Diving in to Aurora HDR 2017

Pismo Beach Pier Panorama | Processed with Aurora HDR 2017
Pismo Beach Pier Panorama HDR
Pismo Beach Pier Panorama | Processed with Aurora HDR 2017

Pismo Beach Pier Panorama HDR | Processed in Aurora HDR 2017

Have you tried the new Aurora HDR 2017 yet?

I’ve been using it for almost a month now (I was one of the lucky folks to get my hands on the beta version) and it is a huge upgrade from the original. Click here for a free trial of Aurora HDR 2017.

Scroll down to see what I love about Aurora HDR 2017 and how it has changed my HDR workflow.

Marina and Boats | Portsmouth, VA | Processed with Aurora HDR 2017

Portsmouth Marina | Processed in Aurora HDR 2017

What I love about Aurora HDR 2017

  • It is SO MUCH faster than the original!
  • Zone System for Luminosity Masks
  • Polarizing Filter
  • More options in the Top & Bottom Adjustment panel

What I’m Still Waiting For

  • Edge Aware Masking (Pretty please, Macphun??)

Historic Homes in Ghent | Norfolk, VA | Processed in Aurora HDR 2017

How Aurora HDR 2017 changed my HDR Workflow

The biggest change is that I’m processing RAW files instead of TIFFs

In Aurora HDR Pro I had a workflow that started with adjustments in Lightroom which were then embedded into a .TIFF file and imported into Aurora. More about that here.

With Aurora HDR 2017 I’m getting far better results by exporting the RAW images to Aurora first and then making my final adjustments in Lightroom (or Photoshop, when necessary).

Why RAW instead of TIFF?

While each method has its pros and cons – at the end of the day it all boils down to image quality, and I find with Aurora HDR 2017 the best image quality comes from working with RAW files.

This handheld, 3-exposure series was captured a few weeks ago during my 500px Global Photo Walk. As you can see, all of my auto-bracketed shots are somewhat overexposed – even my darkest frame is still pretty bright. There is only the slightest hint of blue in the sky.

Lightship Portsmouth | 3 Frames Bracketed for HDR

I processed these photos twice – once with my original method of exporting .TIFFs and again with the RAW files. The difference is astounding!

Compare Export TIFF or RAW from Lightroom to Aurora HDR

Other than the import method, the processing was exactly the same. Opening the RAW files in Aurora HDR 2017 made a HUGE difference!

The .TIFF version is very flat and lacks detail and color in the sky. The RAW version is (in my opinion) quite a bit more pleasing to look at. It is worth noting that either version could have been further worked in Aurora HDR 2017 (or other software after HDR processing) to get a better result. However, I don’t think anyone can do much with the icky-grey sky in the .TIFF version (short of replacing it in Photoshop)

If the example above didn’t convince you, there are also options available in Aurora HDR 2017 that are only accessible if you import RAW files.

RAW vs TIFF Import Screen Shot Aurora HDR 2017

When you import a RAW file you get the added option of applying Color Denoise. Again, it all comes down to image quality, and with RAW you have the option of an extra setting to improve your low-light and shadow areas. It is worth noting that I’ve tried processing photos in Aurora with and without Color Denoise on and I have not noticed any loss in detail in the shadows.

Aurora HDR 2017 for Single Exposures

You might be surprised to find out that Aurora HDR 2017 isn’t just for HDR (i.e. merging multiple exposures). It also works brilliantly on single exposures. The photo below was an under-exposed long exposure of the Pismo Beach pier. I processed it with Aurora HDR 2017 and LOVE the way it turned out!

Pismo Beach Pier at Sunrise | Long Exposure | Processed in Aurora HDR 2017

I already own Aurora HDR Pro, should I upgrade?

YES! Version 2017 is a big upgrade. It runs so much faster and has feature additions that I can’t live without now that I have them like the Zone System Luminosity Mask, Polarizing Filter, and additions to the Top & Bottom Adjustments.

Can I try Aurora HDR 2017 before I buy it?

YES! Click here for a free trial.

What does it cost?

Aurora HDR 2017 retails for $99, with upgrade pricing starting at $59 depending on which version you have. However, you can save 10% on your purchase by entering coupon code “angandrieux” at checkout!


Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This post also contains affiliate links which means that I may receive a commission if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase. I only share products that I believe will be valuable to my readers. All opinions are my own.


Disclosure: One of the ways I support this website is by partnering with awesome companies, whose products I use and love. These partnerships allow me to earn a small commission when you make a purchase through one of my affiliate links, but there is no additional cost for you. Thank you for your support!


  1. […] process was quite simple. First I exported the RAW files from Lightroom to Aurora HDR 2017 (learn why I export the RAW files and not TIFFs here). In Aurora I enabled alignment, chromatic aberration removal, and color denoise. I also enabled […]

  2. […] Diving in to Aurora HDR 2017 […]

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