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Author Topic: To HDR or Not To HDR  (Read 17815 times)

unfocused

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To HDR or Not To HDR
« on: July 27, 2011, 12:41:03 PM »
Getting a little boring now with the lack of good rumors. So, time to spice things up a bit.

What do people think about High Dynamic Range?

Do you love it? Hate it? Never use it? Always use it? Find it annoying or the greatest thing since sliced bread?

When I first saw the effect a few years ago, I was intrigued. Some of the shots seemed very other-worldly and I wondered how they were made. Now, I admit, I'm getting a little bored with the whole look. Too many mediocre images hiding behind a special effect. I've never used it and when I've experimented with it, I've found I tend to like the "natural" look better.

So what do you think? Will this become the expected standard for all pictures or is it just a passing fancy?
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To HDR or Not To HDR
« on: July 27, 2011, 12:41:03 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2011, 12:43:51 PM »
So, time to spice things up a bit.

My S95 can do in-camera HDR, and I hope and pray that the 1DsIV offers that amazing feature.   :P

Seriously, it does have its place, but in general I prefer the natural look, and use HDR only when the DR of a scene truly exceeds the camera's capability.
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IWLP

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2011, 12:59:23 PM »
I really enjoy using HDR as a digital grad ND on steroids - preserving details where a grad ND done digitally (which has its detractors as well) would simply darken an object.

The over-baked/surreal/painterly look is not my cuppa, personally.  It may have its place, but personally, I haven't found it yet ... ;)
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awinphoto

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2011, 01:15:30 PM »
Coming from a film background, I always loved the zone affect... So to that extent, I view HDR as a way to achieve zone photography... but I like it to a very fine point... I like it when it's getting towards the zone affect... Just a kiss above what the camera can naturally pump out... when you start getting halo's and extreme HDR then i draw the line.  On my homepage on my website, the castle picture was used with HDR... Not overdone in my opinion (no halos) and just enough to bring out additional detail that couldn't be drawn out otherwise... That's as far as i go with HDR. 
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Sunnystate

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2011, 01:42:20 PM »
HDR is legitimate term and technique to use in photography.
Unfortunately, thanks to Photomatrix and other, in reality very simplistic programs, HDR become now a "dirty word" describing products of those programs!
Misused and abused without sense and reason.
To bad, wish there were two separate names one for true HDR and one for cheap, plugin filter like products, with all the wired colors, embossed like feeling, haloes over every object that contrast tonally with surrounding BG etc.

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2011, 02:13:09 PM »
To me HDR is just another tool to help out. How it is used and abused is up to the artist. I think it is an area that goes beyond photography after a point.

I guess I could sum it up in 3 levels: natural looking, dramatic, and overcooked.

Natural is what camera HDR tries to do, get you a decent amount of detail in both shadow and highlight regions.

Dramatic is turned up a notch. It's beyond real, but without looking too fake. I love the threatening cloud effects you can get out of that, used in moderation. It can be a fine line between dramatic and the next category...

Overcooked is beyond that again. Too much saturation. Fake, artificial colours, and the biggest eyesore to me: haloing. Just say no!
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neuroanatomist

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2011, 02:29:23 PM »
Misused and abused without sense and reason.

Anything can be overdone...


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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2011, 02:29:23 PM »

amarlez

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2011, 03:02:51 PM »
Exactly, neuroanatomist! Everything in excess is bad.

But with HDR, what's excess? The way I see it (pun intended?), the main idea of HDR was to get the camera closer to what the human eye sees. I always felt that's what the grandaddy of HDR, Ansel Adams, thought at least. Now, a camera on RAW has the majority of the dynamic range the human eye does in most situations (i.e. daytime landscapes). To go beyond what the human eye can see looks contrived, tacky and just plain bad. Not only that, but throw in the supersaturation HDRers like to use, and you actually start getting farther away from the human eye. I only HDR to give me those extra one, two, or maybe three stops on both sides of what properly exposed RAW image can give.

Sure you could say, "Well, that's my artistic prerogative," and you'd be entirely right. But then you could take a few torso-up portraits and fill the top with a rainbow gradient fill and suddenly call all those senior pictures you're going to make a couple hundred dollars on "art."

For me, the allure of photography is its commitment to reality.

V8Beast

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2011, 03:11:31 PM »
When HDR is used to bridge the gap in contrast between what the human eye sees and what the camera captures, I think it's a very useful technique. In some scenarios, it's almost mandatory to convey the essence of an image as it originally appeared to the photographer through the viewfinder. It's not that different from how ND grad filters were used back in the day. HDR just happens to be a much more precise method of achieving the same end result.

On the other hand, I can't stand the over-the-top, cartoonish look in which HDR is applied to an otherwise ordinary or sub-par photo. There's a reason why you hardly see that style of HDR in print. With few exceptions. the only place you'll see that rubbish is on Flickr, and that's where it belongs. 

Sunnystate

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2011, 03:20:40 PM »
Exactly, neuroanatomist! Everything in excess is bad.

But with HDR, what's excess? The way I see it (pun intended?), the main idea of HDR was to get the camera closer to what the human eye sees. I always felt that's what the grandaddy of HDR, Ansel Adams, thought at least. Now, a camera on RAW has the majority of the dynamic range the human eye does in most situations (i.e. daytime landscapes). To go beyond what the human eye can see looks contrived, tacky and just plain bad. Not only that, but throw in the supersaturation HDRers like to use, and you actually start getting farther away from the human eye. I only HDR to give me those extra one, two, or maybe three stops on both sides of what properly exposed RAW image can give.

Sure you could say, "Well, that's my artistic prerogative," and you'd be entirely right. But then you could take a few torso-up portraits and fill the top with a rainbow gradient fill and suddenly call all those senior pictures you're going to make a couple hundred dollars on "art."

For me, the allure of photography is its commitment to reality.
HDR comes from High Dynamic Range, which means no more and no less than ability to reproduce details in extremely bright areas and dark, without blowing off the whites or producing opaque detail less blacks in the shadows!
It does not mean wired bizarre or as some call  "artistic" effects.
All that, I am saying is that legitimate, perfect technical term was reduced in to description of cheap effects produced by couple of simple programs.

fotoray

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2011, 04:50:33 PM »
Exactly, neuroanatomist! Everything in excess is bad.

But with HDR, what's excess? The way I see it (pun intended?), the main idea of HDR was to get the camera closer to what the human eye sees. I always felt that's what the grandaddy of HDR, Ansel Adams, thought at least. Now, a camera on RAW has the majority of the dynamic range the human eye does in most situations (i.e. daytime landscapes). To go beyond what the human eye can see looks contrived, tacky and just plain bad. Not only that, but throw in the supersaturation HDRers like to use, and you actually start getting farther away from the human eye. I only HDR to give me those extra one, two, or maybe three stops on both sides of what properly exposed RAW image can give.

Sure you could say, "Well, that's my artistic prerogative," and you'd be entirely right. But then you could take a few torso-up portraits and fill the top with a rainbow gradient fill and suddenly call all those senior pictures you're going to make a couple hundred dollars on "art."

For me, the allure of photography is its commitment to reality.
HDR comes from High Dynamic Range, which means no more and no less than ability to reproduce details in extremely bright areas and dark, without blowing off the whites or producing opaque detail less blacks in the shadows!
It does not mean wired bizarre or as some call  "artistic" effects.
All that, I am saying is that legitimate, perfect technical term was reduced in to description of cheap effects produced by couple of simple programs.

My objective when using HDR is just that:  "reproduce details in extremely bright areas and dark, without blowing off the whites or producing opaque detail less blacks in the shadows!" And I have found some success using Photomatix.  However, my final images often come out flat with too little overall contrast, while also usually needing more saturation.  Generally just dull looking.  Can fix some of this in Photoshop, but results rarely live up to what my "mind's eye" visualized.  Often when I get the final contrast similar to what I want, the result is much like one of my bracketed images.  So I have gone to a lot of trouble when conceivably correcting the best bracketed image may have provided similar contrast - and a satisfying result. 

Can't avoid HDR that exists in many scenes we want to photograph.  So the motivation to reduce the DR in the  final image will always remain.  In time, the HDR software and/or in-camera equivalent processing is only going to get better.
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ers811

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Yes... maybe
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2011, 07:42:36 PM »
Funny, I've been browsing here forever, but registered because of this.

Me and HDR... we have a real love/hate relationship.  I was sucked in by some really good examples.  Then there is the really, REALLY terrible that just gives it a bad name.

I LOVE being able to something so quickly that used to be so difficult.  Unfortunately with the software now available, it's also easy to hit "go" with default settings and get something that looks more like an artistic Photoshop filter.  Seriously... go to Flickr and search "HDR"... the first page will be full of very scary results.  To each his own... if you're calling it artistic, that's great.  But if your goal is a great looking photo that just needs a bit of help to overcome lighting conditions and the limits of digital imaging sensors... well then I say practice-practice-practice, and go more mild than you are first temped to do.

I usually smooth enough that there is NO visible halo between the ground/buildings and the sky.  Even after adjustments in the program I use, I still end up desaturating and reducing noise.

I like the end result to make you say "Wow, that's a great photo! There's just SOMEthing about it!"... just before the point where you can tell it's unnatural.

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 08:19:21 PM »
HDR is a type of art.  some art just grabs me and I instantly love it.  Other art I don't care for.  I think its a matter of communication between the artist and the observer.  If the connection is made, you'll love it, if not, you may hate it.

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 08:19:21 PM »

UncleFester

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2011, 10:14:59 PM »
I've recently started enjoying LDR (low dynamic range). It's the new HDR.

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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2011, 07:11:16 AM »
As others have said, it's horses for courses and a valid tool for the toolbox.

Doing landscapes, I also use Dodge & Burn (to avoid the eye being drawn to parts of the picture which are irrelevant), ND Grads, Ortofen or multi-exposure and then either blend or HDR. HDR is just another technique in your bag of tricks....

I personally like some of the "extreme" HDR as an artistic shot - it all depends on what you want to convey...
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Re: To HDR or Not To HDR
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2011, 07:11:16 AM »