Aurora HDR 2019

Skylum (formerly Macphun) has announced Aurora HDR 2019, a big improvement over the first version of Aurora HDR, on which my book is based. Pre-orders are now open, and if you use the link below, I get a small affiliate fee. That doesn’t cost you anything more—in fact, pre-ordering before October 4 knocks the price of Aurora HDR 2019 down to $89. If you’re upgrading from a previous version, that price is less (based on which version you currently own).

I have plans to update the Aurora HDR Photoversity Guide for the 2019 version, but other projects on my plate need to have priority. In the meantime, I’m offering the current guide as a free download. A few interface things have changed in the interim, but the core concepts still apply.

How to Make Photoversity Presets Work in Aurora HDR 2017

If you're using Aurora HDR 2017 and downloaded the free Photoversity presets, you may be wondering where they disappeared to. Macphun changed the filename extension for Aurora HDR presets with the 2017 version. The presets still work just fine, but Aurora HDR 2017 can't see them.

I've updated the files for new orders, but if you already have the presets, you can make the fix yourself pretty easily.

If you've downloaded the presets for Aurora HDR 2017, do the following:

  1. In the folder of items you downloaded, locate the files that end in the extension .mip2.
  2. Rename the files from .mip2 to .map.

If Aurora HDR 2017 is open, it recognizes the presets within a few seconds. You'll find them by clicking the Custom preset category, or the All Presets option.

If you installed the presets for Aurora HDR (version 1.x), do the following:

  1. Open Aurora HDR 1.x.
  2. Choose File > Show Presets Folder. Keep that window open in the Finder.
  3. Open Aurora HDR 2017.
  4. Choose File > Show Presets Folder.
  5. In the Finder, hold the Option key and drag the .mip2 files from the Aurora HDR 1.x Presets folder to the Aurora HDR 2017 Presets folder. (Holding Option as you drag makes a copy.)
  6. In the Presets folder for Aurora HDR 2017, rename the filename extensions from .mip2 to .map.

If you have trouble, or you no longer have the original Photoversity presets, contact me at


Aurora HDR 2017 Is Coming in September

[Update: Aurora HDR 2017 is now out! See updated pricing below.]

Macphun has announced the next version of Aurora HDR, and it looks like a great update! New features of Aurora HDR 2017 include:

  • Improved tone mapping
  • New tools, including an adjustable polarize filter and a radial masking tool
  • Batch processing
  • An updated interface

Take a look at the new features and sign up for Macphun updates that come up between now and the release. Pre-orders will kick off September 15, and the update will launch September 29.

A range of pricing is available. [Updated]

  • Current users of Aurora HDR Pro can upgrade to Aurora HDR 2017 for $59
  • Current users of the standard version of Aurora HDR can upgrade to Aurora HDR 2017 for $79
  • New customers can order Aurora HDR 2017 for $79

Want to save some more? Use the coupon code PHOTOV17 to get 10% off Aurora HDR 2017, Creative Kit, and Macphun's current selection of software.

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this release and updating my book to cover it!

Get My Free Aurora HDR Ebook from Macphun

The great folks at Macphun are currently including a short ebook I wrote for them with every Aurora HDR purchase: 10 Simple Steps to Make Amazing HDR Photos…but anyone can get it for free! It covers a few fundamentals, like tips for capturing good brackets in the first place, and points to features in Aurora HDR that give you more control over your HDR compositions.

If you already own the Aurora HDR Photoversity Guide, you likely know all the information in this new ebook (it also include several new photos by me)—but you could send it to a photo-loving friend who's looking to bump up their HDR game. And if you don't yet own the Photoversity guide, there's a special offer at the end to get 40% off the guide.

To get it, go to the Aurora HDR Free Stuff page, enter your email address, and download the book (plus other goodies, too). Macphun designed the book to be read in the iBooks app on OS X or any iOS device. Take a look at some sample pages below:

Aurora HDR Photoversity Guide Excerpt at iMore

The good folks at iMore have just published an excerpt from my book, Aurora HDR and Aurora HDR Professional: A Photoversity Guide! If you're looking for a good overview of the software, and a more in-depth taste of what the ebook offers, go read it now: How to create HDR photos with Aurora HDR [book excerpt].

Included in the article is information on importing brackets (multiple exposures), having fun with presets, and using layers and masks.

Painting a mask on a separate layer

Painting a mask on a separate layer

Free Goodies for Aurora HDR Owners

Get the new Aurora HDR Gift Pack of presets free from Macphun.

Get the new Aurora HDR Gift Pack of presets free from Macphun.

If you own Aurora HDR or Aurora HDR Pro, check your email. Macphun sent a pair of holiday gifts in the form of HDR desktop wallpapers and some free HDR presets. (To install the presets, double-click the Gift-Pack.mpaupack file; Aurora HDR will expand it and put the presets in the correct place.)

If you do not yet own Aurora HDR, take advantage of the Holiday Bundle that gives you Aurora HDR Pro for $99 and includes bonus content such as a free copy of my book and training videos from Trey Ratcliff!

Buy Aurora HDR Pro, Get the Photoversity Guide for Free!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve teamed up with Macphun to present a special holiday deal for Aurora HDR Professional. For a limited time, buy Aurora HDR Professional for just $99 and get my Photoversity Guide for free! Also included is a Pro Training package by Trey Ratcliff, a pack of holiday textures, and a free month in Ratcliff’s The Arcanum. That’s $260 worth of great stuff for just $99.

When you take advantage of this deal, be sure to follow the link on the inside cover of the book to sign up at Photoversity in order to be kept up to date on forthcoming updates to the book.

I’m really enjoying Aurora HDR and can’t wait for you to use it and read my book. A free trial version of the software is also available, so you can give it a spin before buying—just make sure you jump on this deal soon to get my book for free

Aurora HDR Editing Extension Coming to Photos for OS X

In a press release today, MacPhun announced that the forthcoming Aurora HDR 1.1.1 will include an editing extension that enables HDR editing within Apple's Photos for OS X application on the Mac. I wrote an overview of editing extensions for Macworld a short time ago: Make Apple Photos for OS X more powerful with an editing extension.

Initially, this feature will apply only to the version of Aurora HDR that is sold through the Mac App Store, but Macphun confirmed to me that the Pro version will gain the ability soon after. Aurora HDR 1.1.1 is expected to be available sometime in the next 10 days (depending on how long it takes for Apple's app-review process to approve it). That version will also roll in improvements made to the Aurora HDR Pro 1.1 version that was released last week. (The versions aren't on the same release schedule due to Apple's limitations in the Mac App Store.)

Aurora HDR 1.1 Released

MacPhun just released version 1.1 of Aurora HDR and Aurora HDR Professional, with fixes and improvements in lots of areas. Choose Aurora HDR (or Aurora HDR Pro) > Check for Updates to download it. Here are the changes, copied from Trey Ratcliff’s Facebook page (because I forgot to copy and paste the release notes when I updated):

1. New presets category "Realistic HDR".
2. New option: Compare processed image to the middle image in the bracket set.
3. Improved Deghosting.
4. Improved Lightroom support. Easy way to use RAW files with Lightroom adjustments. 
5. Improved Aperture plugin - added ability to open multiply images.
6. New option: Use original image as source for layer.
7. New option: Customize the amount (opacity) of the effect for the first layer.
8. New control: Super Smooth slider for HDR Denoise. 
9. New option: Add new preset packs. 
10. Added and improved support for new RAW files (from different cameras).
11. Improved Image Zoom (zoom in where you click, not only at the image center)
12. More options for Deghosting (select reference image).
13. Sharing to 500px. 
14. New shortcut: Option+Click on the details mask slider to see this mask.
15. New shortcut - hold ‘M’ to show layer effect with 100% fill mask.
16. Variety of bug fixes.

I plan on updating the book to include these changes and a couple things that didn’t make it into the first release due to timing, right after I knock off a few other projects on my plate.

I hope you’re enjoying Aurora HDR and the book! If you don’t own it yet, click here to get your own copy.

Update: Here's another breakdown of changes, from MacPhun's press release:


  • Realistic HDR preset category for more natural one-click results.

  • Ability to add Custom Preset Packs

  • Compare your HDR image to the middle image of a bracketed set of exposures.

  • Adjust opacity for the original source layer.

  • Option to use the Original Image as the source for a new layer.

  • “Super Smooth” control added to HDR Denoise panel to provide extreme noise reduction and smoothing of any artefacts.

  • Shortcut: Option+Click on the Details Mask slider to see mask.

  • Shortcut: When brushing selective enhancements into a layer, press and hold the “M” key to view the effects with a 100% fill mask.

  • Sharing option for the popular 500px website.


  • Deghosting now produces better results automatically OR you can select one of your exposures as a “reference image” for ghost reduction.

  • Lightroom support adds the ability to export RAW files to Aurora that include their Lightroom adjustments.

  • Aperture support for merging multiple images.

  • Support for new RAW file formats from additional cameras.

  • Better Image Zoom supports zooming where you double-click and not only at the image center.

  • A variety of bug fixes, including better performance for image loading and interface response, color profile improvements and more.


Talking about Photoversity and Aurora HDR on MacVoices

I joined Chuck Joiner on MacVoices for a great talk about this new Photoversity venture and Aurora HDR and Aurora HDR Professional: A Photoversity Guide. Why was I crazy enough to design and write a book in two weeks? And how does the current state of publishing enable something like that, which couldn't have been done via most publishers? We cover it all. Watch or listen here:

MacVoices #15203: Jeff Carlson Launches Photoversity with Aurora HDR Guide