Tuesday, October 12, 2010

HDR Where It Makes Sense

I have been and continue to be a vocal opponent of the use of HDR to create over-the-top images, whether its garish color, poor contrast or thinking that halo-ing is feature rather than the defect that it is.

However sometimes, your scene has way more dynamic range than your camera can capture and so some dynamic range compression is needed to pull this off. I found myself in such a situation with this image. I took 7 images each separated by 2 stops and then combined them to create the final image.

This is one of the exposures to retain highlight detail, both in the light streaming into the room and onto the wall and of the world outside.

This is one of the exposures to retain shadow detail. As you can see this image and the final image have a similar level of color saturation.

I made this with Photomatix, which I continue to be impressed with, particularly the Exposure Fusion implementation in the new 4.0 version.


Edward Mendes said...

Thoughtful comments regarding HDR Aravind. As we were discussing this weekend, HDR is yet another tool in our photographer toolkits. However as with any tool, you have to be able to know how to use it and use it well in order to achieve success with it.

Over processed and unnatural looking HDR images seem to be everywhere, so much so that many people are starting to accept them and in doing so they drag down what is the art and challenge of nature photography.

This image is a fine example of how to do HDR well, keeping the image natural in its look and allowing the viewer to see what your eye saw.

Aravind Krishnaswamy said...

Thanks Edward.

Michael said...

Excellent photo as always. One of these days I will have to get a copy of Photomatix... then figure out how to use it as well as you are able to.

However, I take exception to what Edward said about unnatural HDR images dragging down the art and challenge of nature photography. That is completely false. In fact, they expand the art of photography and postprocessing.

To me that's like saying that impressionist painters dragged down the art of painting by failing to be realistic.

Edward Mendes said...

Hi Michael,

Perhaps my point was missed. HDR itself doesn't drag down the art form that is landscape photography, in fact when done well it helps to rely to the viewer more accurately what the photographer was seeing and experiencing within the scene when they created the image.

However as with any style or tool that isn't used properly or executed well and is still regarded in esteem by some, the medium as a whole suffers if that naivete becomes the prevalent mindset.

Your example of impressionist painters dragging down the art of painting isn't really an accurate example of what I was saying as the impressionist such as Monet, Renoir or early Cezanne preformed an entirely new style of art and did it exceptionally well. I think a more accurate example would be comparing a masterpiece by Monet with a piece painted by someone much less skilled and without a firm knowledge of what impressionism is or the technical skill to expertly achieve it and still raising that work to the level of Monet.

Be doing so you lessen the skill and vision of the true masters.

Regardless, thanks for your thought provoking comment Mike and I agree with you in your remarks of Aravind's excellent work.

Michael said...

Thanks for the clarification Edward. I'm still not fully convinced. If I'm an aspiring painter without a firm grasp of the "true" art of impressionism, I fail to see how my paintings lessen the work of the masters. If the end result is a painting that looks terrible, people will dismiss me and revere the masters even more. However, if the end result (if by luck or by skill) is a painting that is equally loved as those of the masters, then what is the problem?