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View Poll Results: What should be the fate of the HDR?
Death. Show no mercy. HDR needs to die. 72 31.58%
HDR is great photography. It shouldn't go. 156 68.42%
Voters: 228. You may not vote on this poll

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Old Sep 12, 2012, 11:50 PM   #101
Policar
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Sure, here are some examples from photographers I've spoken with a bit so I have some insight into their methods.

I talked with this real estate photographer online and his method involves careful lighting (with both hot lights and strobes), waiting for good light at the end of the day, shooting multiple exposures on a tech camera, and then doing hdr and digital dodging and burning:

http://christopherbarrett.net

Maybe he'll find this link here and be flattered (or upset that I got his methods wrong, I hope not)... It's not all "art" and I like the commercial stuff better than the personal stuff (which is also nice) but at worst it's very elegant and excellent craft with good lighting, nice compositions, technical precision, and good subtle use of HDR. Really nice.

For landscape, where you can wait for the best light, I prefer low dynamic range images because you can print with more contrast than the scene originally had and use dodging and burning to increase, rather than compensate for, the original amount of contrast; particularly with color images I find this looks nice. I talked with this landscape photographer, and he told me that his style is a low dynamic range image, 4x5 velvia generally with a pretty long exposure and very deep stop, and normal and slight telephoto only. He chases storms to get good light at the end of the day and stormclouds. He dodges and burns extensively digitally from drum scans. I am very fond of his style as compared with other recent color landscape photography, and prefer his work with longer lenses, simpler compositions, etc. to the near/far style stuff with an obvious foreground:

http://www.robertturnerphoto.com/gallery/

I strongly dislike all of Trey Ratcliffe's photography.

Last edited by Policar; Sep 12, 2012 at 11:56 PM.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 04:52 AM   #102
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The HDR pix I like are those that just seem to work as pix... and don’t say ‘HDR’ at all... The opening up of shadows, with HDR, seems to come at a rather high price... like taking a medicine when the side-effects are almost as bad as the disease. Used routinely HDR looks like a photographic cul-de-sac to me; like the special effects in movies, the temptation is to crank everything ‘up to 11’... just because it’s possible. The result is that the photographer gets mildly addicted to this special effect, and doesn’t learn anything new about the subtleties and nuances of light.

I have experimented with Photomatix... trying to find genuine uses for the software. For well-lit landscapes I can’t see the point. The light can be harnessed to do everything HDR can do, but with finesse rather than all the ugly artifacts that come with HDR: the ‘muddy‘ look, the ‘halo effect’, etc. For people? Forget it... faces, close up, look as if they haven’t been washed for a week: very unflattering for males and females alike. For reportage and documentary photography, where a real moment is captured, the HDR treatment seems to argue the very opposite... suggesting that “this event never really happened”.

I’ve deleted most of my experiments with Photomatix. The results, though intriguing, didn’t stand up to scrutiny once the novelty had worn off. I might use it again in dark interiors, but I can’t see many other uses. But, hey, photography is a ‘broad church’ and people are free to use their cameras and computers in any way they want... just as I’ve got the right to turn away from their images in case my eyeballs get fried.

This is one of the few HDR shots that I still like...

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Old Sep 13, 2012, 04:57 AM   #103
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I think the problem with HDR photos is how it is applied. The vast majority of HDR photos are used when it is not needed or just doesn't enhance the photo. I believe that most of these are just enhanced because of the initial thought of 'ooh! more colours!'. If used correctly then I think it can produce some wonderful results. But that isn't often.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 11:41 AM   #104
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There is a problem in saying "HDR is.....". Exactly which HDR application used by which photographer on which image are you referring to? Folks can totally train wreck an image with almost any post-processing tool. It doe not take HDR to deliver a less than pleasing image.

Many folks have a need for a photo to be a realistic or documentary image. But look at the wide variety of painting styles: realism, surrealism, impressionism, cubism...etc. Just as painting has lots of styles, so can photography...painting with light. Thank goodness none of us are limited to realistic or documentary snapshots!!! Leave those for the photo journalists or contracted Nat Geo photographers who are very limited to what they can do with their photos.

Long live photographers that are not afraid to experiment and deliver images that are pleasing to themselves. After all, it is their art. We are then equally free to like it or not.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 12:30 PM   #105
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Just attended another National Geographic Society photo technique seminar and it was generally felt that HDR is extremely phony looking with over emphasis of garish colors.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 07:07 PM   #106
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Originally Posted by wolfpuppies3 View Post
Just attended another National Geographic Society photo technique seminar and it was generally felt that HDR is extremely phony looking with over emphasis of garish colors.
Hope it was a free seminar, because personally I'd hate to attend a seminar(or any class) expecting to learn techniques and then they bash, certains techniques instead of teaching me how to properly utilize them.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 07:09 PM   #107
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I don't think he was implying that they bashed HDR as a part of the seminar. At least that's not what I took from his post.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 08:38 PM   #108
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Missing the point

I think some people are completely missing the point of HDR.

Firstly it's another tool that allows some artistic freedom with images. That tool can be used in many different ways, to more realistically reproduce what the eye can see or to distort the scene in a way that is artistic, at least to the creator of the image. To read any more into HDR is really choosing to put your own likes and dislikes in front of the photographer's choices, as ever that is your choice. At the end of the day to imply that there is something inherently wrong with HDR as a technique is like saying there is something wrong with someone's eye.

So get over it and criticize the artist not the tool.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 08:48 PM   #109
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A sample HDR

Here is an HDR from Atlantis in Nassau, I don't believe it meets the definition of 'it needs to go away', see what you think ...
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 09:27 PM   #110
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Gee imagine Nat Geo Society not liking HDR. Who would have thought? Classic case of a group that wants only realistic/documentary photos. Great that they know what they want. But there is so much more we can do in photography that just realistic/documentary snapshots.

I wonder if those folks have ever considered that folks like Ansel Adams was all over the post processing of his day (lab work) with all manner of lights, chemicals, papers..etc. If he had had Photoshop, he would have been a maven on it, HDR tools...etc.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 10:08 PM   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Policar View Post
It's not all "art" and I like the commercial stuff better than the personal stuff (which is also nice) but at worst it's very elegant and excellent craft with good lighting, nice compositions, technical precision, and good subtle use of HDR. Really nice.
I was actually really surprised with these photos! Reading your description of what goes into them was intruiging, but I didn't think I'd like them. Glad I was pleasantly surprised! They're interesting, I would have never thought to use HDR for commercial architectural photography, but the subtle application that he uses is really nice! Just enough to make it feel different, but not surreal.

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Originally Posted by Policar View Post
For landscape, where you can wait for the best light, I prefer low dynamic range images because you can print with more contrast than the scene originally had and use dodging and burning to increase, rather than compensate for, the original amount of contrast; particularly with color images I find this looks nice.
http://www.robertturnerphoto.com/gallery/
These I don't like so much.... And again, it's probably that I've grown into liking high contrast, high dynamic range pictures that I feel these are a bit flat. Many of them seem to just have one or two similar colors filling most of the picture that I find distracting, and almost have a kind of hazy, low contrast look to them (these two for example: ****************eZByY and ****************VVPu4). His photography technique though, I really appreciate! It's definitely unique to see really zoomed in landscape photos like that, not to mention actually good ones like these. And, I notice that scrolling down a bit farther, I find that all of the "vertical" format pictures he has posted are really very nicely edited (I much prefer the colors and look of these over the ones in the top group).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Policar View Post
I strongly dislike all of Trey Ratcliff's photography.
Well then, that explains why our styles differ so much!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Doylem View Post
For well-lit landscapes I can’t see the point. The light can be harnessed to do everything HDR can do, but with finesse rather than all the ugly artifacts that come with HDR: the ‘muddy‘ look, the ‘halo effect’, etc.
It's very easy to make good HDR photo's without these "side effects" though! Granted, most of the photos out there that you'll find are from people that, like you said, will just crank the sliders in Photomatix all the way up just because they can, and I agree that those massively overdone photos are a disaster. But there are definitely plenty of (in my opinion of course) excellent landscape HDR photographs that I think have much more interesting and eye-catching displays of light that are just impossible to recreate without photoshop or massive amounts of editing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Doylem View Post
For people? Forget it... faces, close up, look as if they haven’t been washed for a week: very unflattering for males and females alike.
Oh, I've always thought that if someone is trying to take an HDR portrait of you that they should really pay you as the time you spent getting your picture taken will be worth more than the picture itself I agree, it's just a terribly unflattering technique when applied to people....
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 10:20 PM   #112
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The two examples you posted are two of my favorite photos, or the style is closest to what I would like to achieve if I were a much better photographer than I am. It can take weeks of waiting to get just the perfect light when you only have four stops of DR, as is available on Velvia, not to mention the difficulty of exposing in the first place on large format (bellows extension, tilt/swing compensation; scheimpflug and dof calculation; reciprocity error, etc.). It's a very meticulous process, but the results are worth it to some. I have only gotten one decent shot in 4x5 and I couldn't justify the cost of a scan.

And I think the issue really boils down to format. Most Ansel Adams and Crewdson shows showcase 80''X100'' prints and at that size the slightest manipulation becomes very apparent, so you have to work more subtly. Those landscape prints above are usually printed 50'' wide. Any of the tonemapped HDR photos in this thread--literally any one of them--would look gaudy and ugly at huge sizes where the halos would be inches in size and the lack of tonal hierarchy would be really obvious. But I agree they "jump" online. And the details are so vividly apparent at big sizes (not even 80 megapixel backs can compare with 8x10, they're about on par with very good 4x5) that a complicated composition becomes very overwhelming and extremely simple subject matter, shot without much filtration and with very subtle post work looks best. Whereas smaller photos often require more busy, wide angle compositions to get attention. This is my opinion, though; Peter Lik sells tons of huge prints of very bad photographs with tone mapping, ultra wide lenses, the works--but I do think format matters and I don't think his recent work would be accepted with the precedent of tonemapped photos online. On smaller formats more manipulation looks better; large formats do better with subtly technique is my opinion. I like a lot of heavily processed digital cinematography, which would certainly be considered HDR (Roger Deakins' pioneering work with the DI) as well as heavily processed low DR (Richardsons and Kaminski's work with bleach bypass and ENR and nets and classic softs, which blow out all over the place).

So for me I like crazy looking movies and more subtle stills. Which is kind of backward, I guess, but how many IMAX movies have you seen with that kind of distorted cinematography? So I think smaller formats are just inherently better for artistic distortion.

Last edited by Policar; Sep 13, 2012 at 10:27 PM.
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 10:36 PM   #113
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Originally Posted by Policar View Post
The two examples you posted are two of my favorite photos, or the style is closest to what I would like to achieve if I were a much better photographer than I am.
Now that I've looked at them a bit more, I think I like the desert dune one a bit more than I did before... I do wish it had just a bit more colorful sky in view and less white dune, but for the most part, I think that it's a really nice picture. Looking at the other one unfortunately, I still can't find what's too good about it. I think the colors are all very jumbled together and distracting at the bottom; just my opinion though.

Quote:
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On smaller formats more manipulation looks better; large formats do better with subtly technique is my opinion.
Oh absolutely! I didn't realize you were talking about large wall prints, I was thinking more along the lines of a computer wallpaper or a photo that just sits in an Aperture library to show your friends and never leaves the computer screen. Ya, I couldn't imagine having something like that Trey Ratcliff photo I posted earlier as a 50" or 80" print on the wall! Every little halo and artifact created by the tonemapping would be huge and glaringly obvious. But for large prints like that, I agree, low dynamic range, subtly edited photos like the ones you posted are much more appealing!
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Old Sep 13, 2012, 11:55 PM   #114
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I agree - HDR is AWFUL amateurish ****. It's the new blurry waterfall and no professional would touch it with a barge pole.

If you need to extend the contrast in an image you can do it subtly without HDR, but most people who use it seem to think it looks great when they increase the range to look completely unnatural which should be punishable by putting their cameras under a truck - and in the most extreme cases, while they are still wearing them.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 12:56 AM   #115
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Should be punishable by putting their cameras under a truck - and in the most extreme cases, while they are still wearing them.
Wow, a bit harsh, don't you think? Believe it or not, it is actually possible to create an HDR image that doesn't look like a rainbow threw up on it....
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 01:02 AM   #116
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HDR is most useful on cameras like the iPhone because of the small sensor size. Smaller sensors have less ability to capture dynamic range and HDR in this case helps with that limitation. It has allowed me to get some shots that I would normally have needed a camera with bigger size sensor to capture properly.

Larger, more professional cameras that have full frame 35mm sensors, or APS-C for that matter should not need to rely on HDR nearly as much.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 01:14 AM   #117
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Wow, a bit harsh, don't you think? Believe it or not, it is actually possible to create an HDR image that doesn't look like a rainbow threw up on it....
Harsh? I don't think so. Making them use Windows and wear track suits - would be worse.
Gently tweaking the highlights and shadows - which photographers have been doing long before computers and digital - is not HDR any more than 'creating art' by fiddling around with photos in Painter is ART.

Only replied because I'm fed up watching the countdown to iPhone5 pre-order time - 48 minutes and counting - though I do believe HDR is TERRIBLE.

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Old Sep 14, 2012, 01:20 AM   #118
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Gently tweaking the highlights and shadows - which photographers have been doing long before computers and digital - is not HDR any more than 'creating art' by fiddling around with photos in Painter is ART.
That is HDR so long as you're recovering information that would be missing otherwise. Dodging and burning negatives using the zone system, even pulling detail down from raw using highlight recovery and fill light--those are all subtle HDR techniques, in the latter case it's even explicitly tone mapping.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 02:05 AM   #119
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That is HDR so long as you're recovering information that would be missing otherwise. Dodging and burning negatives using the zone system, even pulling detail down from raw using highlight recovery and fill light--those are all subtle HDR techniques, in the latter case it's even explicitly tone mapping.
Dodging and burning is not HIGH nor DYNAMIC, but then I'm now sounding like a humourless pedant unlike anyone else on this thread. There's a mile (or kilometre) of difference between a slight enhancement and what is generally unmistakably HDR, which should be banned, but on the other hand it does show up the amateurs - I suppose the ultimate is an HDR photo of a blurry waterfall.

Bored now.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 10:13 AM   #120
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Still Don't like HDR pushed to surrealistic limits, BUT...

I am a realist to be sure. I saw only HDR images that were pushed to unrealistic, surrealistic, limits and they looked fake and gaudy. I didn't like them so I discounted HDR as foolish and that was that.
Then I saw some photos that were not pushed so far, and they really brought out details in a photo.
I opened my mind and started to investigate HDR. I learned of the many possibilities of HDR photography that result in clear, crisp, complete photos. Especially if you are shooting a high contrast photo where for example, you are shooting a room inside where there is a window where the bright light of a sunny day is coming in. You can mess with adjustments that moderate the wide contrast, but you usually get a blowout in the window or if you meter the window light your room is underexposed.
With HDR shoot multiple bracketed shots, combine, adjust for realistic look as opposed to wild colors, and you'll get a photo that includes the details of the room contents as well as the view out the window, with no blowout.
I do this all the time for high contrast situations. Set to 3 frame rapid fire, 2 stop exposure bracketing, and let it rip.
I get "wow" comments all the time on these types of photos, and Im an HDR convert.
Don't dismiss the possibilities of HDR just because you see a lot of bizarre or gaudy colored HDR pictures. Yes they can be pushed that far, but moderation and learning the slider setting results will produce quality, non garish images.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 02:57 PM   #121
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Dodging and burning is not HIGH nor DYNAMIC, but then I'm now sounding like a humourless pedant unlike anyone else on this thread. There's a mile (or kilometre) of difference between a slight enhancement and what is generally unmistakably HDR, which should be banned, but on the other hand it does show up the amateurs - I suppose the ultimate is an HDR photo of a blurry waterfall.

Bored now.
Dodging and burning in photoshop isn't, but Ansel Adam's zone system is an HDR technique, maybe even the first; it's just not automated. 10 stop scene and ten stop negative onto five-stop paper. I don't understand how you can be familiar with the zone system and not realize this. It would almost be tone mapping except that the masks are drawn by hand, not computer. One of his negatives printed normally would look nothing like the prints we're used to seeing. His color prints, of course, are not HDR and the zone system only works in color with digital photography or digital post. But his black and white 8x10 work is almost entirely zone system and that's what gives it such an amazing look.

You're not only sounding like a humorless pedant, you're very simply wrong. Zone system is HDR. It's not tone mapping, but it's the same as merging multiple digital exposures to get a wide dynamic range image and then dodging and burning from that, which is an HDR technique. Crewdson's prints are also HDR (dodging and burning from a wide-DR composite of multiple 8x10 shots).

If you're bored, maybe you should pick up a book on photography; clearly you know little about it.

I guess maybe the highlight and fill light sliders in photoshop aren't technically HDR so much as they're tone mapping for non-HDR material. I'll give you that.

Last edited by Policar; Sep 14, 2012 at 03:05 PM.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 03:10 PM   #122
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Your poll needs a middle ground. I can't vote either way.

HDR can be great - properly done, it can present much more realistic tones and more accurately depict what the human eye sees. It can also, at times, be used to good artistic effect.

However, too much overblown HDR can be horrible. I had a Flickr contact who regularly produced decent shots - until he discovered HDR. Then it was all he did - he seemed to think that anything was art if it was sufficiently overblown. He's not a contact anymore.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 03:51 PM   #123
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Okay!

Let me explain:

HDR is to photography as autotune is to music.

It's EVERYWHERE. At first, it was novel. And there are some arguably nice results from it. However, it is becoming a bit of a photographic cliche of the current moment.

In the 1980s in music it was those huge cavernous gated reverbs and tinkly, sparkly synthesizers.
Today it's a bit painful to listen to since it is so symptomatic of a time.

In 10 years people will look at some HDR photos going "I wish I had the non HDR version of that."
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 04:06 PM   #124
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HDR is wonderful it adds a sense of surrealism into the photos. Especially for my architectural type shots.

I prefer the meaning "let people just express themselves and go wild" Experiment!!

I will say though that the iPhones built in system isn't much good, but hey its only a phone after all. I generally build HDR's with my Nikon DSLR using 10 or more exposures.

Personally I'm a fan of HDR's where there is a form of sky in the scene, because it makes it that bit more unusual.


Some examples of my better HDR's

Local Cemetery (12 Exposures)

The Twilight Zone by Ryan J. Nicholson, on Flickr

A local Minster (15 Exposures)

Howden Minster HDR by Ryan J. Nicholson, on Flickr

St Paul's Cathedral (This was created with HDR Efex Pro from a single exposure. I prefer multiple shot HDR's to be honest as you are able to get that few extra little details, but I still dig the colour)

The Rear of St. Paul's by Ryan J. Nicholson, on Flickr

Tower Hill (9 Exposures: This is possibly my best I'm loving how the sky turned out)

Building Storm by Ryan J. Nicholson, on Flickr
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 04:40 PM   #125
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HDR is wonderful it adds a sense of surrealism into the photos. Especially for my architectural type shots.

I prefer the meaning "let people just express themselves and go wild" Experiment!!

I can't stand stuck up "apparent" purist photographers "thinking they are (it) when it comes to photography". When most of the time, the work I've seen is sub standard at best.

I will say though that the iPhones built in system isn't much good, but hey its only a phone after all. I generally build HDR's with my Nikon DSLR using 10 or more exposures.

Personally I'm a fan of HDR's where there is a form of sky in the scene, because it makes it that bit more unusual.


Some examples of my better HDR's

Local Cemetery (12 Exposures)
Image
The Twilight Zone by Ryan J. Nicholson, on Flickr

A local Minster (15 Exposures)
Image
Howden Minster HDR by Ryan J. Nicholson, on Flickr

St Paul's Cathedral (This was created with HDR Efex Pro from a single exposure. I prefer multiple shot HDR's to be honest as you are able to get that few extra little details, but I still dig the colour)
Image
The Rear of St. Paul's by Ryan J. Nicholson, on Flickr

Tower Hill (9 Exposures: This is possibly my best I'm loving how the sky turned out)
Image
Building Storm by Ryan J. Nicholson, on Flickr
Just because someone is a purist doesn't mean they're a good photographer. It's an expression of taste, not of talent.

That said, can you direct me to a single photo from a so-called "purist" that is worse than any of those? They are very tacky pictures.
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