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A digital polarizing filter is one of over 20 new features inside of Aurora HDR

Aurora HDR may only be a year old, but that was apparently long enough for the photography software to pick up a few awards and over 600,000 users. Wednesday, Macphun announced a major upgrade with Aurora HDR 2017 with over 20 different improvements.

Designed exclusively for the high dynamic range technique, the program includes several new tools and can now also work with single images instead of only HDR sets. The update also includes a new digital polarizing filter. And while the new feature can’t recover reflections like a physical filter, the new digital filter helps cut atmospheric haze, Macphun says, while producing deeper colors and richer skies.

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Applying adjustments to only certain areas of the image is also simpler with new luminosity mask controls. The new controls improve the speed of applying selective masks, the company says, by selecting entire zones of the image. Zones can be selected, then adjusted, from the image’s curves. The program also includes a new set of one-click presets for quick whole-image edits, with options designed by Trey Ratcliff, Captain Kimo, and Serge Ramelli.

The software designers also developed a new tone-mapping engine, which improved algorithms for speedier edits. The enhanced tone mapping also helps reduce noise and produce more natural results, according to Macphun.

Working with several merged images is also easier with new blend modes for layers, including darken, lighten, and color burn. RAW and DNG processing is now faster, and the program has new sliders for contrast, vibrancy, and warmth.

The 2017 version is at least 50-percent faster than the earlier program, Macphun says, with HDR merging up to 70-percent faster. A cleaner user interface helps simplify the program for new users, while extended RAW options adds support for newer cameras.

The upgraded HDR program is expected to be released on September 29. The program will list for $99, with pre-orders going for $89 for new users and $69 for an upgrade from the previous version.