The ongoing HDR debate is about to end
Why do I say that? I am going to prove to the world why the HDR technique really can come in handy or even save the day. Will this post really put an edit to the HDR debate? Most likely not but all I can do is try, right? This post is my opinion so don’t tell me I am wrong because an opinion can not be wrong. Read on…
Why I do it
Art is art. It’s about creating something. Whether you take an image straight out of the camera and print it to a canvas, or if you spend hours on HDR processing to get the vision you want, it’s all about you conveying something to the viewer. – Mike Olbinski
No, this is not “Jersey Shore”. The following example was not a paid job however pretend it was. You are at Eastern State Penitentiary and head down the steps in to “The Hole”. When you get to the bottom there is a very low ceiling (enough that you are almost on your knees) and cell gate blocking your way inside. Well, how is one supposed to photograph “The Hole” when you can not stand or even get inside.
Looking through the cell gate all you see are exposed pipes being lit by hanging shop lights. Our eyes adjust for lighting like this so we’re able to see most of what is inside, even with the horrible lighting. Cameras can not do this naturally. If we expose for the pipes then everything surrounding the lights will be too washed out. If we expose for the lights then the rest of the room will just be black without any detail at all. This is a problem.
There are a few solutions for this problem. One is photographing a longer exposure than normal and hoping that the lit area is not unusable. Risky but doable. Another way would be to photograph two shots. One exposing for the dark areas and one for the bright areas. Then in Photoshop, mask the two photographs together. Doable.
The HDR Solution
My solution had been to take nine bracketed exposures to create a HDR photograph. Yes, a HDR can be overdone and “out there” but if done correctly it can create a stunning photograph. The reason I chose to use the HDR technique down in “The Hole” was so I have all the detail captured so there is enough to work with to create a perfectly exposed photograph from dark to light.
If this was a paid job
So here we are. A final HDR photograph of the scene. Hypothetically, the client paid you to photograph this very difficult scene to be sure that the structure was safe for people to go inside. Hypothetically, there was a problem and the risk of a ceiling collapse was high. Hypothetically, the museum needed a photographer to capture what is happening down there as a safety. The museum needed a photograph that didn’t miss a thing and you produced a result with detail throughout the entire frame. I think that is a win in my book.
It’s not to say that it’s a saviour for any given rotten image or that in every situation HDR will make an ordinary image into something more appealing, but it certainly, I believe, has it’s place in the photographer’s tool bag. – Jacob F. Lucas
The HDR is not done
Please do not comment telling me that the HDR I showed you above looks fake. I know… it is not done. I created this HDR quickly to prove my point. My point being that sometimes using the HDR technique is the best solution to a very difficult scenario.
So let this be the end
There you have it. My point, my reasoning and my result. Still hate HDR? Then why are you reading this? Won’t try HDR? Then why are you reading this? If you love photography then stop the hate and try something new. Enjoy shooting and have fun with it. Hey, it could even make you some extra money. You can tell me I’m beating a dead horse and posting this was a waste of time. In the end it doesn’t matter. I have now shared my feelings on the subject. All I can say is lighten up, have fun with all photography and keep an open mind.
I think that it’s generally a good practice to know what it is that you are about to engage in before actually engaging in it. – Brian Matiash
Still need more?
Really? My post didn’t help end the debate at all? Do you need to read more opinions? Here you go…
- Mike Olbinski’s “Enough already with the HDR bashing“
- Jacob F. Lucas’s “Why HDR?”
- Brian Matiash’s “HDR Best Practices Guide“
- Trey Ratcliff’s “Top 10 HDR Mistakes“
Thanks for reading and happy shooting,