The HDR debate

Photographers can often get quite polarized when it comes to the merits of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. For those of you who don’t know what that is, imagine this scene. You want to take a picture but the problem is that some parts of the picture are in bright light, other parts are in shadow. If you take a normal picture, the camera can’t cope and the result will be a picture you loose detail in both the high-lights and low-lights. With HDR photography you take at least 3 pictures of the same scene, and hopefully on a tripod 😉 The first picture you expose for the hight-lights, the 2nd is just normal exposure and the 3rd is exposed for the shadow areas. Then in the computer you bring these images together and voila, you have an image where nothing is either over-exposed or under-exposed. So where does the debate come into all this? Well some says it is cheating, it isn’t a natural picture, others complain, and quite rightly, that it can look very artificial. And it can, if you don’t know what you are doing. My view is, there are no rules when it comes to photography. Since its invention, manipulation has taken place in the Darkroom, through to today and digital manipulation on the computer. I try to keep HDR images looking as natural as possible. For instance, my picture below of the Vittorio Emmanuele Gallery in Milan. If I had taken a normal picture, the detail of the building on the left would have been in dark shadow and you wouldn’t be able to see any of the details. So here HDR is really useful. At the same time I have tried to keep the image looking as             ‘un-manipulated’ as possible. I think the result pays off. What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “The HDR debate

  1. I think you’ve succeeded quite well with this shot. I’m not a fan of the more severe-looking forms of HDR, but the world takes all kinds of people and fortunately we all have different tastes. I like how you’ve used it; to make a shot more visible, but not unnaturally so. The photos that look artificial just don’t work for me, but I guess some folks must like them. I’d rather spend my time behind the camera than in front of the computer…..

    • Hi Vicky. Thanks for the comment. I try to limit my use of HDR but in really high contrast scenes such as this there is no other way of being able to create an effective picture. Like you I prefer to be behind the camera instead of in front of the PC, but it is the modern darkroom so to speak, so there isn’t a lot of choice sometimes.. Just had a look at your blog. Really like your Libri 🙂

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