I was lucky to get access to a demo version of Luminar Neo which features the paid extension “HDR Merge”. The extension is very simple in its interface and allows the user to use between 1 to 10 photos to create an HDR stacked image.

With that in mind, I wanted to get an idea of how the extension works, not just with photos from Skylum but also by including some of my own images. I did two tests, one using a single photo, and the other using three images.

The User Interface

The user interface is straightforward and is really just an extension to the Luminar Neo package. Once the extension is registered a small area in the bottom right of the program becomes available for you to drag photos into, this also includes a gear to determine if you want to auto-align images, and the amount of Ghost Removal you want to apply (if you want to apply it, and the reference image), that is really it in terms of settings. It should be noted with the example, and the image below this was a demo and changes may occur to the interface before the final version so this is provided simply as a guide.

Luminar Neo user interface with HDR Merge panel bottom right.

Example Images

I wanted to try a couple of examples to show how the software worked, not all photos are suited to HDR but often either landscape or architecture images can work well, so I thought I would try one with a single image, and then another with multiple images (of different exposures). it is worth noting that, generally speaking, if you can capture multiple exposures it will lead to a better outcome.

In the below example I took a landscape/architecture shot of a church in Bendigo from an observation tower, the image on the left is the before photo which has not really been edited beyond cropping, and the image on the right is the HDR processed image with no other edits. If you click on the middle slider you can move it left to right to see more or less of the before or after version of the image.

In the second example, a total of three images of a landscape (below) were captured at varying exposures (-1, 0, +1) which were processed using HDR Merge, the images below are these three exposures.

The three images were processed in HDR Merge which led to the image comparison below, the image to the left is the middle exposure (single image) whilst the image to the right is the HDR processed image from Luminar Neo’s HDR Merge, as with above you can click the middle to drag left and right to see the original and the processed image.

Comparison between the original image (left) and the HDR processed image.

The extension (which requires Luminar Neo) is available for pre order between now and July 28th after which it was reported that Aurora HDR will be discontinued. If you are interested in finding out more you can do so by clicking here.

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