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I don't like HDR...but

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ade_mcfade e2 Member 1014838 forum postsade_mcfade vcard England216 Constructive Critique Points
11 Mar 2008 - 9:43 PM

This is something I hear quite a lot of on my shots these days, it's quite nice to hear that "but" on the end of it as it usually means they've liked a shot Smile

But I do get the feeling that people have got some preconcieved ideas about HDR which may be turning them off a very useful technology. It's a shame really, but very understandable as to why they reach that viewpoint.

For example, I wasn't a photoshop user in the 90's, but I bet people said the same things about the early encarnations of sharpening, or many people used the filters to ill effect, getting horrible results. That's what's happening with HDR at the moment, cartoon like shots, or ridiculously processed skys have become the raison d'etre of many photomatix users.

The main problem is that HDR is new(ish) in photography, the tools are pretty rudimentary and there really are no prescribed techniques for achieving the desired result - as you'd find in your typical photoshop text book for making mono shots, for example. People are still finding their way around the sliders in Photomatix, and with them not being that intuitive, you can end up with some awful effects.

I've got hundreds of awful, aborted early attempts, some of which made it on here Smile

I guess my point here is to say that HDR is a useful tool when you've worked out how to use it, and more importantly, WHEN to use it.

Rather like a chainsaw, by all means use it for hedge laying, felling trees and chopping firewood, but leave it in the shed when eating your tea or performing brain surgery.

If you're doing interiors, architecture and even landscapes with things reaching into the sky (lighthouses etc.) HDR can be a life saver. No more ND grad filter blackness on chimneys for starters - how good is that?

True - it's not there yet in terms of tools, I'm waiting for a HDR package where you can tweak sharpness, curves, levels etc. at Tone Mapping time. How useful would that be?

So when you say "I don't like HDR", it's not really "HDR, the technology" you don't like, but the results novice HDR users produce that you don't like.

Discuss Smile

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11 Mar 2008 - 9:43 PM

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11 Mar 2008 - 9:57 PM

The best HDR images are done subtly, mostly night shots where everything looks right. It's a lot like photoshop really if you can't tell it's been used you've done it right.

It's to easy to over do it and cause an extreme effect, and unfortunately the 3 Suns style is en vogue because it's easy to do.

11 Mar 2008 - 10:01 PM

HDR is one of those things that works well in extremes. You either have to be subtle or go completely over the top so the image looks like a painting.

11 Mar 2008 - 10:02 PM

Quote: So when you say "I don't like HDR", it's not really "HDR, the technology" you don't like, but the results novice HDR users produce that you don't like.

Bang on. There are some appalling images out there which clearly are Photomatix (et al) derived where the person has not a clue as to what they're about in terms of utilising the HDR technology to the betterment of an image. Granted - what they end up with is an 'art-form' - but it's not something that appeals to me in any way, shape or form.

Used effectively, HDR is a god-send to a difficult lighting situation and, when used effectively - and 'unannounced' - the viewer wouldn't (shouldn't?) even notice that the image has been HDR processed.

(I gotta type faster!!! Smile)

Last Modified By User_Removed at 11 Mar 2008 - 10:04 PM
Lawrence  11195 forum posts United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
11 Mar 2008 - 10:03 PM

I appreciate HDR.I think it is a useful tool but have not managed to produce anything I like yet.
I have even tried to produce the cartoon like shots but it just not works for me. Mightymash what is3 suns style?

11 Mar 2008 - 10:12 PM

Quote: Mightymash what is 3 suns style?

Where the image is completely lacking any real contrast at all. Here is a good example:

3 suns is just my way of describing it.

Last Modified By mightymash at 11 Mar 2008 - 10:16 PM
ian walker
ian walker  10716 forum posts United Kingdom
11 Mar 2008 - 10:23 PM

HDR is a victim of the users........

The three suns analogy is bang on, it is acceptable to have shadows in a picture - i think they can add to the composition.

in time we will learn not to push the sliders to 100% just because we can.

Lawrence  11195 forum posts United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
11 Mar 2008 - 10:23 PM

Thanks Mightymash.I see by 3 suns you mean you cant realy see where the sun is.Unreal?

uggyy  82104 forum posts Scotland9 Constructive Critique Points
11 Mar 2008 - 10:26 PM


As Ade says, HDR gets a bad wrap and has it spot on for the tools on the market today.

What I also find is that if an image is HDR this somehow degrades the image in some peoples eyes, as if its no longer a real photo.

Most of my landscape work is HDR and I try to get it looking "real" or at least my idea of real... Wink

I think the other big problem is.. People try it, get confused and give up also and then just hate it. Its easy to get it wrong and hard to do it right..

Anyway.... Its just another tool in the bag if used right and for me it means I can get away without my grads Smile which I hate....


rowarrior  64350 forum posts Scotland9 Constructive Critique Points
11 Mar 2008 - 10:28 PM

I took my first shots to try HDR this weekend and tried to process my first ones tonight, just hope none of my tutors are clutching their heads in anguish at the results! I was taking pics at a waterfall and was told by a wise old man (said safely because he's at least 30 miles down the road now!) that it was the perfect place to try it.

12 Mar 2008 - 12:05 AM

I think of HDR as just another piece of processing software, like capture NX/ Photoshop, its how you use it i think that really counts. But some of the over processed images, do have a certain charm.
Its all down to the personal taste Smile


12 Mar 2008 - 12:21 AM

It's certainly not easy to use straight out of the box. But on the shots I do try with it then I certainly agree that less is more.

As for purists pulling faces: The human eye is far Higher DR than any sensor. I'm of the opinion that to work purely within the limits of the camera is a good way to stifle one's own creativity for no good reason. Photoshop, photomatix, whatever. A good image is a good image [for some people].

sidaorb  83857 forum posts England2 Constructive Critique Points
12 Mar 2008 - 7:14 AM

I'm yet to dabble in the world on HDR, but having seen some of the fantastic photos that have appeared on here recently that have had the treatment I'm gonna try soon Smile

I would like to add though that if you take your 'photographer' head off sometimes and look at an overdone HDR image, sometimes they can look good too. I particularly like the Harley on Photomatix's website, as a photo its awful, but as a bit of 'art' on the wall, I think stunning Smile

12 Mar 2008 - 9:07 AM

I don't like obvious HDR but there are some wonderful images that can only have been created using the technique.
It's like make-up on a woman of a certain age - subtle usually is best Smile

mattw  105189 forum posts United Kingdom10 Constructive Critique Points
12 Mar 2008 - 9:24 AM

Well said Ade.

I'm a little be different:
I do like HDR sometimes, but it is not for me - yet

I don't have the time to invest learning the tools, and I'm happy to wait untill the technology matures a bit before doing so.

Quote: HDR is one of those things that works well in extremes. You either have to be subtle or go completely over the top so the image looks like a painting.

Very true, my opinion also.

Last Modified By mattw at 12 Mar 2008 - 9:24 AM

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