Coffee Shop: Before and After

I love before/after shots, don’t you? It’s fun. (I love makeover shows, too, though often I prefer the before look.)

I recently acquired a new program called Aurora HDR, 2018 (A18). Previous releases were made for Macs, but this one also offers a version for PCs. I decided to give it a try.

For those of you who don’t know: HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, meaning you can get pictures with more depth if you take a series of photos at different exposures and combine them. A18 excels at the combining. PS CS6 can also “merge to HDR” and does a pretty good job of it, but tests I did in both programs shows A18 is better.

First thing I discovered is that I pretty much hate all the presets. I stopped using them the first day. None of them delivered the look I wanted. Fortunately, A18 offers lots of sliders, so you can play to your heart’s content.

Second thing I discovered is Photoshop isn’t going away anytime soon. If I assemble an HDR in A18, then move it to PS, I can do my final tweaking there, plus use my Topaz filters. Between the three programs, I get exactly what I want. 

A few weeks ago, I took a picture of a coffee shop on a side street in LaBelle, a small town not far from where I live. I was using the Canon then, and I didn’t think to set it up for an HDR. To test just how good A18 is on single photos (not even RAW but a JPG), I opened this photo. 

Kind of dark, right? The awning kept the sun from the front of the shop while bouncing off that metal awning.

I played with it in A18, which has this really cool before/after slider, so you can check out the changes you make. 

Then I exported it to PS and did a few more tweaks. Still not a great shot, but much improved over what I started with. 

I was pleasantly surprised at how much detail A18 brought back in only a few minutes.

I’ve been purposefully taking more “brackets” for HDRs of late, especially of landscapes. These trees were a test, to see how well it handled extremes of light and dark. It did really well, plus the colors are good.  This was taken with the Sony. 

My current workflow is to assemble the HDR in A18, move a few sliders, then export to PS, so I can do final tweaks and use Topaz. I’m getting some very nice output.

I love the blue-greens in this one, offset by the yellow-green in the foreground. This one is also Sony. 

I took this HDR series in Wisconsin, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get anything I liked. Until yesterday. A18, in combination with PS and Topaz, finally produced something I liked. Taken with an earlier Canon. 

That’s it for now. See you next time!


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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6 Responses to Coffee Shop: Before and After

  1. Janet Ellinger says:

    Wow – the difference in the coffee shop photo is HUGE! I saw the first one and wondered why you’d even want to take a picture of it – looked kind of boring. But now I see the all the charm!

  2. Allison says:

    I love the blue green against the yellow, fantastic contrast. But then I’m always drawn to blues.

  3. Helena Stone says:

    The things you can do with photos will never cease to amaze me. Colour me impressed and fascinated.

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