Aurora is definitely one of the best photo optimization and sharing apps I’ve tried and the great news is,
the developers are currently offering a 24 hour free offer. Normally the app would set you back $20. All you have to do is click on the “Buy Now” links for either Mac or Windows and enter the promotional code “FREE24” when checking-out your copy. The offer is valid until 9:15 a.m. EST. Don’t be put-off by the Paypal or Verfied by Visa logos either – the download link and validation code will be sent to your e-mail address. [Er… it looks like we published this post at the exact moment that the offer ended. D’oh! – Tom]
The special offer is Lightcraft’s way of celebrating their newly upgraded Mac version which I’ve been very impressed with. The app packs a lot of powerful optimization tools into an interface that’s elegant and easy to use. Aurora is all about retouching, organizing and sharing photos. It’s mainly designed to bring the best out of light or color imbalanced photos via an easy to use GUI.
The photo editor features a pop-up image selector that lets you preview and tinker with your photo until the desired results are achieved. Amongst the tasks you can perform are re-touch, straighten, adjust color strength, crispness and warmth, crop, zoom and adjust red-eye. The most useful feature is probably the relight tool which seems to magically add new life to photos and bring out colors and details that weren’t as clearly visible before.
All the folders containing photos on your computer are listed down the left hand side of the main grid. Selecting any one of them will reveal the photos contained in them on the photo grid. I found that the photos took a while to load into the grid compared to iPhoto or Picasa but it’s no big problem bearing in mind this is not a photo editing rather than a photo viewing app.
Once the photos are loaded, you may be prompted to backup all of them to an Amazon database. I was offered the chance to do so for free since I had less than 2GB of photos which is quite a generous offer. The 4 main options along the top of the photo grid are publish, edit, e-mail and print. The most important is edit as this brings up all the main editing options.
What I really liked about Aurora is that applying effects is simple and you’re given a preview of what your photos will look like across the top of the grid. You can select from different gradients of the effect without having to apply anything. You can however get a bit bogged down in the amount of adjustments possible. It’s far easier to click “Auto Relight” and Aurora will automatically detect what will make your photo look better. I also liked the “Retouch” button which allows you to doctor images incredibly easily. Want to erase someone from an image? Just click Retouch and select which part of the image you’d like to replace with something generic from elsewhere in the picture.
Meanwhile publishing is integrated with both Flickr and Facebook and e-mailing is even integrated with online web accounts such as Windows Live Mail and Gmail.
By the way, once you’ve finished optimizing your masterpieces, don’t forget to enter them into the Aurora Friday challenge competition. Prizes include an HP Photosmart Premium Printer, Canvas on Demand Photo Canvas or a Kodak Easyshare Digital Camera.