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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos HDR Creation 
Thread started 11 Jul 2018 (Wednesday) 08:05
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Aurora HDR 2018 revisited

 
Stiga
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Jul 11, 2018 08:05 |  #1

My last post about Aurora HDR was at the end of September 2017. Recently, my long-time friend Mistermpnday PMed saying that it was worth a second look and suggested that I should read a recent comparison review of 2018 hdr apps. This whetted my appetite, so I downloaded the latest Aurora trial (v. 1.2.0.2114) and the User Manual - very clear and easy to comprehend.

I am not going to describe the Aurora UI as you can read one of the many excellent online reviews to learn more. What I will say, however, is that though there are more tools in Auroera than any other HDR app that I have used, they were very well laid out and easy to read - much easier than SNS-HDR which is my main HDR engine of choice. I found everything to be very intuitive. My only serious complaint is that the slider bar below the preset thumbnails is very narrow and tricky to lock onto. By comparison, the Photomatix 6 interface looks veryt out of date and, unless you are used to it, less intuitive to use.

My cameras have small noise-prone sensors, so my normal workflow is to pre-process with DxO Optics Pro 11 and save as DNG files before any tonemapping. As Aurora now has built-in lens correction and noise reduction, all the images posted in this thread have been derived from the original RAWs unless stated otherwise.

This screen-grab illustrates how I primed Aurora before processing:


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Aurora is designed to create a very wide range of image styles and is ideal for the creative post processing enthusiast but, in this thread my sole aim is to see how well it suited to crating a "natural look". For comparison images, SNS-HDR was used as standard (there are no settings for alignment, de-ghosting etc). Photomatix 6 was set for max image alignment, auto de-noise and auto de-ghost = 10%. The Tone Balance method was used. I believe that all HDR software writers know what they are up to when they create presets so, unless stated otherwise, I have used the most appropriate preset - usually "Default" with SNS and "Realistic" With Photomatix. With Aurora, I soon found out that the "Basic - Realistic" preset gave me the most natural results.

Martin
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Stiga
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Post edited 2 months ago by Stiga.
     
Jul 11, 2018 08:14 |  #2

A street in Falkland, Scotland

Aurora (Architecture - Realistic)


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SNS-HDR (Default)


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Photomatix
IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/okTIOAz.jpg

All images are acceptable to me but I see that the SNS image is noisy and the Photomatix shot has least noise. The Aurora image has been clipped more than the other two.

More examples to follow.

Martin
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Jul 12, 2018 00:43 |  #3

Hi, Have all three (purchased) along with Machinary HDR and I still end up going to SNS-HDR so easy to get a natural looking image from it albeit a little flat looking but back into lightroom, add a little boost from De-Haze (free plugin) and some contrast cannot IMO be beaten.
Martin, For noise have a look at Topaz Labs AI Clear https://topazlabs.com/​ai-clear/ (external link)
Russ.


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Stiga
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Jul 12, 2018 03:38 as a reply to  @ russellsnr2's post |  #4

Thanks, Russ.

Yes, I have Topaz Denoise - and nik Dfine 2 - and Imagenomic Noiseware (all are good).

But you miss the point of my tests in this thread, I am trying to find out how good/bad these softwares ar without pre or post-processing. The only tweaks IU have allowed myself are the adjustment of blak/white poits and a resize.


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Stiga
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Jul 12, 2018 06:24 |  #5

There are more presets in Aurora HDR than you can throw a stick at and many hundreds more that you can download free. This reminds me of the early days of Photomatix when users created their own and uploaded them to websites. Many were weird and many more were were nauseous. No douibt there are some horrible Aurora presets but I have not found any so far, most of the are subtly different . Most of my bracketed sets are of landscapes, so let's look atr some of the subtle differences I have found.

1. Firstly the Basic Realistic preset as a yardstick


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2. Landscape Default


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3. Landscape Enhanced
IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/O0wjYWW.jpg

4. Wonderful landscape.
IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/EczdRba.jpg

5 Terry Radcliff's Idea Objectivity.
IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/2mmW5eK.jpg

6. Captain Kino's Paradice!
IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/4gDFSY7.jpg

One feature I like a lot is a "Strength" slider displayed instead of a thumbnail for any selected preset
IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/n9eCF2a.jpg
So, if you like the selected preset but want to tone it down a bit, you don't need to explore the right hand Tools Paner to make your adjustment.

Martin
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Jul 12, 2018 08:08 |  #6

Stiga,

Thanks for taking the time to post. For realistic looking images, I use a different workflow. But if I want a classic HDR tonemapped look, I use a HDR app. (No, not that overcooked "clown puke" look, but the acceptable classic mild tonemapped look).

Can Aurora achieve a classic tonemapped look?


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Jul 12, 2018 08:15 |  #7

I use SNS-HDR exclusively for combining multiple exposures for several years now with several different cameras over a range of megapixels, and I have never had an image as noisy as the example in this thread.

Seems biased to me, or something in your workflow could be improved. That example does not give SNS-HDR enough credit.




  
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Post edited 2 months ago by Stiga.
     
Jul 12, 2018 09:31 |  #8

samueli wrote in post #18661170 (external link)
I use SNS-HDR exclusively for combining multiple exposures for several years now with several different cameras over a range of megapixels, and I have never had an image as noisy as the example in this thread.

Seems biased to me, or something in your workflow could be improved. That example does not give SNS-HDR enough credit.

That is precisely why I emphasized that my normal work flow is to pre-process with DxO Optics Pro, mainly to remove noise but also to correct lens distortion. The, after tonemapping, I apply noise reduction again. Have you ever worked with a camera with a 1/1.7" (7.44 x 5.58 mm) sensor? If not, I assure you that they are very noisy.

Do you find this image more acceptable? I used my normal worklow (pre and post noise reduction and SNS-HDR 2.


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In addition to the Aurora pre-tonemapping setup (which I have illustrated), there is also a post-tonemapping slider in the right hand panel of filters. As I am feeling my way with Aurora, I have only just found this tool - it works very well.
IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/ZFTEL8h.jpg

I fully intend to investigate the Lens Correction and Vignetting filters in a later post in this thread.

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Jul 12, 2018 09:38 |  #9

Picture North Carolina wrote in post #18661166 (external link)
Stiga,

Thanks for taking the time to post. For realistic looking images, I use a different workflow. But if I want a classic HDR tonemapped look, I use a HDR app. (No, not that overcooked "clown puke" look, but the acceptable classic mild tonemapped look).

Can Aurora achieve a classic tonemapped look?

What do you mean by the "classic look? If you mean the slight "glow" that HDR images sometime have, the answer is yes! There are many presets in Aurora that produce this affect.

If you mean something else, please post an image or a link to illustrate what you are looking for.


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Jul 12, 2018 11:08 |  #10

Stiga wrote in post #18661213 (external link)
What do you mean by the "classic look?

Some of the stuff Trey Ratcliff used to do. Acceptable as fine art but not over the top. Something that looks slightly like it was tonemapped. Not a natural image.


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Jul 12, 2018 11:16 |  #11

Stiga wrote in post #18661208 (external link)
That is precisely why I emphasized that my normal work flow is to pre-process with DxO Optics Pro, mainly to remove noise but also to correct lens distortion. The, after tonemapping, I apply noise reduction again. Have you ever worked with a camera with a 1/1.7" (7.44 x 5.58 mm) sensor? If not, I assure you that they are very noisy.

In addition to the Aurora pre-tonemapping setup (which I have illustrated), there is also a post-tonemapping slider in the right hand panel of filters. As I am feeling my way with Aurora, I have only just found this tool - it works very well.

I fully intend to investigate the Lens Correction and Vignetting filters in a later post in this thread.


My apologies, I didn't get the emphasis out of the original read of the post. The image in your reply is amazing in comparison.

I think I've grown to appreciate SNS-HDR, even though it's likely more time consuming as it is missing some of the more inclusive sliders.




  
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Jul 12, 2018 11:40 |  #12

Picture North Carolina wrote in post #18661246 (external link)
Some of the stuff Trey Ratcliff used to do. Acceptable as fine art but not over the top. Something that looks slightly like it was tonemapped. Not a natural image.

There is a collection of Trey Ratcliff's presets in Aurora, so the answer is yes!


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Jul 12, 2018 11:47 |  #13

samueli wrote in post #18661254 (external link)
My apologies, I didn't get the emphasis out of the original read of the post. The image in your reply is amazing in comparison.

I think I've grown to appreciate SNS-HDR, even though it's likely more time consuming as it is missing some of the more inclusive sliders.

No apologies needed.

I agree with you about SNS but (a) it is a pity it does not have deghosting and (b) Mac users cannot use it. However, Sebastian (Pebal) works single-handed and his progress is slow.


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Jul 12, 2018 16:42 |  #14

Stiga wrote in post #18660446 (external link)
A street in Falkland, Scotland

Aurora (Architecture - Realistic)
thumbnail
Hosted photo: posted by Stiga in
./showthread.php?p=186​60446&i=i247736710
forum: HDR Creation


SNS-HDR (Default)
thumbnail
Hosted photo: posted by Stiga in
./showthread.php?p=186​60446&i=i31652335
forum: HDR Creation


Photomatix
QUOTED IMAGE

All images are acceptable to me but I see that the SNS image is noisy and the Photomatix shot has least noise. The Aurora image has been clipped more than the other two.

More examples to follow.

Interesting that all three have different crops and slants. The algorithms must shift the whole image to get required results.


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Stiga
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Jul 13, 2018 05:00 |  #15

Pekka wrote in post #18661438 (external link)
Interesting that all three have different crops and slants. The algorithms must shift the whole image to get required results.

Yes, I noticed that too. The bracketed set was hand-held as this full size auto-align in photoshop illustrates.

IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/ccTwVBk.jpg
.

As a software buff, I am enjoying exploring this (relatively) new app. Like Photoshop, it has more in it than I will ever use. I'll try to come to a conclusion about it before my 2-week trial ends. But I can say now that it certainly knocks the so-called market leader (Photomatix) off its perch!

Martin
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