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Saturday, March 31, 2012

High Dynamic Range (HDR) - Overdone Technique

If there is one overdone photography technique these days, it's High Dynamic Range photography. One can go to any photo-site and see garishly lit up landscapes, and street photography. I guess for some photographers it's a great photography. But to me, it all looks rather artificial.

I'm not a fan of the nuclear winter, radioactively luminescent looks of those overdone HDR photographs. Last I heard, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the only cities that were nuked. So throwing up the "nuclear winter-HDR" look on the streets of Philadelphia, just doesn't work for me.

I know that I should put up an example of overdone HDR photography, But I loathe the result so much, I've sworn off "nuclear-winter-HDR" entirely. I will not waste 4-6 frames on my camera to achieve such a result.

When I want HDR, I want HDR as natural looking a photograph as possible, capturing the "dynamic range" of the photos. High Dynamic range is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wide dynamic range allows HDR images to represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight, and is often captured by way of a plurality of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter. - Wikipedia

2 exposure HDR - done on the iPhone 4s - note that it accurately represents the sunset scene just as my eyes saw it last evening

Note the statement "represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes"! The best way to explain this is "how your eyes work". When you look through your eyes, you see a natural looking "high-dynamic range image". You don't see an image that looks like someplace is undergoing nuclear winter with clouds looking like they are radioactively glowing. How your eye sees the world is in High Dynamic Range. Shouldn't your HDR images come close to that to be called true HDR?

Call those nuclear-winter style HDRs what they should be called: Apocalypse-HDRs. Leave them for gritty street photography (where you want to see every gritty detail in stark Bagginian philosophic "Life is a dark, unrewarding struggle" type photography) if you want to know the absolute truth. Note Julian Baggini is a modern-day atheistic philosopher whose viewpoint is this: "Sometimes life is shit and that's all there is to it. Not much bright about that fact." You want your photography to have some punch, then go after this kind of philosophic outlook on your photography if you want to use this kind of HDR: take a look at the proper subject in which to utilize this technique.

Your opinions and conclusions may vary. However, this is my blog and my opinion.

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