Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The HDR wars

Either you love it or you hate it. What side are you on? Here's were I stand.

First a little history. From time to time I check in on David Ziser's blog. David is an excellent wedding photographer. I don't shoot weddings, but his approach and hints on lighting and general photography are wonderful. I highly recommend his blog. Well anyway, one day he suggests that his blog readers should check in on this Trey Ratcliff guy. I did and when I saw the above image I said for all to hear "I have to learn how to do this". (Click on it to see a larger version.) And that's what I did and I'm continuing to study his technique.

I believe that it's important to know as much as I can about a subject I love. I love photography. I shoot digital images. I process them in lightroom and photoshop. In both, I use plug-in programs. I experiment with all of these. I take courses online at Kelby Training, I belong to NAPP and look at their tutorials, I follow Matt Klaskowski's "Lightroom Killer Tips" all this among other blogs, books and DVD tutorials from Vincent Versace and John Paul Caponigro. Do I use every tip or trick. No, but my goal is to know that they're available if I need them. I believe that the more I know about what I can do in the digital darkroom the better my capture will be and then the better the final print will be.

I'm doing the same with HDR. Do I like all the hdr images I see. Again, no. However I want to know as much as I can about how they were shot and processed. Once I know how that all happens I can concentrate on the "WHY" I should or should not use it.

I went to the Princeton University Art Museum last year to see a exhibit of Ansel Adam's prints. The exhibit turned out to be about one subject, his famous "Moonrise". It was very interesting to see the 15 or 20 print variations of the same subject. They were all printed using different techniques. To my eye some were really good and some were just awful, with others running the whole gammet.

This all goes back to my own pictures. The one I see through the lens, the one my camera's sensor captures and the one that I process in the digital darkroom. Or should I say, the multiple pictures that come out of my digital darkroom. Some are really good and some are just awful.

Whether really good or just awful, shouldn't one of those be High Dynamic Range. I think so.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post and I think the message should inspire those who love photography to think more about learning and trying various techniques for personal pleasure, and yes, the enjoyment of others. By the way, I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to be "noticed" -- most humans need some form of recognition from time to time. It helps to motivate beyond natural self-motivation. But seeking recognition without the personal enjoyment and understanding of the subject is not much to be admired.

    As for HDR, I'm still mixed on it. I don't like many (most?) of the images I see. Even if it isn't intended, they appear to be done primarily to show the technique. Maybe that's why so many are over the top. But I will say that the ones I like, I REALLY like. So I'll continue to dabble and my guess is that I'll use it to enhance a photograph rather than doing something to demonstrate HDR. I'd like to use HDR as a tool, without mentioning that I used the technique. After all, I use layers and masking on most photographs, but I don't go around telling people "hey, I used 9 layers...." :-)

    Alan -- I think you do use the HDR technique to enhance your photography, and my hat's off to you for spending a lot of time learning how to do it.