because this photo was taken in the early evening.

If you like the effect, click the Done button and it is applied. More often than not, though, you may want to keep the effect but tone it down.

In this case, I moved the slider in the thumbnail to tone down the effect.

I also felt the image could use a little more work. To do this I closed the presets by clicking the Preset button. This will remove the thumbnails from the bottom of the photo and expand the tools panel.

I then made the following changes:

  • Smart Tone: 50 to darken the image a bit more.
  • Highlights: Reduced to 12.
  • Clairity: Increased to 66 to bring up a bit more detail.
  • Vignette Amount: Increased to 78 to pull the eye to the center of the photo.

There is a lot of power under the hood here and I am just scratching the surface of what you can do with the tools. If you are new to using them, don’t overdo it. The art of retouching is the art of subtlety.

As you apply these changes, you also might want to do a Before/After comparison by clicking the Compare button beside the eyeball at the top of the interface. If you do, you can move the orange splitter bar across the image.

When finished click the Save Image button to apply the changes to the image and, at this point you have two choices. You can Revert the image to its original state or replace it in you Photos collection by clicking Done.