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Interview with a HDR photographer

Marc Radford loved HDR work from the first moment he saw it and now all his photography revolves aroud it.

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HDR shot of a boat
How did you get into photography and why did you decide to explore HDR?
"I spent many years as a 3D Artist and Art Director in the 3D Rendering Industry creating works for Entertainment and Videogame companies, in the late 90’s when the internet bubble burst like many professionals had to find alternate work and ended up doing sales; my creative juices never stopped flowing and one day in June 2008 I decided to give photography a try and was thrilled with the results.

Diving right into the scene and having my own vision on how I wanted my shots to visually appear, I joined up to many public galleries to see what others were doing, I laid my eyes on my first HDR by Dave Constable and was hooked instantly; the rendered look was what I was going for and HDR can give you a wonderful head start to achieve that."

You say you have your own unique style, can you explain what this is?
"Explaining something creative can be challenging as the beauty of Art is how each person is effected by the imagery. In this case, I started saying I have my own unique style based on thousands of comments to my work on places like Flickr saying consistent things like “you can spot your work a mile away instantly”, “always dramatic” etc.

Initially this was eye opening as the magic of art doesn’t just happen on the viewer side it also has an obvious continuity with the creating side, I didn’t realise there was anything in common with all my works but was afraid all my work would look the same and thus be boring.

Again being told by many my style is always dramatic or tranquil, magical or hard edged, rendered, moody and painterly.
HDR landscape shot

For those who don't know, in a nutshell, can you explain what HDR is?
"High Dynamic Range – Anyone who has tried their hand at taking photographs is familiar with the dreaded situation of having a wonderful shot with detailed perfect foreground and a pure white sky, or the reverse of having a great looking sky and a really dark foreground? This is your camera’s inability to capture the full range of levels we see with our eyes, it isn’t possible to exposure both foreground and sky perfectly thus the compromise with dialing in the best solution hence the art of photography.

HDR changes the rules and allows you mix more than one exposure of the same scene, so we can have the right exposure for the sky and the right exposure for the foreground and blending them together with programs such as Photomatix.

Do you find yourself spending more time looking for scenes which would work particularly well in HDR?
"I am always going for a visual experience so the kind of scenes I shoot just happen to be best complimented by HDR technology, I like a dark feel often in dark shadowy settings and with HDR achieving more brightness and detail in normally black areas then you would expect to see driving home part of the equation - interest factor."

Are there any particular subjects that work well for HDR?
"Often I wonder if I shoot things specific for HDR or not, I think any subject that you want to drive home lots of detail or more detail then a normal shot would show can work really well with a HDR, keep in mind how you blend your exposures can be very subtle to dramatic so HDR really can enhance your photograph without anyone knowing you done anything special."
HDR sea shot

What equipment is essential for this type of work?
"Just a camera with the ability to shoot an exposure bracket, and a program that allows you to blend them like Photomatix."

What lenses do you use and why?
"I am still using the lens kit that came with the camera at initial purchase, having started only back in June 2008 still very new but getting ready for a purchase shortly of a 10-20mm."

Do you go out at a particular time of day to do your work? Is there a best time of day (light etc.) that will help you produce the best HDR work?
"No different than any photographer who strives to capture a variety of day time, night time or weather conditions."

How long do you expose for and how many exposures do you roughly produce?
"Exposures vary but I am always shooting without a tripod so normally 3sec or less and three exposures per shot but I often only use two of them as the long exposure is blurry."

Do you find yourself spending more time in front of the computer?
"Yes photography for me is a creative outlet for the digital arts, the camera drives the digital processing and that is a never ending learn and progression."

What's the best thing someone's said to you about your work?
"That my work is inspiring to them."
HDR train

See Marc Redford's website for more examples of his work.

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mcgovernjon 12 138 United Kingdom
4 Dec 2009 7:52AM
This is HDR at its best - compositionally strong photos being processed. I hate the way it's often used as a 'quick fix' on bad photos.
davidburleson 13 3.0k 3 United Kingdom
4 Dec 2009 9:24AM
I'm not usually a fan of HDR, but these are some great examples of good HDR.
User_Removed 13 485 13 England
5 Dec 2009 8:54PM
ohh that's me that is .. i am famous lol

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