HDR “Over-Cooked” Rant

2014-5750                    2014-5750grunge

Greetings,

I wanted to touch on something that’s been gnawing me for quite some time, “Over-Cooked” HDR images. I know… I know we’ve all done it, in fact when I started doing HDR back in 2005 I would completely overcook an image giving it that total grunge look. That was in style back then.  But as you grow as a photographer you learn that this is not what HDR is meant for. HDR, or High-dynamic-range is a set of techniques used in photography to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than possible using a standard digital camera.

So, when we look at a scene we see a tremendous depth of luminosity ranging from the brightest brights to the darkest darks. We all know that a camera has a limited dynamic range… right… The next question is how do you translate this to fit into your cameras dynamic range? Well, dynamic range of a camera means nothing by itself. What matters is how well you can make the subject fit within the range of the camera (a correct exposure). That’s what makes a photographer a photographer.

Don’t get me wrong I use HDR as much as the next guy but the goal is to make it look natural and real. If you can cover the complete dynamic range in one frame then why wouldn’t you only shoot and process one!

P.S. I’ll leave the editing of an HDR for another rant 🙂

Best of Light,

Ed

5 thoughts on “HDR “Over-Cooked” Rant

  1. “So, when we look at a scene we see a tremendous depth of luminosity ranging from the brightest brights to the darkest darks. We all know that a camera has a limited dynamic range… right… ”

    Well sure….but if an object is in the shadows then is SHOULD look dark. Using HDR to highlight an shadowed object looks funky!

    Both of your pictures look fine to me. The original is what I expect to see if I was actually viewing the scene. The HDR is a fine piece of artwork.

    1. Hi John,
      When a image is processed there should be two starting points, a white point and a black point. This is where, in today’s world, things are starting to get blurred. We as photographers, have started to make the black point a nice shade of grey and not a true black. Over-processed is over-processed and the goal of creating a good photograph is to make the HDR image as natural as possible. I shoot many and I mean many HDR images but my ultimate goal is not to let the viewer know they are HDR.
      Thanks for your comment John and have a Merry Christmas!

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