Back in January, the folks from Creaceed released version 1.0 of Hydra -- a Leopard-only, GPU-powered photo application for creating High Dynamic Range photos that competes with the much-renowned Photomatix Pro. Just in time for the Apple Design Awards version 1.5 of Hydra is available. With more tone-mapping options, an image-navigation HUD, RAW importing (should you wish not to convert to 16-bit TIFF before importing), a plethora of Aperture options (more on those in a moment), and many more new features it's certainly a compelling release.
As mentioned before, there's plenty of Aperture integration with this release. As well as being able to import photos from (and export photos to) Aperture, Hydra is now available as an Aperture plugin (beta) - based on the all-new Aperture 2.1 Plugin SDK - that allows you to create HDR photos from within Aperture.
Unlike the cross-platform Photomatix Pro, Hydra's UI is the epitome of OS X slickness -- replicating much of the look and feel of both Aperture and other iLife applications. We'll be taking a look at both Hydra and Photomatix Pro in the near future to see whether Hydra's charms are merely skin deep.
Hydra 1.5 costs $59.95, and is a free update for those we already have a license.