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Aurora HDR 2019 Review

I've been using Aurora 2019 for about two weeks now and have to say it is hands down the best HDR photo editor that I have tried. I don't consider myself a "professional" photographer, but I have tried my fair share of HDR solutions. Until Aurora 2019 there was always something I didn't like about them. I've used Photomatix, Lightroom, Photoshop, Nik Software, and both prior versions of Aurora.

My major complaint about HDR photos and the software used to create them is halos. For those of you that don't know what a halo is, it's when you get a glow or halo-like effect around certain objects. As a landscape photographer, this is usually where the horizon meets the sky. I'll admit, at times I liked this artificial glow around some dramatic mountains, but for the most part I would have to spend hours layering my photos to avoid halos coming through in my finished product and sometimes I just left them. In fact, if you look around on my website, you'll see plenty of photos with haloing. One reason is that I was new to editing and didn't know how to remove them but also as a hobbyist, I don't always have hours to spend cleaning them up. I have a day job and also like to spend more time hiking and enjoying the outdoors than editing photos. The main reason I edit photos is to capture the feeling and beauty of these places and so any time I can save time editing to spend more time outside, it's a win.

That's why I've fallen in love with Aurora HDR 2019. Aurora HDR 2019 uses Skylum's new Quantum HDR Engine. This HDR algorithm is paired with artificial intelligence to create an HDR photo that almost eliminates halos. I say almost because you can still force them in the image if you want to, but you have to try to create one versus trying to avoid one. This one feature has saved me so much time when compared to prior versions of Aurora.

Some other great features of Aurora HDR 2019 are:

-LUTs support with 11 New Integrated LUTs. LUT's allow you to create a movie or film-like appearance to your finished product. I don't use them often, but for some people, these are an essential part of their final "look."

-Photoshop and Lightroom plugins support

-Presets that are now called "Aurora HDR Looks." These are great for getting an artistic idea of what you can do with your photos or for creating a final image with only 1-2 clicks.

-An improved Adjustable Gradient filter with new sliders for shadows and highlights added. The Adjustable Gradient filter allows you to apply different looks to the top or bottom of an image, or anywhere you apply the gradient. I use this often to cool off the sky and warm up the ground, but the sky is the limit with how you use this filter.

-No difference between the Windows and Mac versions of the software. Aurora 2018 was available on Mac and PC, but there were some differences. Not anymore!!!

So far I've shared all the reasons why I'm having a love affair with Aurora 2019. Poor Aurora 2018 hasn't gotten any love from me since Aurora 2019 came out, but let me share a few things that I wish they included in Aurora 2019. Please note these are minor but since the software developers at Skylum seem to be fixing most of my complaints, why not ask for more?

First, I wish that they would add auto lens corrections as they have in Luminar. You can make lens corrections but not as easy as in Luminar (another Skylum photo editor). Second, I wish that I could remove tools that I don't use from my workspace. This is also another feature that exists in Luminar, and I love being able to pick and choose what tools I use to edit various types of photos. Plus, I like not having to scroll through tools I never use.

After two weeks of use, the pros of Aurora 2019 far outweigh the things I would change. As I continue using the software, I'll update this review accordingly. Also, stay tuned for new tutorials showing you how to use Aurora 2019. If you are interested in purchasing Aurora HDR 2019, please click the Aurora HDR 2019 banner.

Last but not least, here are a few of the first images I edited with Aurora HDR 2019.

*** In full disclosure, I receive compensation in exchange for advertising for some of my favorite gear.  However, I only comment and advertise for products that I have used extensively, believe in, and continue to use.  The opinions expressed here about my favorite gear are my own and have been determined through my own personal experiences with the product.