One is that Lightroom has organisational tools that Aurora HDR 2019 doesn’t have, so if you have a large image library it’s a lot easier to find the files you need.
Another is that you can ‘pre-process’ RAW files in Lightroom before sending them to Aurora HDR – though this only works when you are editing a single image.
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There are, in fact, two ways to use Aurora HDR 2019 from Lightroom Classic, depending on whether you are working from a single RAW file or merging a set of bracketed exposures. Let’s start with the simplest setup first – editing a single file.
How to edit a single file in Aurora HDR from Lightroom
The conventional wisdom is that you should merge a series of bracketed exposures to get the best HDR results, but very often a single RAW file will have all the dynamic range you need, and it’s a lot quicker to process.
01: Pre-processing in Lightroom
So the pre-processing I’ve done on this image is to apply a lens correction profile, straighten the verticals and then use the Auto button in the Basic panel to bright the highlights and shadows within range. Now I just need to right-click on the image and choose Edit In > Aurora HDR 2019.
02 Choose your file settings
As usual with the Edit In command, Lightroom will prompt you to choose the file settings. The default in my setup is a 16-bit TIFF file in the Adobe RGB color space. This will be a big file, but sending Aurora HDR a 16-bit TIFF will give it the best data to work with.
03 The Aurora HDR merge window
Aurora HDR 2019 shows you this merge window as it starts up, even if you’re working with a single image. There’s nothing you need to do here so just click Create HDR.
04 Make your adjustments in Aurora HDR
The image opens in Aurora HDR and you can choose a preset, apply some manual adjustments and do whatever else you need to. When you’ve finished, click the Apply button, top right. This will process the image and send it back to Lightroom.
05 Back in Lightroom
Back in Lightroom Classic, the processed HDR image has been saved alongside the original RAW file, and that’s all there is to it. But what if you want to merge a series of shots instead of working with just one image? The process for this is different (below).
How to send a bracketed set of exposures from Lightroom to Aurora HDR for merging
If you want Aurora HDR to merge a series of exposures, you can still do this from within Lightroom Classic, but the process is different.
06 Select your images in Lightroom
Here I’ve got a series of three shots taken at exposure settings 2EV apart. I want to merge these in Aurora HDR, and this time I can’t right-click and use the Edit In menu.
07 Using Lightroom Plug-in Extras
This time, you need to select the images you want to merge, then use the File > Plug-in Extras > Transfer to Aurora HDR 2019 command. Lightroom now sends the original files to Aurora HDR for merging – you are not asked to choose a file type.
08 Aurora HDR Merge window
As before, you now see the Aurora HDR merge window, but this time you see the whole exposure series and you need to pay attention to the merge settings. These exposures were taken handheld, so I’m not only checking the Auto Alignment box, but using the Ghost Reduction option too.
09 Aurora HDR adjustments
The series of images is merged and opened in Aurora HDR for editing. Now that the merge is complete, the process is the same as before. You can make whatever editing changes you want and click the Apply button.
10 Back in Lightroom
Aurora HDR 2019 processes the image and saves it back to Lightroom alongside the bracketed exposures use to create it. The method for launching Aurora HDR at the start is different, but the outcome is the same.
- You edit single files in Aurora HDR from Lightroom with a right-click and the Edit In command
- To merge bracketed exposure, use File > Plug-in Extras instead
- You can pre-process single images for Aurora HDR, but original unedited images are transferred for bracketed sets