Aperture: Creating an HDR Image

Aperture is the photo editing and organizing software from Apple, which has many capabilities. Aperture being a RAW editor gives you the ability to create a HDR image from only one shot. This means you can create a HDR image even when there is movement of subjects and objects in your shot. With Aperture, you can edit the one shot you have taken, adjust the exposure, and make it into three shots which can then be made into a HDR image. Here are some simple steps through which you can create a HDR image in Aperture.

Step 1: Import Your Shot in Aperture

Under the top menu bar, click on the Import button which has a downward pointing arrow. Select the photo you want to import, and select it when you see the thumbnail.

Step 2: Create a Set of Images with Different Exposure Settings

Click on the Adjustments tab and you will find a few slider controls in this panel. The first slider is Exposure, which is going to be the main control in adjusting brightness of your photo. If you have taken a shot with normal exposure, you need to create two more images; one which is underexposed and the other overexposed. When you move the slider to the left, you can visually see the image getting darker. The numeric value in the box will also start changing.

For this example, we will bring the underexposure to -2 and the overexposure to +2. So, you will be saving three images with the exposure settings that are +2, 0 and -2. Now you have your set of images, which you can use to form one composite HDR image. We have used three settings as an example, but you can use even more to get the full range of depth and detail you need in your HDR image.

Step 3: Use Hydra Plug-In

Using the Hydra plug-in in Aperture is the easy way of getting fantastic HDR images. Select the three images you have just created and right-click on them. From the list that pops out, click on "Edit With" and then select "Hydra HDR Processing". This will open the Hydra editing window, and you will immediately see your three photos and the composite HDR image next to them. Actually, you just need to open Hydra and the HDR image is rendered automatically.

The Hydra editing window also provides you with controls where you can do the Tone Mapping adjustments to bring out details and make the HDR image look even better. Here too there are slider controls for Exposure level, Color Saturation and Gamma. The easy part is that you need not know the technical details of each slider, as you can visually see the effect it is having on your image when you move it. Now you will have a stunning HDR image which you can save.