In the photography community, a large number of people seem to prefer using Apple’s mac computers rather than Windows machines. The reasons for this are mostly subjective, but mac users swear by the stability and performance gains they get by using Apple’s OS rather than Microsoft’s.
Keeping that in mind, we are focusing this guide to HDR photo editing towards users of Mac OS. We will list some of the best HDR software that allow mac users to enhance the dynamic range in their photos using true HDR merging as well as tone mapping techniques.
The Many Advantages of HDR
HDR photography is one of the best ways to make sure that your photos come out well exposed. It merges multiple images of the same subject, taken at different exposures, to create a final photo in which the highlights, mid tones, and shadows are all exposed well.
HDR photography is very popular with real estate agents who want to showcase their properties in the best possible way and also landscape photographers who want to capture every detail possible in the scene before their eyes.
There are some very easy ways to create stunning HDR photos. You can do this process in-camera, if your camera supports HDR, or you can use one of the many HDR editing tools available.
With that brief introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best HDR processing programs you can use on your mac computer.
1. Aurora HDR
In a very short time, Aurora HDR has become one of the best overall HDR editors available. Recently, the previously mac-only program was made available for Windows users as well with an overhauled interface and many more pro-grade controls over how your images look.
Aurora HDR packs in a ton of features for a very affordable price. Created by pro photographer Trey Ratcliff, the software focuses on bringing all the HDR editing tool you would in a package with an excellent user interface that both professionals and beginners can use. It can help produce very natural looking as well as hyper realistic HDR photos, whichever you want, at the click of a few buttons. You can then control the intensity of the overall photo with luminance controls, color correction and more. You also have the ability to edit RAW files so that your HDR photos come out with the highest quality possible. The presence of other editing tools like lens correction for chromatic aberration also makes this the best overall choice for creating HDR images.
2. Adobe Lightroom
Let us make one thing clear right off the bat; Lightroom is not a robust, dedicated HDR editor. That said, the utility it brings by allowing to create HDR photos within the same window where you are probably already editing your individual brackets is unmatched. Once you have merged your exposures into an HDR photo, you can use the vast array of Lightroom’s tools to edit the final image how you want.
Adobe Lightroom is known to be fast and stable, and provides very natural results with its automatic image enhancing tools. You can control exposure, contrast, white balance, noise reduction, and much more from just one window. And when you are done with editing your individual photos, merging them into an HDR file is a matter of a few mouse clicks.
3. HDR Darkroom
HDR Darkroom blends technical editing tools with an easy to use design, and that is why it has made its way onto this list. It allows you to work with RAW files, so all your edits can be non-destructive. You have access to three advanced tone mapping options which you can use alongside the various manual editing controls to achieve whatever look you want for your final photo.
4. HDR Projects
If you are a more experienced photo editor, HDR Projects might be the thing you’re looking for. It boasts many advanced features as well as presets for quicker edits. The best part about this software, however, is its easy integration with Lightroom. This opens up a lot of possibilities for photographers who want to develop a distinct style for their photos. You can create HDR photos in Projects, utilizing its great presets, and then take your file directly into Lightroom to finish up and tweak the settings to your liking.
As the name suggests, easyHDR is for people who don’t want to spend too much time grappling with a pro-grade software’s advanced features. It has an interface that is easy to navigate, and provides RAW support and Lightroom integration as well. There are presets here too which you can use to get some quick results. Overall, the software is aimed at those people who are just dipping their feet into the world of HDR photography. More seasoned photographers better go for something like Aurora HDR.
6. Photomatix Essentials and Pro
If you want something that gives you the option to use either a basic version of itself or a more advanced one, then you should try Photomatix. It can either be used for basic needs in the form of Photomatix Essentials or turned into a fully capable HDR processor in the form of Photomatix Pro.
Overall, Photomatix has been known for quite some time for its very capable tone mapping controls and natural results. You can alter many aspects of your final image, just as with most other HDR processors, but its tone mapping controls are really something unique. There are four individual methods for tone mapping in Photomatix, and each can be used to get a distinct look for your photos.
As with any kind of software, your choice of HDR editor will depend largely on your own needs and preferences. If you want something basic and simple, go for easyHDR or Photomatix Essentials. If you want something more advanced and an easy interface is not your preference, go for HDR Projects. But if you want the best of both worlds; a program that combines intuitive interface with advanced editing tools, our vote goes to Aurora HDR as the best one for you.