OverHDR-ed portraits. Are they digestible to you?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by podstawek, May 28, 2009.

  1. Is it only me who finds portraits like these:
    http://esharkdesign.com/index.php/archive/10-stunning-hdr-portraits/
    very unaesthetic, and disturbing? And by "disturbing" I do not mean artistic and mind-provoking disturbance, but sheer ugliness.
    It seems so popular now, that pseudo HDR effect in portraits. Alas, there are entire galleries here at PN that are based on this single glitzy effect. I posted a link from outside, only because I did not want to attack anyone personally, but some people seem to have completely fallen for it. But the effect makes pictures so difficult to look at...
    ...or is it only me?
     
  2. Gaaaah! My eyes!

    The only time I find that technique interesting is when its used for hipper-than-thou editorial purposes, or in some "edgy" ad, etc. But most of the examples in the set you linked to are terrible examples of this generally ugly style. The really bad choices of physics-defying layering on the faces, the glaring halos, the transition from muddy hues to garrish ones across surfaces where nothing else about the subject in that spot would normally change the hue or tone of the refected light... ugly. And not pleasingly executed even if you DO go in for that sort of thing. This sort of HDR manipulation is the set of add-on spinning chrome-finish plastic hubcaps on the 1992 Toyota Corolla of portait art.
     
  3. Woops, a dupe. But I agree with the above. Normally I'd never even comment. But you linked to it, and I stepped in it!

    Mind you, plenty of people have told me that my own photographs are the mediocre milquetoastesque mutterings of a middle aged man mawkishly mucking about in such mild-mannered stuff that I wouldn't know real art from merengue (the salsa kind, or the lemon kind).
     
  4. I don't clutter my life worrying about how other people approach their own photography. Why should I? If someone likes those images and enjoys making them, then more power to them.
     
  5. I do not mean artistic and mind-provoking disturbance, but sheer ugliness.​
    I agree with you. But hey, it's digital, and digital has the numbers on its side (sigh).
     
  6. Digital's got nothing to do with bad taste, Vincent. It's just easier to create these disasters that way than it is in the darkroom. But the choice of medium doesn't cause a person to be, aesthetically, the sort that thinks wearing a paisley tie with a striped shirt and a plaid suit is going to get him all the women.
     
  7. " Are they digestible to you? "

    The problem I have swallowing that style is that the images are already predigested, I like to chew my food.


    Beyond the ugliness, it is the sameness that numbs my mind.
     
  8. Rob, I'm not that worried about what people like. I posted it, because the effect is very, very popular. So popular that at certain point I actually started to worry about my own perception of things.
    Matt, I do not regard your pictures mediocre mutterings. On the contrary -- excellent expressions. But that's not the point. What I meant is the surprisingly high popularity of portraits HDR-ed to the extreme, and some itching I had to express it publicly. Which I did.
     
  9. You don't even have to use Photoshop to be a great photographer. Check out the new Pentax that will put all of your photos in the Top-Rated-Photos column at Photo.net.
    http://www.adorama.com/alc/blogarticle/11608?utm_source=ET&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=EmailTT052809&j=8127993&e=markachartrand@gmail.com&l=928833_HTML&u=78520458&mid=80238&jb=0
     
  10. I know this is gonna be painful.....but I kinda liked a couple of em....The boy with the Chess set is kinda Harry Potterish sorta...OK let beatings commence.....
     
  11. "Over" anything is by definition not good.
    Again,
    To a small child with a hammer, the entire world looks like a nail.
    New tools are always overused and pushed too far when people first discover them...
     
  12. I think I read somewhere "that it to shall pass"! The sooner the better in my opinion.
     
  13. It used to be in vogue to make drawings of people that way... (Phillip Pearlstein comes to mind) and then paintings... it doesn't surprise me that the trend would eventually show up in photography, simply because it can be done.
    And to carry JDM's comment one step further... to an engineer with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
    I wouldn't fret about it. If you don't like it, don't look at it. I have not suffered as a result of missing all the Freddy Kruger movies... just wasn't interested. The comparison is close enough.
     
  14. I have experimented with demos of some this overdone style. I have made some prints and I threw them all out except one when someone liked the one below. I don't but there is a lot of it being done. It's like science fiction; some people like it. I don't.
     
  15. It sure is not my cup of tea...however I can see that it would appeal to those that like illustrative type images. Something that is drawn or painted with surreal color and light. These images are not for and not meant to be for people who like photographic images in a more traditional sense, but rather for those that like the art work in a comic books or a CGI animated movies.
    To each his/her own.
    Jason
     
  16. Dick, I have also experimented with HDR a lot. And I actually still use it occasionally – and subtly – in pictures of buildings. Some of them need it, in my opinion. A well-HDR-ed brick looks more like a brick.
    Where it bothers me most is the pictures of people; here, the distaste is very strong up to the point of repulsion.
    But Thomas and others, the "if you don't like it, don't look at it" attitude is just one. Some people when they see something disgusting just turn away, some express their disgust. I'd be the latter, maybe because I'm over talkative at times.
     
  17. It's the 'Clowns on Velvet' of the digital age!
     
  18. The disappointing aspect of so many photographic tricks like these (and I include analog tricks like "solarization" as well, film users aren't immune no matter what Vincent thinks) is that they are just way too overused. Everything has to be to 200% MORE than the other guy. Which is too bad because stuff like this can be really interesting and creative if done with an ounce of restraint.
    But then again, people like what they like. If other photographers enjoy making these images, who am I to tell them that they shouldn't? If other people enjoy looking at them, who am I to tell them to stop? More power to them all. Photography is a big tent.
    I just have little interest in it for my own images.
     
  19. Adam I have nothing against HDR. I have experimented with it and it can really help in increasing dynamic range but the exaggerated stuff cited by the OP gets really boring fast. I think I must have deleted the picture I was going to post because I can't find it. It is in my PN gallery. You can't miss it; it's a distortion of a very good picture of the Nubble light house that I did and blew up to 18x24.
     
  20. [[Rob, I'm not that worried about what people like. I posted it, because the effect is very, very popular.]]
    What percentage of all photographs taken in the world over the past 365 days have been used to create HDR portraits like this?
    I think a better sense of perspective is in order.
     
  21. The funny thing about these photos is that they're not HDR at all.
     
  22. Peter you right. They look like have been overdone with Lucis or somtething similar.
     
  23. Josh, I'm not telling anyone what they should or shouldn't. Still, I believe that if I don't like something, I should speak it out instead of turning away and pretending it's not there.
    Dick, I know which picture you mean. You are right, I don't like it :). But I like your other lighthouses, taken without HDR.
    Peter, I know. It's called pseudo-HDR, isn't it? Or something similar. Anyway, if models were able to stand unmoved for several shots, overdone HDR would give similar results.
     
  24. Rob, I have not done any statistics, but the effect seems popular. However, you may be right here; I'm judging mostly by the pictures posted to "Photo Critique" forum, I may have lost some perspective.
     
  25. I happen to have this month's "Shutterbug" magazine in hand. There's a multi-page spread featuring work by Chris Alvanas - showing exactly this sort of stuff, and rather gushing over it. He's on the cover, too. Some of it looks more like gen-u-ine HDR, some more like examples above.
     
  26. Josh, I'm not telling anyone what they should or shouldn't. Still, I believe that if I don't like something, I should speak it out instead of turning away and pretending it's not there.​
    Adam, I wasn't calling you out personally. Just making a point about my own personal opinion regarding this sort of thing.
     
  27. My reaction: YUCK!
    All the power to him, it's his vision and he should be able to do what he wants, yadi yadi yada....but, to my eyes, yuck!
     
  28. OverHDR portraits.
    So do we have a link to some that are done just right?
     
  29. I don't clutter my life worrying about how other people approach their own photography. Why should I?
    Ironic. You worry so much about people asking questions that are not necessarily directed at you about topics you are not interested in that you spend time cluttering your life writing to tell them that you don't like to clutter your life by responding to such questions.
    I suppose I worry about irony.
    Anyway, Its fun to try different techniques and all and I have my share of highly post produced imagery as a result. My opinion of HDR in portraits is that it usually seems too over the top and works well in limited situations. The kid and the chess set works best out of those example to me. Perhaps because it is more than just portrait and has other aspects to it.
     
  30. Now, it's fine to say that you don't like the way the effect looks. But it's misleading to speak of it as "right" or "wrong." It is what it is, which is a personal aesthetic choice as to how the photographer wants to portray the subject. It doesn't have to appeal to everyone.
    That said, it is correct to apply the notion of "right" and "wrong" when these images are being referred to as "HDR." That is clearly a misnomer. The problem here is not that these photographers are making these particular aesthetic choices--it is that they are doing so and applying the "HDR" moniker as sort of a gimmick, to make that choice appear 'sexier' or more interesting than it actually is.
     
  31. Don't look now, Rob, but in-camera HDR is a reality. Expect lots more like this. Photorealistic photographs, the wave of the future. Who knew?
    To do it with film:
    a. Take a straight photo of the subject
    b. Make a painting (in the Photorealist style) of the photograph.
    c. Take a straight photo of the painting.
     
  32. I saw a photo, I can't remember where, that someone had made of a tree root using HDR. It didn't look like those example photos in the OP link. It looked more like a tree root might appear to the naked eye. I thought that was an interesting idea. I preferred those.
     
  33. I find myself in the minority on this one (where to be frank I often find myself ); I actually quite like most of the images you linked to Adam.
     
  34. There are plenty of much better examples of this approach on Flickr. Use the "lucisarts" tag. It works well for grotesquely humorous portraits, but is being overdone. It was hip for a few minutes. Now it's a cliche.
     
  35. I did like the one of boy playing chest. It could stand to be pulled back alittle, but I like it fairly well. I also like the richness of the color in the one with the guy that has one eye closed. But just a bit over the top for my taste. Then the one with the guy showing his pit hair...well that is just never good, yuck!
    Jason
     
  36. But most of the examples in the set you linked to are terrible examples of this generally ugly style.
    How refreshing to hear someone call it like it is....Ugly...with a capital U.
    If I ever post something like this...please contact me and get my address so you'll know where to come to shoot me in the head.
     
  37. Not to worry, even if "it" (whether it's this "look" or Nehru jackets) takes, there will still be someplace like Photo.net 10-20 years from now when we'll all look back and laugh. They don't do much for me but it's not really all that important.
     
  38. it's misleading to speak of it as "right" or "wrong." It is what it is, which is a personal aesthetic choice as to how the photographer wants to portray the subject.

    it is correct to apply the notion of "right" and "wrong" when these images are being referred to as "HDR." That is clearly a misnomer. The problem here is not that these photographers are making these particular aesthetic choices--it is that they are doing so and applying the "HDR" moniker as sort of a gimmick, to make that choice appear 'sexier'

    Peter, the first paragraph in your post tells us its not appropriate to say the HDR technique is "right or wrong" because the photographer wants to use the process to make an image appear a certain way which is an 'aesthetic choice'. The second paragraph tells us it IS appropriate to say the HDR technique is "right or wrong" because the photographer wants to use the process to make an image appear in a certain way which is also, obviously, an 'aesthetic choice'.
    So which paragraph is right and which is wrong? I choose the first.
     
  39. The first being right that is.
     
  40. dkm

    dkm

    God those are awful.
    That said, I've watched people struggle mightily to achieve the technique (or more often, find the plug in). Sigh.
     
  41. John--
    The two paragraphs I wrote are not contradictory. The first discusses the appropriateness of using the terms "right" and "wrong" as it applies to the photographer's choice of expression. The second discusses the appropriateness of using these terms as it applies to the photographer's choice of nomenclature to describe what he or she is doing.
    For instance, it is factually incorrect to state that a given photo was taken at f/2.8 when in it was actually taken at f/8. It is equally factually incorrect to apply a particular terminology to one's own photography when it is not the case. That does not mean one cannot USE a particular methodology--whatever it may be--to achieve your desired effect. All it means is you shouldn't call it something it is not.
    Honestly, I don't have much of an opinion about the linked images. I am more concerned with the casual--and in my view, inappropriate--use of the "HDR" acronym to describe the process by which such images were made. The reason why this matters is that if you start using terms to describe your work that are not really applicable, then not only do you end up looking like an idiot, you also end up diluting and disrespecting the work of those who do in fact correctly use such terms to describe their own images, even if the product of your process is aesthetically pleasing or interesting in its own right. Maybe I should've stuck to my very first post and left it at that:
    The funny thing about these photos is that they're not HDR at all.​
     
  42. *swallowed a bit of my throw up*
    not fan of these, not a fan at all... the kid with the chess set and the girl on the tree are the only ones that could stay in my stomach.
    That being said, I'm going to try it out on my own!
     
  43. I am interested in exposure blending and/or HDR and in fact have tried to "mightily find the plug in". Didn't have to struggle as it is not that hard to find one, actually.
    But, I cannot digest these linked images nor do I intend to "create" those images. I just want to learn available techniques or technologies to broaden my knowledge in this hobby. In the end, like many others argue here, it is the photog's/users' discretion whether or to what extent to use such technologies or softwares, let alone to show it to the public.
    Personally, I think these softwares are interesting "tools" to play with and want to give it a try. Sure, I may get tired of it quick, though. I have to try to learn and to decide.
    Ken
     
  44. Before dismissing the technique completely, do a search for better examples of the technique. Those on that blog were among the worst I've seen, mostly hamfisted rookie attempts and used in photos that didn't lend themselves well to the technique.
    A lot of folks using the Lucis technique seem to be trying to recreate a Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade world. I guess that's fine, if it makes 'em happy. The only time I get bugged is when they submit this stuff for ratings and critiques as "street photography".
    As a fan of all graphic arts I like what *can* be done with the effect, in skilled hands. But most of what I've seen online look like the equivalent to paint-by-numbers efforts from someone with a whole week's experience.
     
  45. [[Don't look now, Rob, but in-camera HDR is a reality. Expect lots more like this]]
    Don,
    So you have direct experience with the K7 and have evaluated the output of the image files?
     
  46. Them are "stunning portraits" alrighty....I'm stunned anyone would think they looked good...
     
  47. I'm not sure what "in-camera HDR" is supposed to mean.
    HDR = High Dynamic Range. As such, it is a relative term. "High" implies a comparison to another standard; for instance, it refers to the notion that the dynamic range of the captured or composite image is greater than what is normally obtainable by a device through a single exposure. If new technology enables a camera to capture greater dynamic range than previous cameras, then that's not HDR, it just means that camera has greater DR.
    The fundamental concept behind HDR is that you use some kind of compositing technique to capture a larger dynamic range than what is obtainable in a single shot. You adjust the sensitivity to incoming light in some fashion over multiple exposures to capture overlapping but distinct subsets of dynamic range, and then remap the tones in a way that is perceptually consistent with the human visual system. This often requires a high bit depth in the digital image to preserve the expanded DR. The display of such an image may then involve the compression of the tonal range in order to properly represent the relative luminosities in the image. So the concept of "in-camera HDR" to me could only really mean that the camera does automatic exposure bracketing (more or less already present in current devices), and then composits the images in real-time with minimal or no user interaction (this has yet to be implemented but already programs like enfuse can do it on a computer). But even with all this algorithmic processing one still hasn't quite addressed the representation and display of such an image, which is a part of the HDR process.
    HDR is a tricky technique because it attempts to statically represent what the human visual system does dynamically. That is to say, the captured image is unchanging, but our eyes and brain are biophysical systems that have evolved various "tricks" that enable us to perceive our surroundings with an unparalleled flexibility. You step out into the sun and instantly your eyes stop down, your retinas register the incoming light differently, and your brain adjusts the exposure. You step into a dark room and your irises accomodate by opening wide. Your brain does all kinds of strange and wonderful things that modern science still does not fully comprehend, when you interpret those signals coming from your eyes. This is a large part of why we can see a much larger DR than a camera can capture. To try to simulate that biological process in a single unchanging image is a tall order.
     
  48. "So you have direct experience with the K7 and have evaluated the output of the image files?"
    Nope. Not every followup to yours is a challenge to make your day.
     
  49. "I'm not sure what "in-camera HDR" is supposed to mean."
    The Pentax K7 is has three-shot in-camera HDR capture. It is probable, I think, that it will become a common feature.
     
  50. Sadly this sort of thing is very popular with some misguided and self-congratulatory club competition freaks in the UK - not many, but enough to potentially ruin your evening. Often the photos involve cigar-smoking Cuban women set against a backdrop of ancient Detroit rust-buckets and urban deprivation, or ageing Himalayan tribesmen with far too few teeth ..... It's a cliched technique that makes me want to reach for the brown paper bag.
     
  51. [[Nope. Not every followup to yours is a challenge to make your day.]]
    If you choose to try and validate your argument with hyperbole don't be shocked when someone calls you on it.
     
  52. That is more clear Peter, Thanks.
     
  53. Those "photos" are ghastly awful! The newest fad I suppose. Bleak indeed.
     
  54. I've recently view some video's by some pro photo shop experts. A lot of them were pointed at creating "THE LOOK" which is creating a photo that is like photos seen in cheep old rag magazines before lithography was perfected. This entails using high pass filters, grain filters, adding noise, and even cloud filters to simulate a dirty lens. Also, what seems to be part of "THE LOOK" is chopping off the top of peoples' heads in portraits. Most of these photos demonstrate that. The only thing that seems to be missing from photoshop is the dirty finger print overlay to simulate somebody handling film before it's dry.
     
  55. Many of you commenting on this issue are coming across as very elitist, this technique is just another form of photographic expression. If you don't care for it, don't utilize it, don' t view it. You need to get over yourselves.
     
  56. George: there's nothing elitist about it. Similar images using these techniques are shown on the covers of internationally read photography magazines. They are presented ed by the actual "elite" as examples of skill and aesthetic wonderfulness. We're not talking about something that some 12 year old spent all weekend working on, out of a sense of fashion - we're talking about poorly handled images being presented as "stunning" works of art. When someone else trots out that sort of hyperbole, it's not only OK to call it what it is, it's something of an obligation. Your advice to "not view it" is good, except it's hard not to when someone drops a blind link with the word "stunning" attached to it.

    I stand by my very non-elitist negative reaction to the examples shown.
     
  57. Photography is art. Not all artists have the same taste. PN is a great place where artists with different tastes meet.
     
  58. it

    it

    Those are just brutal examples of some sort of Dragan effect gone even more wrong than usual.
    Someone's failed experiment, why even worry about them?
     
  59. Mebbe it's the next wave in Fauvism, who knows? Or Fauxteauism.
     
  60. "If you choose to try and validate your argument with hyperbole don't be shocked when someone calls you on it."
    I wrote that in-camera hdr will become a common feature. And you task me about whether I've benchtested a K7. Besides the k7 has in-camera hdr, what is the connection? What argument? What validation? What shock? And what did you "call" me on?
    TIA
     
  61. I think they're ghastly. Artistic expression, not photographic expression, and not to my taste
     
  62. DonE. wrote
    Don't look now, Rob, but in-camera HDR is a reality. Expect lots more like this. Photorealistic photographs, the wave of the future. Who knew?​
    But these aren't photorealistic, not even remotely, and I seriously doubt in-camera HDR will ever look like this.
     
  63. What's going on in the one with the Vin Diesel-looking guy and the tripod? I can't even figure out what I'm looking at there.
    All of these pictures are really lacking in subtlety, and to be honest I just don't think that HDR works very well for human portraits- more often then not, skin tones just end up looking ugly and 'goo-ey'.
    I really like HDR when it's used on buildings/urban settings, though:
    http://www.sghi.info/GL/img/HDR_01/School.HDR.II_by_NieckQ__CCbyncnd20.jpg
     
  64. Brett, the term photographers are using for this kind of work is hyper real or super hyper real. In painting super and hyper real developed from photorealism.
    The irony (or hyperbole, some prefer) is in the full circle from painting photographs to making photographs that look like paintings of photographs -- which is different from the complaint about "over processing" photos to look like paintings. Well, at least I find it amusing. Are we seeing a divergence in how HDR is used? There's the conservative approach: images more like the eye sees, and then there is this...creative...approach.
    I find it comic. Others are offended it seems. One ought not to take photography too seriously, at least on weekends.
     
  65. Yeah, I guess, hyper something at least. I think it's interesting and fine as an artisitc excercise. I would hope it doesn't become the norm somehow. You don't think manufacturers would ever implement an in camera system that produced results anything like this do you? Maybe as an option to another implementation where the goal was simply to extend the dynamic range to overcome the narrow exposure latitude of the camera. To me, HDR is great in that sense. If we could somehow get 4 or 5 stops at the moment of capture and have it look natural and realistic, that would be incredible.
     
  66. I picked up the new shutterbug yesterday. They profiled at guy that does this type thing with portraits and scenics. I just do not like viewing it but I can see people liking it because it is a very artificial and strange effect...Maybe people feel that regular photography is just to mundane and want more "Wow" to a picture. HDR is kind of a love it or hate it type thing I suppose.
     
  67. No accounting for taste. I find these example undigestible too, Adam.
    I recall a crazy madcap and hilarious comedy film ( around 1980 ) called "The In Laws. "Alan Arkin is a dentist led on a merry chase by CIA agent Peter Falk -at his nutty deadpan best- to a Central American banana republic. General Garcia, the goofy military dictator, displays his collection of beautifully framed wall paintings in his mansion. Portraits of nudes painted on velvet (!), like the kind that were sold in Tijuana and were once popular tourist junk.
    I don't know if "kitsch" is the right word,or what word to call the examples. Homely.
     
  68. Check out the July/August 2008 issue of Digital PhotoPro.

    I was really surprised to see the HDR Portrait section, especially when I realized I had seen a bunch of these photos (by George Fulton) used in advertising but never really realized it. I just thought that the photos were actually cartoon/paintings!

    To me, the HDRed portraits look like artistic reproductions....and a very cartoony when they are tone mapped. It really isn't my cup of tea, but I think in certain situations they work very well. I must definitely say that I do in fact like George Fulton's photos, especially for advertising...it just works.
    Here is a link to the article (web version of course)
    http://www.digitalphotopro.com/profiles/george-fulton-no-time-for-haters.html
    And a link to George Fulton's website:
    http://www.georgefulton.com/
    It seems like a lot of people dislike this style, but I'm of the opinion that if done well and in the right setting, it can be artisitcally appealing.
     
  69. So do we have a link to some that are done just right?​
    Purpose of my link to George Fulton's work. just thought I'd mention that I think his is "done right".
     
  70. Fulton's samples are graphically interesting, Keith. A heightened sense of reality fits a few subjects. The one of the ladies in the kitchen and the anteater by the refrigerator is kind of fun in a four dimensional world sort of way. I notice that there are some conventions like perspective observed, but no other spatial clues in landscapes. Such as a haze in the distance or blurring of backgrounds. It is not unpleasant. And draws my attention in a billboard sort of way... I could enjoy these as eye candy (in a non negative at all sense of the word.) Thanks for these interesting linked examples.
    One must keep an open mind, -visual cortex wise,- for sure, Keith. Yeah, to 'let the bats fly out' once in a while if nothing else:)
    aloha, gerry
     
  71. Well, it's just more graphical illustration type work like you see all over the 'net now.
     
  72. I don't think the HDR process needs to be used to such an extreme.

    I tried a PS tutorial after reading this post and found it improved my image. The tut I used was a simplified version that didn't require bracketing. I basically created several duped layers then adjusted levels for specific "zones" in each layer. Blending modes and opacity allowed my to get teh best exposure for each area. It looked only slightly altered to my untrained eye. Certainly not the surreal look these examples have.

    Maybe if I was a better photographer the HDR wouldn't be an improvement, but right now I think it is- especially for a quick first try. I think everything but the blown out clowds in the HDR looks better in my example.

    HDR version: http://s562.photobucket.com/albums/...ure/?action=view&current=lookingupHDRcopy.jpg

    Original with normal PP: http://s562.photobucket.com/albums/ss69/jsqueri/architecture/?action=view&current=DSC_2400.jpg
     
  73. To each their own... Somebody also had to create all the "Elvis on Velvet" hangings but it might be a stretch to include them in a book of tapestries.
     
  74. Nothing exceeds like excess.
     
  75. Those photos are obscene. Honestly grotesque.
     

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