As photographers, we’re usually so busy working to get that “one” winning shot and move on to our next project, that we often miss out on a lot of incredible images we managed to capture. This is why at least once a year, it's good to take a week to dive back into old images to see if there’s anything incredible that you never even noticed when you shot them.
It could be a great vacation photo, a breath-taking sunset, or even an out-take from a portrait session that just screams “look at me!”. Either way, it happens to the best of us, and just by taking some time to review your old image catalogues you could find fantastic images to play with.
One of the great things about Aurora HDR Pro is that it’s not just for HDR. As you may have recently read inJoel Chen’s recent post about Automotive photography, you can use Aurora for a plethora of things besides just merging HDR brackets. It can add a specific flare and style.
With just a few quick clicks, you can take an otherwise normal image and make it incredible. We're going to take Aurora HDR and revisit some images from the archives to make them great. As you can see here, we’ve grabbed a few images from David Crewe's 2014 Catalogue ranging from Vacation Landscapes, Cityscapes, and Portraits. It’s important to reemphasize that none of these come from HDR brackets.
Starting with an image on an old point-and-shoot camera of New York City, you can see even though it’s not an HDR. We can use Aurora and it’s powerful layer tools to bring back a ton of detail otherwise lost in the image.
With a few quick clicks to add a few new layers (for control) we’ve managed to bring back all the details from the shadows, enhance the skies while keeping the luminosity values and histogram in check. Lastly, we’ve added a layer to remove the noise added to the sky from pushing the HDR details and we’re left with an incredible image it's time to share for the first time!
Given there are not one, but two Batman movies coming out soon, and also being inspired by David Lackey’s recent cosplay photography article, we decided to pull out one of old images of Rin’s Harley Quinn cosplay. We weren't quite sure how this was going to play out honestly, but in less than 5 minutes we were insanely excited, and here’s why.
With just 6 layers, I was able to take a slightly overexposed portrait that previously I wasn’t sure what to do with, and turn it into a dark, dramatic, illustrated work of art! Starting with a Dramatic Preset (added into a luminosity mask to control its application), I then added a layer to boost my reds and yellows and applied a vignette.
Next, we took the Tone curve to adjust the lights and shadows to pull the blacks down a little more and add some additional drama. Lastly, I added a new layer and used one of the awesome Macphun texture files on Overlay blend mode, then lowered the opacity to turn the image from a photograph, into an illustration.
Lastly, we’ll take an image I shot of the Scripps Pier in San Diego at sunset. A single exposure that was a tad underexposed at the time…. originally it was flat. But something about the composition caught our eyes while digging through the archives.
We again began working on a new layer to preserve the original file and added a luminosity mask with an intense Landscape preset to bring up all the details on the waves. Then, we used the Top & Bottom Lighting control to raise the brightness of just the waves as they were dark.
We added a new layer for denoising the sky, as that is typically where you’ll end up noticing any noise generated from the HDR and Structure enhancements in an image. Finishing up, we added a color adjustment layer to enhance the reds and blues.
The bottom line here is there’s no limit to what you can do with Aurora HDR, and it’s up to you to choose your creative paths. Just remember that you don’t need to actually merge HDR brackets to create an incredible image. Aurora HDR can quickly and easily take your single exposure images — even those in distant archives — from boring to breathtaking!