HDR Photography Tip: HDR Is No Excuse

© Eivind DovikThis is a guest post from fellow photographer Eivind Dovik.

This used to be a problem for me, but then I started looking through my photos and I realized: Hey, these are just HDRs.

HDR is not a good photo. When you’re out there shooting, either hand-held or with your tripod, that’s when you take a good photo. Each and everyone of us need to take good photos in order to create amazing HDRs. A badly composed photo cannot be saved simply by pulling it into Photomatix. When you’re shooting, look for cool things, angles, lines, colors – all of this has to be taken care of before you take them into Photomatix.

I started thinking about this a little while ago, and since then I haven’t just shot brackets just to get different exposures that I could merge to HDR. I used to do this before – I ran off, set up basically wherever I could and fired away, merged, processed and was happy. The photos didn’t look good – they just looked like HDRs.

HDR is the icing on the cake. When you have your brackets that are shot in good light, they’re well composed and they feel right – that’s when you use HDR-techniques to make them look absolutely fantastic. HDR is a tool to make a good photograph look awesome. It’s not a tool for making a crummy photo look like a crummy HDR – because that’s what you’re gonna get.

Put your eyes out there – start looking for subjects that would actually look pretty good even without HDR. Use HDR to enhance your good shots. It’s my best tip.

Photo by Eivind Dovik. View more photos on Eivind’s website. Eivind can also be found on Twitter @ eivinddovik

Thanks for reading and happy shooting

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Thanks for this tip. I’m trying very hard to get better at HDR and I was doing exactly what you said not to do. However, my son bought me a book – Practical HDR by David Nightingale – and I started reading it before my shoot at Letchworth State Park here in Western New York. It made a difference to try and gauge exposures, lighting and composition. They are still not “great photos” yet so the HDR is still lacking but I can see an improvement.

    Now I have another goal – thanks again!

    1. David’s book is one of my favorite photography books ever. Study it hard and you will notice a big improvement in your HDR photography. Also, visit hdrphotog.com for daily inspiration.

  2. Thank you!
    HDR is NOT a solution to a crappy image.

  3. Totally agree – you have to get a great image regardless of how you intend to process it. I always shoot brackets and have a fairly high hit rate, but often something that you think will work really well when shooting just doesn’t – no matter how its processed – HDR / filters / curves its still going to look crappy!

    1. A bad image is a bad image, but it does still have a chance of redemption. HDR may or may not be the answer. I find that a bad color photograph can turn out to be a kick butt BW photograph.

  4. I agree, HDR can make an image look fantastic, and even a crappy pic look more interesting. But a well composed and exposed HDR looks AMAZING!

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