HDR (High Dynamic Range) technique is used to attain a greater range of light in your pictures and images. Photographic equipment has limited light capturing capability compared to the human eye, often resulting in improper distribution of light in the image. The iris in the human eye constantly adapts to the change in light while the brain interprets it for the viewer. HDR works by bring that range to your photographs.
While there are many dedicated HDR programs available, many photographers want to stay with Lightroom as their go-to editor even for HDR needs. However, while Lightroom is great at general RAW editing and cataloguing, its HDR prowess leaves much to be desired. Luckily, there are some great HDR plugins that can be used to add to the usability of Lightroom.
Still a little new to the scene, Aurora HDR is no joke when it comes to serious HDR editing. The software has already made its way to the top of the list when it comes to dedicated HDR engines. Its ease of use coupled with extensive features and tools makes it a no brainer when you’re looking for a new HDR editor to get started with. It also comes as a plugin that you can use with Lightroom if that is what you want.
Once the plugin is installed, you can view all the Aurora HDR presets and tools in your Lightroom workspace. This Lightroom HDR plugin makes it easier and faster for you to process multiple images simultaneously. The Aurora plugin does not interfere with the native features of Lightroom, but enhances them. With dozens of intuitive HDR presets and an array of tools at your disposal, the Aurora’s Lightroom HDR plugin is more than enough to tackle any challenge. The overall software is easy to use and a great way to add life and color to your photographs.
If, for some reason, you do not like Aurora HDR then Photomatix Pro is the next best thing to use alongside Lightroom for your HDR needs. We say ‘alongside’ because the Photomatix plugin for Lightroom does not let you make HDRs within Lightroom but rather helps in exporting a Lightroom file to Photomatix Pro for HDR editing. This means that you can open your exposures first in Lightroom and edit them as you like, and then export them to Photomatix for combining into an HDR.
Photomatix Pro is known for its multiple tone mapping methods including Contrast Optimizer, Detail Enhancer, Tone Compressor, and Exposure Fusion. You can get different looks for your HDR photo with each of these, so it’s always best to experiment with these before settling on one for any image.
HDR photography is very helpful when it comes to making photos that are well exposed, with punchy colors and great contrast. The software you choose for actually merging the photos together dictates to a great degree how your final photo will turn out to be, so always go for the trial or free version of each photo editing software before choosing one. The two HDR plugins for Lightroom mentioned in this article are both great in their own regards, but if you want an all-around HDR plugin then you really can’t do better than Aurora HDR.