Is HDR ruining photography?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by dave_hickey, Aug 15, 2008.

  1. Hi all,

    I ask the question, Is HDR ruining photography? Not as a gripe or any dislike of HDR, in fact I am quite sold on HDR,
    if not fully addicted to it, and that is the problem.

    Where once I took images in sinlge shots, now I always take three, just so I have the option of HDR processing
    them if I want to.

    Why not combine the two methods I hear you say, but what if I get a single shot that I am pleased with, but yet at
    the back of my mind I know it would have been so much better with HDR. Where once I was happy, now I am not so

    Make three shots from one RAW then, but again, not as good as the full dynamic range available from three shots,
    so again, less happy.

    So now I go on holiday and instead rattling off a couple of thousand shots over a two week period, I take six
    thousand shots. More kit, more storage, more expense, more effort. Again less happy.

    I used to hand hold prety much all the images I took, what with L lenses and IS, I could do this very well, HDR now
    means I have to lug a tripod around all the time, with angle viewfinder and cable release etc etc.. More expense,
    more kit, less happy.

    Every picture I take now has good light distributed all the way through it thanks to HDR and I love it, but all my
    previous pictures that I had taken on expensive holidays abroad and that I was once felt proud of and will never get
    the chance to visit again, now don't seem as good as I once thought they did, and have been consigned to the back
    of the hard disk. Less happy.

    Oh and this goes without saying about the blooming, or cartoony effects over processing images can produce, or the
    RSI I get from selecting and aligning images into HDR pictures, or the wife berating me and saying why don't I marry
    that damn computer, you spend so much time hunched over in front of it. Less happy.

    But every now and then, an HDR image appears on my screen that blows me away and I think, wow! I took that.

    So yes I am totally addicted to HDR, and wish it had never been invented.

  2. I don't think the day would be complete anymore without an HDR good\bad thread. It's neither, and both. Depends on how it's used and what you like. It's just another dimension to the awesome field of photography.
  3. if hdr makes you happy it seems like an easy decision. if your marriage however seems to be in trouble because of
    it, well, only you know if to continue on the path of hdr or not...

    personally i don't think hdr is ruining anything. just that the vast majority of "hdr photos" are plain ugly - to
    my eyes. but then, i probably see a bunch of hdr photos that don't scream hdr, where the technique truly adds
    something to the image instead of being used just for its own sake. and that's where its strengt lies imo.
  4. Perhaps you need to start a new organization: HAA ("HDR Addicts Anonymous")

    "Hello, my name is Dave and I'm addicted to HDR."
    "Hello Dave!"

    Seriously, I think you make some good points. HDR can make some spectacular photos, but it's a real PIA to do. Perhaps the next step in your development is to work past the "HDR for everything" phase and start being more selective about choosing when to use it?
  5. Treating every shot as an HDR image would seem to me to take the pleasure out of photography. Not every image should be sensationalistic, as if you are working out-in-the-field for an advertising job. Take advantage of the classical restraints of photography as a medium while they are still standard. It sounds to me like you don't trust your capabilities.
  6. To answer your question: yes. It's become a fad applied mostly in bad taste. Contrast between clearly visible details and details hidden in the shadows is mostly lost with HDR, not good for an image that leaves something to the imagination. HDR should be used in rare cases only and then with the greatest possible care. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
  7. It's not ruining photography for me. I don't shoot, or particularly care about, the style of photography that lends itself to HDR.
    For me, photography is about "moments" rather than "scenes". You can't make the same "moment" happen 3 times.
    <img src="" height="450">
  8. Look up high speed HDR on Outback Photo- no tripod needed.

    Or shoot color negative film and you'll get all the DR you ever need.
  9. The outbackphoto stuff still requires three frames. If you can make three of the exact same moments in time exist, I'll point you towards the pope and introduce you as the second coming of christ.
  10. If your photography is making you unhappy, change your photography. If HDR makes you happy, decide when you care enough to use it and when you prefer not to.

    Obviously, HDR isn't ruining photography, marriages are. (Do I even need to insert the smiley?)
  11. If photography can survive Cross processing, the Canon D30, then HDR is no threat. I tend to wonder as sensors get better
    with less noise and greater exposure latitude will there even be a need for HDR. HDR is just another technique, nothing
  12. HDR is definitely not ruining photography, but it does seem to ruin a lot of photographs.
  13. it


    passing fad
  14. "The outbackphoto stuff still requires three frames"
    Right- it's not for action photography. I'm sorry it wasn't clear I was not responding to your post but rather the original one which talked about lugging the tripod around.

    Anyway, I guess "HDR is ruining photography" is the latest evolution of the "Velvia is ruining photography" or "Photoshop is runing photography" train of thought.
  15. "HDR now means I have to lug a tripod around all the time, with angle viewfinder and cable release etc etc.. More expense, more kit, less happy." Why? The same way you can use a stitcher to stitch a panorama, you can use it to align frames of the same field. As long as the subject hasn't moved, the movement of the camera is no problem. Of course you have to stay within traditional no-shake-limits.
  16. it


    I don't see HDR in advertising or editorial photography. I don't think many pros are using it, and I don't think many photo editors are buying it. It's something for geeks to play with and display on websites where amateurs post their photos.
  17. I don't think HDR is ruining photography but it sure is another process that's being abused heavily judging by the sheer amount of freaky HDR images I see.
  18. <Where once I took images in sinlge shots, now I always take three, just so I have the option of HDR processing
    them if I want to.>
    Not me, I just shoot 1 RAW image. If I decide to produce an HDR image, I output up to 5 tiff images of different
    exposures from the single RAW file and process them together in xFuse ( a Mac freeware app).
    Bracket all you want, but I'm shooting 1 good image and moving along.
  19. You don't always need HDR. I don't like it because lots of my photos are action shots or moments when HDR wouldn't make sense. I'd rather take three photos at different angles than three photos with exactly the same composition.

  20. I have a friend who shot 4,000 bracketed shots on a short vacation (in case he wanted to use HDR). He didn't use a tripod
    but said they worked out OK. I think his camera lets him bracket 6-7 shots.

    I tried it recently on a trip but could only bracket three at a time. I have yet to process them. I did try the one shot Raw
    some time back with mixed results.
  21. Sorry that link should be:

    Also see the post we have going on here:
  22. "So now I go on holiday and instead rattling off a couple of thousand shots over a two week period, I take six thousand shots. More kit, more storage, more expense, more effort. Again less happy."

    jmho...If you're cranking out six thousand images during a two week period, you may as well be using a camcorder! I would consider that living through your viewfinder, rather than experiencing the holiday...If that makes you happy..go for it, but how do you evaluate and process that many images???

    My suggestion would be to make fewer (alot fewer, say 50 or 60 max.) images and spend more time taking in the scene and considering your exposures.

    jmho ;o)
  23. Hey guys, I agree with Josh about "moments", photography has many different aspects, catching 3 shots when there are fast moving subjects is not possible. I don't know about everyone else but when I saw my first HDR photo I thought it was really cool, but now when I am looking at the ctitique forum I find myself thinking 'ah, another HDR photo...' for some reason now I am finding the lack of shadows and contrast in HDR photos not so appealing. I must admit though that clouds in HDR photos are pretty cool. I guess its once again a case of being diverse and not simply relying on HDRing (have I just created a new verb?) every subject you shoot after all, no amount of special software can make a poorly framed photo look brilliant :)
  24. Boy, am I glad I shoot film! This is one less thing to worry about.
  25. Um I hate to ask a noobie question but can somebody explain to me how to do an HDR image. I take it this is a
    bit more then simply bracketing the shot and cutting photo shopping in the best exposed sky..
  26. "Is HDR ruining photography?"

    Not unless you let it ruin yours. I don't touch the stuff myself.

  27. Dave: You make a great point, but technology is only going to continue to change. I think that digital photography is still relatively new and will greatly change over the next five years. So, you ought to just use the tools that work for you and stay happy.
  28. It's ruining many photos, but it has its place... Here's a link to "35 fantastic HDR images".
    I would say in this lot there are about 4 or 5 images that are very good, and a few more that are decent
    Here are the ones I thought were at least decent:
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • What these all had in common was the use of HDR techniques to let me see a wider range of brightnesses, without eliminating the effect of shadow or giving an overpowering sense of ethereal glowing, as well as not having motion blur or strong halos. Many of these might be doable from a single RAW photo at 14 bits. Don't obsess about HDR so much, and try shooting RAW and getting some of the effect of the HDR from a single shot. It might be a good compromise.
  29. the above look like paintings, not photographs.
  30. I have to agree, these don't look like photographs, they look like illustrations, paintings, or computer-generated images. That's not to say that they're not good or not art, but I simply don't consider these things to be photographs. Just like a traditional B&W print that's been dodged and burned poorly doesn't look like a photograph anymore, most HDR pictures I see just don't look "real", so I don't consider them photographs.

    And if they're not photographs, they can't be ruining photography, right? ;-)
  31. What Chris said. Although I enjoy "some" of it, t's really almost a completely different art form in my opinion.
  32. From steve mareno
    "Boy, am I glad I shoot film! This is one less thing to worry about."

    Nobody really needs to worry about it, I don’t really care for HDR photos much myself. But if you do like the look of
    a HDR photo then you have to worry about is with film just as much as with digital. Getting the high dynamic range
    is the easy part, it is converting all that dynamic range into the limited range that a print has, which is good for
    maybe 5 stops. Even if you display the image on a monitor you will have a far less dynamic range then a single shot
    from a DSLR captures.

  33. Well, I don't really think so as there are so many actually doing any good with it. So many are doing so poorly at it, most will give up on it.....If Ansel Adams were still around shooting, he most certainly would be at the forefront......Jim
  34. Pretty funny. After years of trying to explain it to them, people are finally realizing why film is better than digital, so now they are jumping through hoops to emulate it.

    The good side is now maybe sensors will by designed with latitude in mind. Just like my Fuji S5 that nobody seems to want.
  35. One note for those who think they don't see HDR being used commercially: Almost all architectural interiors are done HDR these days. They're just done well, so you don't notice.

    You only notice HDR when it's done wrong.

    HDR is digital film, that's all. If done carefully, 6 images will give you the dynamic range of B&W. 3 images gives you the range of color negative. The goal should be an end result you can push, pull, dodge and burn just like film.

    In other words, a big step forward so we can get back to where we were 50 years ago.
  36. Anyone remember Technicolor? One lens and a 3 way prism with color filters capturing R G B on black and white film. I wonder how long it will be before we see an HDR specific camera that uses a similar technique with ND filters replacing the color filters and 3 sensors capturing 3 seperate exposures at the same instant in time. It would be bulkier than a single sensor camera, however sennsor quality has gone way up and that might permit a hand holdable camera using something like the 4/3 sensor.
  37. it


    I should add that I agree 100% with Edward. My comments were aimed at the OTT stuff you see here and on Flickr. Most of it looks like it should be printed on black velvet.
    For architecture, it's amazing. I don't often shoot that stuff, but I used it recently to solve a problem. I was shooting a housing development on Koh Samui and the range of stops was incredibly wide. So I just used HDR to blend 6 exposures. The results were OK, but would have been better had I actually known what I was doing with the software.
    Here are the first and last exposures, along with the final result: Koh Samui
  38. Those "35 fantastic HDR images" are a bit more than HDR. They pull (overpull) all triggers PS has to offer.The
    sky in the third (the palace) is actually taken from a Hubble Space Telescope image of the Ring nebula M57, for
  39. Ups, it is the Helix M27, not the Ring M57. But then....
  40. at


    I like it...when properly executed. Just like anything else in this digital era it can be overdone, mis-used, etc.
    I have played with it a bit and will continue to explore its possibilities.
  41. Uh... if you look at the way that masters like Adams worked in the darkroom, HDR is not new, and is not a fad, and is not
    ruining photography. Bad photographs, whether HDR or not, will be bad, and good ones will be good.
  42. Most of the HDR I see is overdone by far.

    As for ruining photography, only an individual can do that and only to themselves.
  43. HDR adds a bunch of new options to what you can do with digital images. If course, these are the same options film photographers have had in the darkroom for over 100 years. The main options are simple: Push, Pull, Dodge, Burn. Simple, but hard to use well. Master printers like Lee Friedlander work with only these four options, but it takes decades to master them.

    Most people who look at an Ansel Adams print have no idea how much work went into the print. Adam's goal was to create something that looked totally natural, even if that meant a two-stop push followed by 20 burns. It wasn't uncommon for Avedon to make 80 separate dodge and burns. Yet most such manipulations are invisible.

    For those who are wondering, true dodge and burn have nothing to do with Photoshop dodge and burn. One of the reasons that HDR images still tend to look unnatural is that PS doesn't properly support them. They have to be done with layers or history brushes which means the transitions are never smooth.

    Digital HDR is very exciting in its possibilies. Now I'm just waiting for the software to catch up.
  44. Part of the point of my "35 Fantastic HDR images" was that of the 35, I could only find 9 or so that I didn't think were terribly gaudy, and of those 9 only about 3 or 4 were pretty good (architectural shots mostly).

    So it's easy to ruin a photo with poor use of HDR, and yet, it's a real benefit for certain types of shots (especially architecture, I agree).

    And I've seen a movie of Ansel Adams dodging and burning his negatives extensively in the darkroom. This is nothing new, just something you can easily screw up if you overdo it.
  45. Also, here's a question for the technical experts:

    Canon sensors on the XSI and other recent DSLRs have a 14 bit RAW file. If you bracket a single JPEG by 2 stops in either direction (3 images) you wind up with an 8 bit base image, and then 4 additional stops of data from the two bracketed exposures. In theory a 14 bit RAW will have 14 stops of brightness information, whereas the 3 JPEGS will have 12 stops. In other words, the single RAW shot has broader range.

    Is there an advantage to 3 JPEGs over 1 RAW? (the only one I can think of is perhaps reduced noise in the shadows) Obviously 3 RAW images with 3 stop bracketing would be the ultimate in HDR/latitude but I think it's going a little over the top to try to compress 20 bits of luminance into the final 8 bit JPEG or probably 6 or 7 bit (luminance) print.

    What I'm trying to say here is that a single RAW image *seems* to have enough theoretical latitude to produce all the HDR you could ever use without gaudiness. What am I missing?
  46. "3 stop bracketing would be the ultimate in HDR/latitude" Architectural photographers I know regularly do 10. This slightly over-the-top one took 13 different exposures to get the entire range. That's two more than the best color film can do, so yes, HDR IS the future if they can make sensors that do it all in one take. And that's coming from a film bigot. Of course, this means nothing was bracketed. took several seconds to make all the changes. If you look carefully you can see that some of the people are transparent.
  47. Hmmm. Tripods, long/multiple exposures, blurry people. Seems like what photography was like 150 years ago.....
  48. You CAN do 13 stop RAW multiple-exposure HDR but it is going to take a lot of work to convince me that it's necessary. With a 14 bit raw image, you could do a 3 shot bracket with 7 stops below and 7 stops above and mix those 3. The dynamic range is now 28 bits luminance. You ultimately have to produce a JPEG for the web which is going to have 8 bit luminance or maybe a single 16 bit TIFF for prints, but printed paper has lower dynamic range than a typical screen... so it's hard to imagine that you can get much useful from anything beyond 3 shots of 3 stops RAW bracketing.

    If you want to be super fancy 3 shots of 7 stop manually dialed in RAW bracketing... but you just don't need more than 20 bits of *extra* luminance information (20 bits is 1 million times the information of the final result).

    I can even imagine if you KNOW you want an HDR composite, just shooting RAW with 3 stops below and 3 stops above and no center shot. Would take a little more work, but an automated compositing program could work out a proper 16 bit image file combining the two, and then you could dodge and burn to your hearts content to pull out the extra detail.

    I think where some of this falls apart is noise, but I still assert that even if the 14 bit RAW file has noise in the bottom 2 bits, and therefore only 12 bits of noise-free data, with a 3 stop bracket +- 6 stops you get 24 bit luminance information essentially noise free... 24 stops of data is PLENTY if you know how to work with it.
  49. No, HDR is adding another dimension to photography. And next year there will be something else
    as the digital world moves so quickly. New mediums/techniques bringing into the art of photography new
    people- how can that be bad?
  50. I needed 13 exposures so I could get color in the stain-glass windows (the one at the bottom is quite visible) and the pews in front of me, which had no direct lighting at all. On my spot meter it was EV 4 clear up to EV 16, plus one for good measure.

    And Russ, you're right. It's very much like the early days of film before fast emulsions. The above example is an extreme one. Most of the time you can make do with 5 exposures, which means you could have used film and done it all in one shot hand-held.

    And to the fellow who noted that these look more like paintings than photographs, yes they do. If that's what one wants then it's good. If it's not, well, use film.

    It will be a while before film is obsolete.
  51. EV 4 to EV 16 means 12 stops. a 14 bit RAW file should have 14 stops of brightness range, but yes little color in the bottom or top few stops. Still if you take 1 RAW shot at EV 5, one at EV 10 and one shot at EV 15 you would have all the information you need to composite them. Taking 13 shots is basically assuming that the sensor only captures information in a 1 EV band, but it's actually getting good info in a 10 to 12 EV range, even if you only trust the middle 8 EV you can still cover the range with only 3 shots.
  52. Daniel, the bits in a non-hdr RAW file only describe the brightness as related to the output (screen etc), not input. A 14 bit raw file does NOT capture 14 stops, any more than a value of 255 in a jpg is 8 stops of input above a 0. Depending on how your screen is calibrated 255 may be 2^8 x brighter than 0, but that has nothing to do with the EV of the incoming light when the image was taken. The sensor is what captures the dynamic range, then the camera scales it however it wants to product the RAW file. The RAW file MAY contain some extra info beyond the output data. My Fuji does that. But how that data is represented is not related to the number of bits. Once the raw file has been processed into a 16 bit image any extra info is discarded.
  53. Nice work, Ed. First demonstration I've seen in a while of an advantage of digital. The d-lighting and other in-camera shadow opening systems on consumer digital cameras was a first step. We may not use it, but isn't being able to represent the widest possible range a first goal of image-making. First, learn how to put everything; then, learn what to take out.
  54. Well, CCDs work linear, so a CCD with a 14 bit converter and sufficient full-well capacity is indeed capable of 14 stops. It is actually not really a problem to build CCDs with that dynamic range and more (much more), the problem is rather that the readout times increase drastically with converter bits, which is not suitable for DSLRs.

    While it is of course possible that the in-camera converter scales up the converter bits into a higher number of bits in the RAW frame, this plainly makes no sense. I know for sure that 12bit RAWs came directly from the sensor ADU converter, because the 12bit CCD converters were/still are industry technical standard. I admit I'm mot so sure about 14bit, though.

    That said, there is normally a ground level (called bias) that takes away several stops, as well as noise, in which the first few EVs drown, so you won't get the full range.
  55. I would rather work with great light and technique than sit in front of the computer any more than I have to. I really don't
    care for most of the HDR stuff I see, it looks too flat.

    So no, it's not ruining photography...certainly not mine.
  56. As Thomas said, I'm pretty sure the RAW files give you the raw data off the CCD/CMOS. JPEGs are definitely
    processed by the camera, but the point of RAW is that it's raw. So extending the dynamic range via extra
    bracketing can be thought of as extending the number of bits of good signal that you can attach to each pixel.

    Edward, your architectural shot is a perfect example of advantage of HDR techniques but I think with
    appropriately spaced 3 raw files you can get that kind of result.
  57. Computers have also ruined writing as has the combustion engine ruined travelling. It was much better with typewriters and horse-drawn buggies. Come on, stop griping about new technologies you old curmudgeons. It has always been my dream that cameras have "selective" exposure to correctly expose different parts of a scene. For now, we have HDR. I think that HDR might have ruined Dave Hickey's life style, not photography. It seems that you have become a slave of HDR, Dave, and are now bracketing everything. Stop bracketing when you're travelling with your family and only bring the tripod along when you are doing special stuff. Yeah , I know. My advise is falling on deaf ears. Like me - I always seem to be dragging the tripod around. I haven't mastered HDR yet - I'll probably have to spend inumerous long hours long hours trying to master it if I don't give up first. These digital post-production skills are very difficult it seems. Thanks for the great links. I'll probably learn all I need to know with the links here. Thanks fot the thread. Cheers, Alex.
  58. of course HDR does not ruin anything. It´s just plain boring and lifeless, as the examples above show.
  59. I don't think HDR has ruined photography. As so many have already said, it's that too many people misuse it and create pictures that no longer look like photographs, but that either look like paintings or images that belong firmly in the 'computer manipulated images' section of a photo contest. Done well it can help a photographer produce a beautiful image, but to me there's still a lot to be said of capturing a moment the way it was experienced or seen, which means doing your best to get your exposure right when you press the shutter, whether you're using film or digital. I think HDR should be used, judiciously, to help achieve this when the conditions of a photographic moment exceed the photographer's and the camera's capability to accurately capture what was seen.
  60. It all depends what you think photography is? Is it recording? Or is it creating? If you believe the former, it removes from the purity of the recording. However, in the latter, HDR is one more paint brush that the artist can use in "creating an image". Not all art is good :)
  61. Sven, I couldn't agree more. The only time I use it is when film won't work due to wide f-stop range. No question that film looks more alive. But what it does show is that digital has the potential to someday be as good or better than film.
  62. My Exhibited HDR Work :

    Love and Light

  63. HDR is nothing new. Photographers in the 19th century used to have negatives of clouds which were combined with the images where the skies were overexposed. This was necessary because the spectral sensitivities of plates made this a frequent problem.
  64. HDR is really no much different than doing a pull when developing B&W film, except that you can do it it color, but with somewhat artificial looking colors. In theory you can also do a true dodge and burn, but currently Photoshop does not support local operations on 32bit images. Once you convert it to 16 bit the invisible high and low info is lost. I'm sure that in the future PS will move more toward HDR and we will see much better support.

    So yes, HDR is just a way for digital photographers to do what film photographers have been able to do from day one.

    The ultimate digital camera will be one that captures 14EV of data in a single pass. Among other interesting things, this would eliminate the need for metering, since it could all be done in post processing!

    Oh, and the ultimate digital will have seperate sensor for RGB with a broader spectrum sensitivity for each.

    I'm hoping I'll see this in my lifetime. Meanwhile I'm keeping my F3.
  65. I always thought that photography was about capturing the moment, not about capturing 10 differently exposed moments to combine later so that they look like the perfect moment. Many of the posts above demonstrate HDR being over-used to the point that these pictures no longer look like photographs, but rather paintings of a fake world that neither our eyes, or a sensor/film can see without taking multiple exposures.

    Maybe HDR started with people using it for 3D, then somebody said "hey, this is a cool picture" but wherever it started, I hope it doesn't go too much further. It's taking a lot of the creative control in photography away from behind the camera, and putting it in front of the computer screen. Whereas before people would be out there using filters to try and achieve a look with as much dynamic range as possible, now you can just take 10 different exposures and scurry home to assemble them on your computer.

    I don't think that HDR will ruin photography, but I do think that it is ruining photographers. The effect that HDR gives a lot of photographs, seems to make people think that they no longer need to take interesting pictures, they can simply 'wow' people with the effect of HDR, regardless of the subject matter.

    With that being said, as with any art, I think that HDR photography is still in its infancy and I think a lot of people are still really (REALLY) overdoing it simply because it is a relatively new effect. As some examples above show, when it is done tastefully, it can add some range to a picture without it looking fake, but then there are some examples where the effect is so overdone that it's just tacky.
  66. AHA! Now I understand what's going on. When I or other architectural photographers talk about shooting HDR, we mean using HDR to create a digital negative that we can then further manipulate to look more or less like a normal image. Without my noticing, what seems to have happened is that many photographers are skipping the final manupulation, which is tricky, to get decidedly unnatural looking images.

    So when we say HDR we're really talking about two things. For some, HDR no longer means "High Dynamic Resolution", but means strange colored skies and abnormal skin tones. For others, HDR is a tool you use on location so you don't have to lug lights around, but the ultimate goal is to get normal looking images.

    I doubt that the latter is ruining photography. As for the former, well, fads come and go, and eventually whatever is of value in them remains.
  67. Nice commentaries Dave and Edward.
  68. HDR or not?

    You decide. Then click the info. link.
  69. I'm not going to click the link, but I'm guessing computer-generated. Either that or it's one of Thomas Demands paper constructions.
  70. "...and 3 sensors capturing 3 seperate exposures at the same instant in time. "

    You mean like color video cameras since about 1954?
  71. If I may provide a technical solution : - this HDR software should save you a bit of time :
    select your shots, drop them in the window, you're done. It does the aligning all by itself and has few but useful settings.
    I've already done several HDR shots with it, all handheld (burst mode). Works like a charm.
  72. It's comparing apples with pears, as the dutch expression goes. Cause they're different aspects of expression in their own right. Whatever one's personal taste is: be it b/w, artistic or realistic, hdr or whatever. This is an everchanging world I reckon ;), and yesterday's values are yesterday's. It's that fameous generation gap over and over again.
  73. I don't think I missed any of the commentary but I'm still at a loss as to the understanding of High Dynamic Range Imaging.
    Those still using film already know that properly exposed, it produces a significantly greater tonal range than is currently available in digital. Digital cameras and sensors capture far more than their electronics can successfully transfer to a computer. They were originally designed to handle a maximum 9 f/stop range, whereas the human eye and good lenses are capable of about 24. Nothing new about HDR. It was developed within the scientific community over 20 years ago and only recently adapted for general photography. If the new formats are accepted by the JPEG group we'll probably be seeing cameras within the next year or two that will significantly close the film/digital gap.
    If you're interested in something that could be applied to past files and color print scans using a single file you might want to check out this software developer.

    << >>


    << >>

    The first link is to the full HDR program which can handle both Multi Bracketed exposures or a single file.
    The second is for a PhotoShop compatible plug-in designed soley for single file processing.

    Both have unlimited trial periods with watermarks placed on Saved files. All updates are free to registered users, and if you've already tried a half dozen others, you're in for a surprising treat.....and NO, I have no affiliation with MediaChance. He simply writes great software.
  74. Personally I don't use HDR - I've tried it a couple of times and left considerably underwhelmed by it - more probably down to my lack of skills rather than a flaw with the idea but isn't HDR just another tool in the box?

    When putting a nail in a wall use a hammer, when putting a screw in the wall don't use the hammer ;) Every tool we have has good and bad uses. The trick for people is knowing which tool for which job... and how gently or hard to use the tool...

    Looking at alot of HDR images around (including my own pathetic example) they're all over done to the extreme.

    Also surely any HDR image is only going to be as good as the weakest shot in the stack?
  75. It's definitely easy to spend more time on the computer. If you're tired of it, just don't do HDR. Just stop doing it. Look for good light, instead. If the light sucks and you know it, don't bother. Come back later when there is less contrast.

    It's pretty easy to do HDR that looks natural. You only notice the ones that don't.

    You might also try different areas of photography which don't lend themselves to HDR. I used to like landscapes, and did lot's of HDR, but now I'm into portraits and people. I found that it's more satisfying to do nice people pictures, because the people appreciate what you did. The building or mountain doesn't really care if you took a nice picture of it. Just some thoughts.
  76. Very interesting thread on prehaps one of the most intriguing new aspect of digital photography.

    I think Edward nailed it on the head when he said:

    "You only notice HDR when it's done wrong." and "For others, HDR is a tool you use on location so you don't have to lug lights around, but the ultimate goal is to get normal looking images."

    There will always be people taking pictures of their old junker in the front yard, over HDRing them, and throwing them on flickr/myspace/deviantart and call it edgy art. A few years ago it was oddly composed, oddly focused images converted to high contrast black and white and thrown on F/MyS/DA and called edgy art.
  77. [[I'm not going to click the link, but I'm guessing computer-generated. Either that or it's one of Thomas Demands
    paper constructions.]]

    It's always good to see people choosing a finger-in-the-ears approach to discussions.
  78. For the record, each one of those images I linked to is a 5-image HDR.
  79. wow

    now, all I can hope is that this thread is properly archived ... best discussion I've seen on since I've been on it
  80. Steve,

    Exactly. Analog video technology uses three sensors per pixel. Foveon does that in digital, but they were never able to pack enough of them into a sensor to get high resolution, and the small receceptor size meant lots of noise. Nonetheless the Foveon chips do have an impressive color gamut.

    But yes, someday digital sensors WILL catch up with 1954 analog video and film technology.

    Alas, it is not there yet.
  81. Edward

    perhaps a direct copy of video technology is not required? Image processing technology has moved along since then. Have you seen (for example) stuff from the Fuji cameras? I was doing some testing of the images from it and found even on saturated reds in autumn leaves that the channels were not clipping.

    very promising

  82. It's great to see this discussion, and what people has to say with regards to HDR photography. It's quite good to see
    some example above as well with what's being discussed.
    There are some examples here on how HDR can help good photographs become better. But i have seen examples here
    as well that solely relies on HDR to actually produce stunning images, which are actually stunning due to the surreal
    colors, but aside from HDR they are actually pretty plain, some of them. Come on they're stark, for some of them, that's
    all they are, but what's the soul and the story? It's easy to get caught with the bandwagon.
    I guess in response to what Dave Hickey has posted, is that it is only him as a photographer who can tell for himself if
    he is happy with his art. If he's already been using HDR and yet not happy about it then there's something wrong. I mean
    to say, a good photographer knows how to distinguish a good photograph, HDR or not.
  83. dkm


    "Is HDR ruining photography?"

    No, but bad practitioners are ruining photographs.
  84. Chris,

    My wedding camera is a Fuji S5. I love it. That extra stop of latitude makes a big difference. The SuperCCD is a true step forward.

    Alas, no one is buying them. Apparently there will never be an S6.

    That's the heart of the problem. Everyone is talking megapixels and is convinced that digital has wide latitude. Fuji comes forward with a sensor that actually does have a wide (well, wider) latitude, but at the expense of megapixels. "What, just 6 megapixels? I don't want it!" is all I've ever heard. So no one wanted it. So Fuji stopped making it.

    So once again, as the Fuji has shown, digital DOES have the potential to pass film in all aspects. I can't wait for that day to happen. But as long as there is the kind of misinformation and poor understanding floating around that I have seen in this forum, that will never happen. And meantime film, still the better medium, is dying. Those of us who don't mind sweating to produce a good print are running out of options.

    I think the correct way to phrase things should be: Digital is Good. Now make it Bettter!

    PS: I'm waiting to get my hands on a D700. I think Nikon is making the right choice in backing away from the Megapixel madness. Now they have to unconvince all the customers they have convinced to buy into it.
  85. It's pretty easy to do HDR that looks natural. You only notice the ones that don't. And as others have said.

    Exactly, the greatest art doesn't draw attention to its "technique," but without the technique the work wouldn't be as powerful. It takes a while to accept that no photograph is reality but an interpretation of such. Great thread and thanks for the info/links.
  86. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Exactly, the greatest art doesn't draw attention to its "technique,"
    That's not true at all. How did Picasso's paintings not draw attention to technique? Dali's? DaVinci's technique has been the subject of numerous books. The list goes on and on.
    In the photography arena, Moriyama's work has always had pushed technique. Avedon's technique, especially with the "American West" series, is front and center. There is no way to avoid seeing it. Mario Giacomelli, probably the most famous Italian photographer, almost everything he does draws attention to technique. Palma, Rio Branca, Meatyard, all great photographers, all show their technique alongside strong vision.
  87. jbs


    I think HDR looks cool. I may try it. You can do this type of thing with a single image using Pshop as, I think, someone else pointed out. Great fun and interesting images. Ruining photography? No.
  88. Having just done a quick n dirty to test Photomatix I thought I'd add the following perceptions
    I personally can't wait for the sensors to actually have the range to capture this sort of range in one go, perhaps a true 32bit would be enough. After dealing with people and things moving slightly in images I can honestly say I prefer motion blur (which is even emulated in animation to provide a greater sense of reality). The fact that the Fuji camera (S3 and S5) have been less than successful (to me) says more about the market and photographers than it does about the technology. For example while I was taking this shot the woman in the candid picture didn't want to stick around (well, it would hardly be candid then ;-). Sure this is a issue when using HDRI but there's no reason why this should always be a limitation (for example if we had 32 bit sensors which perhaps were constructed along the lines of the Supper CCD).
    In adopting new technology it could be said that there are 5 major groups:
    • Innovators - impulsive, like what is new and fun, invest in time to learn, very technically literate, like to be the first to own and then move on to next;
    • Early adopters - like new things, study available information before investing, technically literate;
    • Early majority - like to be on-trend with new products, have good knowledge but want feedback from first adopters before investing;
    • Late majority - uninterested in novelty, utilitarian, dislike investing time in learning, believe innovations are hard to use, information only used if based on someone’s direct experience
    • Laggards - information form interpersonal communication only
    Perhaps if companies actually looked at the "early adopters" and the "innovations" for the driving edge I think we would be be better off, as personally I reckon that the masses buy what ever they're flogged. I've heard Canon (for example) talk about "the future" being this gimmik or that gimmik {such as advanced stuff like helicon focus}.
    Wouldn't it be nice if they provided "tools" which were simply simple to use (like 35mm cameras were when there was just Av, Tv, P and M; no portrait mode, or sport mode, or family fun mode...) and gave us the best basic material to work with?
    Perhaps I'm just seeing things my own way.
  89. I guess I'd like to back up my statement above with some example, here is two images one is an assembled HDRI from 3EV over normal and 3EV under. The middle image was not really high enough contrast to warrant HDRI, but it was an interesting and revealing experiment The photomatix image is the usual "scary" HDRI, while the curves applied version (from raw), at first the "normal" image would seem better (and given the wind conditions even in more careful evaluation)
  90. Now, when I look down in the lower left (where the wind wasn't blowing) I can get an amazing amount of detail and significant colour accuracy too
  91. And yes, those red specks are there (its a rose bush) and the colour is spot on.

    So, to me, this indicates that existing sensors have a real capture limitation when compared to negative film (which will capture this more with a single shot) but that the digital has much greater potential (especially with HDRI) to capture nice smooth ranges allowing much better tonality for burning and doging (no new discoverys there though)

    (Edward, this was just for the "unbelievers" out there ....)
  92. err ... that should be the lower right :)
  93. Ohh

    and I'm not really a pro digital or pro film user, each has its pros and cons. While I like HDRI (and appreciate its limitations) I often prefer to use negative film
  94. Its a useful tool. No one tool can ruin photography.
  95. Richard just nailed it.

    Next thing you know people are going to start saying that off camera lighting is ruining photography because it takes too long to setup. But isn't that just the same thing? For most of my shoots i'm using 3-4 lights with modifiers so that I can smash down the background and get things in a manageable range. In the end I hardly do any real editing aside from minor contrast/WB adjustments in lightroom or capture1.

    Off-camera lighting is basically "HDR" without the post processing.

    Give me a break. Anyone who criticizes a technique has their head up their ass. Criticize photos, not techniques. If you don't like the technique, then don't use it!
  96. On that note, I thought both Dave Hickey and Edward had some great points in this thread...
  97. Hi, Dave. Lots of opinions on HDR. With all due respect, Dave, you seem to be a little bit of a "tortured soul." If this is a hobby for you, isn't this supposed to be fun? Be honest, now, don't you think there are a lot of photos where you just know when you're taking them that HDR won't improve on them?

    Dave, I also think that 6000 photos on a vacation is a bit much. Does your wife ever get to see your face at any time during the vacation? ;-) I would be overwhelmed with the thought of post-processing 6000 photos. Perhaps, Dave, you need some balance. That said, I understand where you're coming from. Balance is what a lot of us (including myself) struggle with.

    Yes, there are some HDR photos in this thread that are quite good. I find that with a lot of HDR images, though, that the person doing the post processing seems to think that the scene looks better not with -details- in the shadows, but with -no- shadows. I think photos look weird without shadows. I agree with what someone above said, those 35 from that Web site look more like paintings. The only one of the 35 that I thought quite good was the 13th photo, of the inside of a cathedral.

    I've tried HDR using Photomatix. I haven't been satisfied with one HDR image yet. This could be due to my lack of technique. What I have been satisfied with is overlaying two exposures using Photomatix. I think that maybe HDR is overrated.
  98. Let's not forget that HDR has legitimate technical uses in disciplines such as astrophotography and scientific imaging - there simply is no other way. It's merely a technique like any other.
  99. This has been a silly post. Did Van Gogh ruin painting? Did Picasso? Is science fiction really literature? Ansel Adams certainly spent a lot of time in the woods working on expanding the dynamic range of his art.
    Art is good or bad. HDR is a technique, no different than flash or dodging and burning. Go take some photographs.
    Thanks for reading,
    A sometimes HDR photographer.
  100. I started only few days ago with photomatix and have the impression that the best you can get is with architecture and metallic objects like cars...or not?
  101. Hi Dave, i would call my self "addict no. 2". What a great tool, giving birth to stunning images AND horrible uglyness (if not right handled). I am used to take 3 images as well. it only annoyes me, that the sharpness usually is suffering and it takes a lot of efford to take care of the little pixel babies.
    HDR, in the right way, brings photography closer to the real see experience....which makes me exciting! It is time to overcome the big manipulation of the camera ( ;
    Cheers Madeleine
  102. HDR is the future of modern photography. It's changed my life forever for the better.
    I do both OTT and photorealism with it. I live in HDR. Yea it's a PITA sometimes, but the results can make people freak out and that is priceless. Just like Rap Music, like it or not HDR is here to stay.
  104. HDR isn't ruining anything! I remember when this argument was popular regarding Photoshop. I say if you, the artist/photographer are happy with your images then how is this "ruining" anything? Some people like HDR and some don't. So what. I happen to like/dislike certain art forms and artists...this doesn't have any bearing on their legitimacy.
  105. I have never seen an HDR that gives a better result than a well edited central EV RAW. In theory it should but noise from movement, multiple images and tiny misalignment of images seems to destroy any benefit. Can anyone please give an example of what they think is a great HDR ... including a link to the RAW. Ensure the RAW contains no badly blown out areas.

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