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Author Topic: HDR: Why all the controversy  (Read 10629 times)

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« on: October 18, 2010, 11:50 »
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Hi All,

 I just read a big article in PDN this month about " The Controversy over HDR'S " Maybe I am missing something here but what is the worry. It is a new tool that can and cannot be used depending on the persons interest. It was painted as being gaudy and useless by some as well in some other articles I read. This is a great tool and if you don't want your HDR'S to look surreal they don't have to. We use them a lot for interiors but we keep the image looking photo realistic because that is what I want.
 Michael james was quoted in the article and I think he makes wonderful very salable images, for his clients or stock.
 Trey Ratcliff makes images that push the limits of the software and I enjoy looking at his work as well and he has a strong following. You can just ask him or check how many hits he gets on his site. I just purchased his DVD series to see if I could pick up some nuggets of wisdom and sure enough I have. Can someone explain to me why it is any different than all the other changes in photography that have helped enable photographers to create what they desire over the history of the invention of the camera.   
 New bee's do have some pretty horrid stuff out there but so did everyone when Photoshop first hit the market. Now all these years later some still don't understand the use of PS but they are learning. Am I missing something here or do some people just have a tough time excepting new information and change. I made a post on an ASMP blog the other day to answer a17 year olds question. I explained he might try HDR to solve the problems he was sharing and I got hit with several statements about how it is ruining our art. I don't get it. What do you all think?

Best,
Jonathan


WarrenPrice

« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2010, 12:08 »
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I love playing with HDR and have followed Trey Ratliff closely for several years.  I have a few HDR images online but all are landscapes.  The HDR images sell like landscapes ... slowly, intermittently, disappointingly.  But, HDR has allowed me to produce images that would have otherwise been impossible to expose properly ... unless I waited for the "right" light.   :P

I think most people get in trouble by overuse of the "Tonemapping" process; not the HDR blending.  Tonemapping is where the "garish" look comes from.

vonkara

« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2010, 12:08 »
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If there is people ranting about a software that actually compensate the poor ability of digital cameras to reproduce the full spectrum of colors in a scene. Don't give them attention, they are dinosaurus.

It's true that there is people that use them at a too high level, but used wisely it make the image more accurate to the reality.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2010, 12:18 by Vonkara »

« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2010, 12:15 »
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As you said, HDR is just another technique that is available and can be used to whatever extent that pleases.  I personally don't care so much for the surrealist over use but find it does help in eliminating some of the deficiencies of Dynamic Range in Photography.

While working for an Architecture Photographer some years ago I was forced to replace the windows in PS with a differently exposed shot, . . .  not much fun at all and quiet time consuming.  

RT


« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2010, 12:20 »
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It's just another tool, if the person who created the image is happy with the end result then who are we to argue. 'Pure' photography died the day they introduced chemicals!

Slightly off topic but have a look at this guys portfolio, he uses what he decribes as the 'magic cloth', I'm sure you could probably get a similar result using HDR, personally for me it's the end result that matters and in this guys case I think the results are spectacular.

http://www.icelandaurora.com/

« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2010, 12:35 »
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I posted a few HDRs on Getty, some sell some don't. I like a lot these new tools. Many are a fads and tend, at least from a stock perspective, to fade quickly. But they keep life more interesting. Probably a member of the f/64 club still outraged about the selective focus fad. I've used HDR for some interior shots for clients that worked well.

« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2010, 13:51 »
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I have nothing against the technology, I just don't like most HDR images that I see, particularly when its used late at night when all you have is tungsten coloring through an image.

Combined with good photography technique it can produce some stunning results. 

« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2010, 14:23 »
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I don't think that HDR itself is hurting the industry. I think that 99% of the HDR images out there suck a big one and those photographers make the industry look lame. However, that has to do with bad photographers not bad technology.

« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2010, 14:27 »
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I love HDR photos because they are unique and interesting to look at. The few I have sell moderately well. For me hdr just adds the wow factor. They show you the world in a way that you can't see with your own eyes. If I saw advertisements using hdr images I'd be much more likely to stop and look at them. But I guess thats just me since you never actually see that.  

« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2010, 15:28 »
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The folks who adhere to the "get it right in camera" school of thinking won't like HDR as it's a post processing approach to producing a result. I don't buy that line in any situation - it's about the final image (to me) however it is you get there.

If you're looking at journalism, then there's an additional set of issues to consider, but otherwise, I think that the image should stand or fall on the visual merits of the end result.

« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2010, 15:38 »
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I think..hohoh that hdr is some kind of a modern art of the zonesystem in color...but we just dont manage it, or have the skills to do it...
Just imagine Ansel Adams...what would he have done whit the HDR...just a thought...

« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2010, 16:36 »
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Hi All,

 Well I am glad to see we are all in agreement. I do think the posts came from some of the old time bottom feeders that still lurk the murky waters. I would love to see what Ansel would have said. We used to do a dip and dunk process back in school with our 4x5 b/w's negs. It was invented by Ansel to compress the range even more, so I think he would embrace it. What he did with the negative technically is not that much different than what we do today with digital, we just have it much easier. No more smell of fixer under my finger nails ;D

Cheers,
Jonathan

« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2010, 16:45 »
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. No more smell of fixer under my finger nails ;D

Cheers,
Jonathan
But don't you miss it? I have all this darkroom gear, medium format, 4x5 enlargers, Color and condenser heads that I am realizing I have to get rid of and I can't bring myself to do it. Sigh.

« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2010, 17:48 »
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I bought photomatix pro a long time ago but only started using it recently.  Will be trying some during the winter.  I like anything experimental, I would love to get a medium format digital camera for pinhole photos, they work better with larger sized film so I think the same would apply for digital.  I have been trying timelapse this year and that has been great fun.  Some of the timelapse HDR clips I have seen look amazing, something else I will be trying when I get the time.

« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2010, 18:02 »
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I don't think that HDR itself is hurting the industry. I think that 99% of the HDR images out there suck a big one and those photographers make the industry look lame. However, that has to do with bad photographers not bad technology.

I also think this is the reaosn why HDR gets a bad name.  People overdo it.  You may create interesting artistic images (not "stockish" perhaps), you can compensate lighting issues in high contrast scenes with a near-natural look, but if you don't do it right, you create an odd image.  And most what I've seen in HDR is not well done. Possibly the same people who don't know how to capture images properly to begin with, or maybe a matter of personal taste ("art" is very personal).

In my recent trip I took many 3-exposure shots to merge in HDR, and I played with a couple of series with very satisfying results. This is a new technique for me in fact, so I'm still learning, and my goal is to achieve natural images, not bizarre ones.

« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2010, 18:18 »
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Why does it matter what anyone else says?  If you are using a tool to a successful (your definition) end, other people's opinion of the tool don't matter.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2010, 18:46 »
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Here's a guy whose work I have admired for some time.  His posts on Flickr are almost exclusively HDR; 5 exposure images processed in Photomatix.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpn/5093458138/#sizes/o/in/contacts/

I'm not sure if James Neely sells stock but he does host a lot of landscape classes.


« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2010, 18:53 »
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Agree with Locke

Why does it matter what anyone else says?  If you are using a tool to a successful (your definition) end, other people's opinion of the tool don't matter.

RacePhoto

« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2010, 19:24 »
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I don't think that HDR itself is hurting the industry. I think that 99% of the HDR images out there suck a big one and those photographers make the industry look lame. However, that has to do with bad photographers not bad technology.

I agree in that it's just a tool and a fad which isn't new as Jon called it. (Photoshop CS2 introduced the Merge to HDR function in 2005) Many do suck the big one. In fact it may have run it's course as a novelty effect just like the flood filter did, and now it's a useful tool for limited applications. Anything overused will eventually become a caricature of itself. :D

Yes, used properly it can solve the latitude of digital being slightly less than film. Nothing wrong with HDR, it's just that some people get all hung up on a trick and can't see past it. Digital, we can do tone mapping and make some interesting striking contrasting colorful effects. OK now I'll go back to taking "normal" looking pictures. ;)

Here's an interesting side note, and I'll drop it after that.

The idea of using several exposures to fix a too-extreme range of luminance was pioneered as early as the 1850s by Gustave Le Gray to render seascapes showing both the sky and the sea. Le Gray used one negative for the sky, and another one with a longer exposure for the sea, and combined the two in a single picture in positive.

It's not new.

« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2010, 20:28 »
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 Hi All,

 Yea, I have used it a lot recently for work and love it from surreal to photo realistic. I spend a lot less time shooting an interior as apposed to having to light every nook and cranny and spend more time on the backend in my office which is cheaper and easier than spending days at a location. We just shot a new High end Condo building with 84 floors and we shot 25 shots a day of interiors, got to love that. We started dropping in a model for an exposure and lighting them then just stripping the model into the shot in post.
  Photomatix is my choice but the one good thing in the article in PDN was they mentioned some other softwares on the market that are starting to challenge Photomatix. One photographer in the article (I think it was Michael James ) said he uses different softwares for different images or different effects and does not rely on just one HDR software.
 Take a look at all the layering and masking Trey Ratcliff does and the HDR is just a small portion of his workflow. I say bring on any new app. or software and let the user decide if they like it or not. Maybe this is a good sign in PDN. There has been so much controversy over the past couple of years with Micro and Macro that this might be a sign of digging for controversy because things are starting to settle in a bit, or people are just tired of hearing about us ;)

Best,
Jonathan

« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2010, 22:05 »
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I will be using HDR more in the future. I've found that it can help resurrect some images that I had written off for one reason or another. Plus lots of play value...and sometimes it makes a winner. The best thing is that you can use it without detection in many cases.

I also agree that it is somewhat of a fad -- like some of the overused filters we can all recognize in like one second. I put HDR in the same category as pinhole, panoramic, infrared, Holga and similar techniques. At least when not used with finesse. The only time any of those fad things work is if it would have been a good photograph to start with.

« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2010, 22:38 »
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Hi Louoates,

 I couldn't agree more. If it isn't a good concept or photo to begin with there is no filter that will save it, well said sir.

Best,
Jonathan

« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2010, 23:07 »
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Ansel would have been on the cutting edge of everything Photoshop...plus HDR and whatever is coming next.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2010, 07:57 »
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It's just another tool, if the person who created the image is happy with the end result then who are we to argue. 'Pure' photography died the day they introduced chemicals!

Completely agree.

It's just a tool and it's up to the photographers to use it in a way or another, to obtain subtle effects or bold uninspiring exaggerated results.

Which are selling by the way... so who cares, this is microstock and I am doing it even when I am not happy with the end result if buyers are. To quote a British post-punk group, We're all prostitutes.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 08:01 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

grp_photo

« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2010, 08:02 »
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It's an overused tool that is all, with the right concept behind the results can be stunning but most pictures I saw rely solely on the HDR-Effect and have nothing else to offer. And the new iPhone offers HDR too ;-).


 

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