If you want to create true HDR images – those with a high dynamic range, meaning you get good detail in both shadows and highlights – then you need to take more than one photo of the same scene at different exposure settings. Once done, you need to merge these different exposures to get a final photo that has all the best parts of the individual photos you merged. What this process does is overlap the images so that each exposure you took is visible in one cohesive final photo, creating a higher dynamic range in the image than you would have been able to capture in a single photo.
If you would like to create such HDR photos of your own on your trusty old MacBook, then here are some of the best software you can use to do so:
The king of photo editors is also capable of creating HDR files, as one would imagine. Creating an HDR photo in Photoshop is a matter of a few clicks. Once your images have been merged into an HDR photo, you can simply continue editing your photo within Photoshop.
Photoshop, however, doesn’t have all the features you’d need to truly make exceptional images, not without a lot of hard work at least. But even that problem can be alleviated with using one of the many HDR plugins and actions available for Photoshop.
Speaking of Photoshop HDR plugins, Aurora HDR is the most extensive one you can spend your money on. It’s also available as a standalone program. It manages to cram a plethora of features and editing tools in a program that is easy to use and understand. The operation is quick and fluid, and HDRs are made in a very short amount of time.
The results Aurora HDR produces are very pleasing and natural looking. You can use presets if you want a one-click solution, or you can edit them for more control as well. Even if you don’t have multiple images to merge, Aurora HDR can also edit single images to look like HDR photos thanks to its capable tone mapping engine.
Overall, Aurora HDR is one of the best HDR editors you can get for a mac. It can be used a free trial before you buy it so you can get a true feel of how capable the software is.
Many people don’t consider AutoDesk’s Pixlr as a serious photo editor, but they really should. It is available for multiple platforms, but the web version is where you can find some great potential. The reason for our recommendation of the web version is that sometime it’s just easier to open up a website and edit your photos if you don’t have a dedicated editor installed on your MacBook.
Coming back to the editor’s HDR capabilities, Pixlr is not a true HDR editor. It can only superficially edit photos to make them look like HDR photos, and sometimes that is all people need. What it does is very good, however, and quite easy. All you have to do is use the Mimic HDR filter when you’ve uploaded your image, and your job is basically done. For a quick fix to blown out highlights or dark shadows, Pixlr’s web version is a great choice.