Macphun Announces Aurora HDR 2018 for Pre-Order Right Now for Release September 28, on Mac and Windows

Macphun has announced it is now accepting pre-orders for the latest version of its high dynamic range image editing software Aurora HDR. Aurora HDR 2018 is scheduled for release on September 28 and will be launched with a big, impressive set of new features, improved current features, new and improved tools and filters, and a more sophisticated user interface as well as a 200% speed boost. 

Aurora HDR 2017 will be available for Mac and Windows, and both versions can be pre-ordered right now at a 60% discount along with bonuses.

As with Macphun’s other products, Aurora HDR 2018 can be used in its standalone version or as a plug-in or external editor for a range of popular image editing applications, supports raw files as well other common file formats and exports to PSD (Mac-only), TIFF, PNG, GIF, JPEG and JPEG 2000 as well as to other Macphun products.

Aurora HDR 2018 User Interface, Tools and Features

Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2018 high dynamic range image processing software is the most sophisticated and feature-rich of its kind, and has persuaded me to create a growing proportion of my stills photography work in HDR. Each version of Aurora keeps getting better.
The HDR brackets import dialog offers Ghost Reduction and Chromatic Aberration removal options, both of which I choose especially when shooting HDR brackets handheld or of scenes containing moving objects. Aurora HDR does a great job of ghosts removal, giving me the confidence to shoot almost anything anywhere as HDR even when I am not carrying a tripod.
I first started seriously looking into HDR imaging when working on a short video project involving applying the Ken Burns effect on a long series of stills images shot in hard sunlight in the tropics. I was disappointed by the inability of non-HDR photographs to retain a long dynamic range, leading to near-black shadows without enough detail to justify a camera move into those areas. The HDR software of the time was not sophisticated enough for what I visualized. Then, Macphun released the first version of Aurora HDR.
Aurora HDR 2018 comes with plenty of realistic and beyond realistic presets, and a straight, unedited HDR multi-bracket merge might be exactly what you want without any further image editing. The choice is yours.
One of the most exciting new features in Aurora HDR 2018 is its manual Lens Correction tool. When using previous versions of Aurora, I would export TIFF files to DxO ViewPoint 3 to apply automatic profile-based lens corrections. Having Lens Correction in the new version means avoiding that extra, external step to keep your files fully editable within Aurora HDR 2018 alone. I am hoping that lens-based corrections will find their way into future versions of Aurora and Luminar.
Aurora HDR 2018’s new Transform Tool allows corrections to perspective and other attributes in a way that needed to be done by exporting TIFF files to external editors like DxO ViewPoint 3. Now we can keep it all within Aurora and eliminate those extra steps.
Aurora HDR 2018’s History panel is another very welcome new feature in this version, allowing you to backtrack and refine your edits in the same way as History panels in other image editing software like Photoshop.

Before and After, Naturalistic and Enhanced

With Aurora HDR 2018’s new capacity to create an acceptably naturalistic HDR merge before you apply presets or controls, you cam choose a wide range of looks for each image from mildly realist through to wildly surrealistic, as illustrated by the following images from Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2018 press pack.

If Aurora HDR 2018’s over one hundred tools and editing features are not enough, you can export your images directly into Luminar as a plug-in for even more editing tools, presets and more extreme looks again.

Lone Yucca, White Sands, by Alik Griffin

Moraine Lake, by Jim Nix

Dubai, by Dima Sytnik

Using Aurora HDR

Based on the lovely landscape and travel photographs most software developers use to promote the products’ capabilities, I am not their typical user.

My photography practice centres on documentary genres in monochrome and naturalistic colour, on portraiture, on scene-setting cityscapes and street photography to keep my visual reflexes in order in between documentary projects.

I have yet to produce a sunrise or sunset landscape like the many fine examples Macphun uses to show off its excellent Aurora HDR and Luminar raw processing and image editing software.

But I do use both Macphun products for all the genres and subjects un which I work, as well as the company’s Creative Kit, and I am increasingly shooting portraits and product shots as multiple bracket HDR images.

Although I have some excellent LED lights for stills and video in the form of a Rotolight Neo 3 Light Kit, I often need to quickly grab fast but good quality portraits or product shots with camera and lens only, handheld.

Since its inception Aurora has been adept at handling handheld HDR brackets, automatically erasing the effect of movement between frames aka “ghosting”.

Each successive revision of Aurora has made it easier to avoid HDR’s more blatantly surreal effects, adding controls and presets permitting more subtlety, increased realism.

Aurora HDR 2017 was key in that regard, persuading me to shoot almost all my product shots as HDR images, all the better to deep dive into the textures, materials and construction of the objects depicted.

Early forays into handheld HDR portraiture bore encouraging fruit and the arrival of Aurora HDR 2018 with even more improvements in more real than real image processing now have me planning an environmental and head-and-shoulders portrait project.

The photographs in this project will initially be handheld and consist of three to five brackets, but I am itching to try seven and even nine brackets under challenging lighting conditions to learn whether that will reveal even more information and a visual richness not achievable by any other means.

Having tried out 3 Legged Thing’s Equinox Leo micro-traveller tripod some time ago, the same company’s taller Albert travel tripod is looking appealing so that I can stand face-to-face with my subjects or a little higher art lower as demanded by an environmental portraiture approach.

I will be working on new HDR photographs in several of my favourite genres – portraiture, still life, urban documentary – over the coming weeks and look forward to sharing the results in other articles on Aurora HDR 2018 as well as using them to illustrate articles on production hardware.

First images processed in Aurora HDR 2018

These first stumbling steps into Aurora HDR 2018 reveal new possibilities and some major improvements over its predecessors that I will continue to explore over the coming weeks and months.

I have been wanting to explore new directions in photography for some time, other ways of making images more related to what I experienced of painting and the other fine arts way back in art school compared to the film-simulations-influenced way I usually default to when processing digital photographs.

One thing I am really happy about is how Aurora HDR 2018 is not subject to halos in the skies like previous versions. In the photograph of the garage, Aurora HDR 2017 would always render distinct halos around the power lines and now there are no halos at all!

Another thing I really like about Aurora HDR 2018 is how good the initial tone mapping looks, how naturalistic it is. It is a great starting point from which to explore realism or surrealism with further manipulations within Aurora based on what works best to support the ideas and emotions I want to express.

Links

Macphun: New Aurora HDR 2018. Coming soon. (For macOS and Windows)

https://aurorahdr.com/2018#

“The strikingly beautiful, amazingly powerful, and finally cross-platform HDR photo editor that helps you make HDR photos you’ll really love. Watch video…

… Cross-platform

Enjoy an amazing HDR experience, no matter what kind of computer you use….”

Macphun: Celebrate! Macphun Photo Software is Coming to Windows PC

https://macphun.com/pc

Macphun Luminar Raw Processor/Image Editor Updated, More Speed and Power, Hot Deals

The Luminar all-in-one raw processing and image editing application by Macphun, makers of a suite of other great products including Aurora HDR 2017, is my default, go-to software for photography and image resizing and exporting duties. Luminar has just been updated to version 1.1.1 and it continues to get better every single time. 

macphun_luminar_version1-1-1_updater_screen

Luminar’s version 1.1.1 update arrived shortly after an X100F review loaner was kindly delivered by the folks at Fujifilm Australia and after processing my very first shot with the X100F, camera plus processing software feels like a match made in heaven.

Both outwardly appear stripped-down, simple even, but their unassuming interfaces hide real power. I am impressed by how well Luminar 1.1.1 handles X-Trans raw files from the X100F.

Most software companies take ages to get around to supporting the very latest cameras. Macphun is already on the ball with the X100F and I hope will be just as fast to support two other soon-to-be-released new cameras, Fujifilm’s GFX 50S and Panasonic’s GH5.

I made the above three snapshots with the Fujifilm X100F at lunch earlier today then quickly and minimally processed them in Luminar 1.1.1 using the Smart Image Enhancer preset from the Photo Essentials preset pack available for purchase from Macphun. The photograph at left was cropped while the other two were full-frame.*

I was after a naturalistic though richly coloured, dark-toned image reminiscent of slow transparency films from the analog era. The light is always challenging in this location, its centre lit with dark amber and with bright sunlight at both ends. Digital noise is not a concern with these types of images especially now that contemporary mirrorless cameramakers are doing such a great job making it appear organic.

This quick and dirty test showed that Luminar 1.1.1 has gained speed in loading raw files and when processing using filters. I have a heavy image processing session coming up later this week and that is when this latest Luminar update will really be put to the test.

Meanwhile, colour me impressed. The Macphun team published a list of coming updates to Luminar and this latest update has me looking forward to what is coming next. Right now Luminar is Mac-only but will be coming to Windows sometime this year.

Macphun Luminar Special Offer:

Macphun has a terrific hot deal going on at the moment for Luminar, so get in now!

Footnote:

* I have been noticing the term “full-frame” being applied to the 35mm digital photography format as if that sensor were some kind of yardstick by which to judge other sensor sizes. These other sensor sizes such as APS-C and Micro Four Thirds are being described as “crop sensors”. Really?

The photographs above have been made with an APS-C sensor camera. That camera has a full-frame sensor, one utilizing the full frame of the APS-C sensor. In one photograph above, the image is not full-frame but has been cropped. The sensor has not been cropped, only its output in this case. The other two images can be described as full-frame though.

The “full-frame” and “full-format” aficionados need to get over this misuse of terms that make the 35mm film format appear to be some sort of unassailable standard. It isn’t. It never was.

Throughout much of the history of analog photography, the 35mm format was regarded as “miniature”, and was often adversely compared to larger formats like 6×4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm, 6x8cm, 6x9cm and larger on 120 film, or sheet film in the 4″x5″ size, 5″x7″, 8″x10″ and larger sizes. The digital 35mm format is no more the standard or benchmark than 35mm film was.

Zack Arias has a terrific article and video on the subject at DEDPXL, Crop or Crap :: Math or Moment.

Ming Cai Shows How to Make Six Auto Bracket Exposures with Fujifilm X-T2 and X-Pro2 Cameras

One really big thing I have been hoping that Fujifilm will fix in firmware for its Fujifilm X-T2 and X-Pro2 APS-C cameras very soon is their automatic exposure bracketing functionality. Right now both cameras only allow 3 brackets to make landscape, cityscape or interiors High Dynamic Range (HDR) photographs at times when 5 or more brackets are more beneficial. 

Three-bracket handheld HDR processed in Macphun Aurora HDR 2017, exported to DxO ViewPoint 3 for optical correction then exported to Luminar for finishing. I am looking forward to Aurora and Luminar gaining optical and perspective correction functions. Under bright sunlight like this, 3 brackets are enough, but I would definitely want to use 5 brackets or more if shooting the same scene during sunrise or sunset.

Since Macphun released Aurora HDR 2017, currently the most full-featured HDR image merging and editing software available, I have been looking for ever more opportunities to shoot HDR when it will bring something extra to the image that cannot be obtained in just one exposure.

Three-exposure bracket handheld, when three is just enough.

I have been using 3 exposure brackets when handholding the camera to shoot portraits, 3 for landscape photographs handheld and 3 or 5 for close-up still life photographs on a tripod-mounted camera when I need a heightened sense of realism.

As neither the X-Pro2 or X-T2 currently permit 5 or more exposure brackets, I have been relying on my Panasonic GH4 and GX8 cameras for that. Both can make up to 7 exposure brackets. I want the very same ability on my Fujifilm cameras to bring them up to par for HDR.

Meanwhile photographer Ming Cai is sharing a 6-bracket HDR workaround for his Fujifilm X-T2 at his YouTube channel:

Tech Notes:

Riverside and portrait photographs made with Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens for the landscape and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens for the portrait which was lit with a Rotolight Neo LED light with barndoors and soft handle, and was held by the subject.

Cam Tech: First Look, Macphun Luminar

Luminar by Macphun is an exciting development in what has amounted to a banner year for photography image editing software. I take a first look at Luminar and list some of the most essential features I’d like to see appear in a future version of Luminar. 

At the time of writing, Luminar was already in version 1.0.2, with more updates on the way soon. This current version seems to have solved some rather odd problems seen when processing X-Trans raw files from Fujifilm cameras like the X-Pro2 and X-T2 in the beta and launch version. Phew!

Affinity Photo Update 1.5.1 Adds Camera and Lens Profiles, Focus Merge, HDR Merge, Batch Processing and More

This year, 2016, has been stellar for new raw processing and image editing software and updates to well-established products like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, and up-and-comers such as Macphun Aurora HDR 2017 and Luminar, Serif Affinity Photo, DxO OpticsPro 11, Capture One Pro 10PixelmatorAlien Skin Exposure X2 and soon-to-appear On1 Photo Raw by On1, Inc. And let’s not forget Photolemur, currently in beta. 

Affinity Photo raw developing with lens corrections applied.
Affinity Photo raw developing with lens corrections applied. Photograph made with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera and Olympus M. 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R lens.
Affinity Photo 1.5.1 has an excellent HDR merge function and a set of presets including this one, Detailed. Three-bracket HDR image merged from raw files shot on Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R lens.
Having been developed from scratch without years’ worth of legacy code and concepts to build upon, Affinity Photo is fast, contemporary and contains features not usually seen in more traditional image editors. For example, a video-editing vectorscope view. Photograph made with Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens.

Serif has just released its version 1.5.1 update for Affinity Photo and the subset of additions and improvements in its full feature list is a doozy, and too long to cover in depth here.

Affinity Photo’s photographically-oriented additions and improvements include camera and lens profiles for raw processing, HDR merging and 32-bit photo processing, panorama image stitching, focus merging for deep-focus still-life close-up photography, 360-degree editing for immersive interactive images, dust and scratches filter, batch processing, live perspective projection and more.

As Affinity Photo is made for graphic designers as well as photographers, it contains a host of design-oriented features too including close integration with Affinity Designer, Serif’s vector graphics application and the coming Affinity Publisher, its offline and online publishing software.

Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are made for the Mac and Windows.

Postscript

I have noticed some queries on online photography fora about Affinity Photo’s support for lens and sensor profiles. The folks at Affinity kindly sent me these links:

I am pleased to note that the list of Serif Labs-supported cameras includes the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 flagships as well as a vast array of other digital stills and video cameras. The Lensfun list of supported lenses includes seven Fujinon XF zoom and prime lenses, a good start that I hope will grow to encompass all of Fujifilm’s interchangeable lenses.