HDR Photography Tip: Blown out highlights are good for the soul
Port with Authority

One of my biggest HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography pet peeves is when a photographer pushes their photograph to the point where a spot that should be a blown out highlight (no detail at all in the whitest points) is now grey. To put it bluntly, that looks ridiculous.

So this is a very simple and quick tip for anyone that is already a HDR photographer or someone trying to learn HDR photography. If something is meant to be blown out, let it. See, that wasn’t difficult.

Look at the HDR photograph below. If the light was grey, it would look horrible.

Port with Authority
Port with Authority

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,
Scott

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Absolutely!

  2. Just for once, I actually agree. Wholeheartedly. There’s little worse than HDR “landscapes” where the sky has been reined-in to a uniform splodge of midtone grey. I think sometimes we instinctively expect cameras to struggle in certain lighting conditions so having dark smoky pubs come out perfectly centred on a midtone, or highlights with the contrast tuned down so low as to cram 15EV into the space of 8, it just doesn’t look right.

    1. It’s amazing how often people take it too far.

  3. Well…I agree that SOME things shouldn’t be grayed for blown out highlights…but clouds in the sky should never be blown out. That is a rookie mistake I made alot when I first started.

    There are plenty of great ways to avoid blown out highlights AND not make your sky gray.

    But for a light like in this picture…or stuff like that, there is no reason to NOT show a blown highlight.

    1. I agree there are times when highlights should be controlled and not blown out but even with clouds, if the sun is coming through there is no reason to try and adjust for it.

  4. That’s a great shot, great tip – and that white light burst is really awesome!

  5. Great tip for all dude, love that star pattern and the trail of piss! ;)

  6. Great tips you have here. And that burst makes it like a diamond sparkling thing hehehe

    job well done!

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