Am I missing the point of HDR?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by BOOSTD, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. BOOSTD macrumors member

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    #1
    So Im relatively new to photography. I've been seriously involved in it for less than a year now and, although I still cant produce them, I know a great photograph when I see one. I also recently learned about HDR photography. I think its a great form of photography which can produce amazing photographs, but only when used sparingly. Having looked at many HDR pictures on the web and on this forum, I have noticed that many of these photographs would be mediocre at best and some are, to put it simply, boring. However, some of the most banal photographs, having been converted to HDR, get the most attention and praise. Am I missing the point of HDR? When I see some of these pictures, I see a snapshot, but it seems like many people fall head over heals for them and think their great. Is HDR more difficult than I think? I even tried my hand at HDR and took a picture from my apartment. I think it looks neat, but aside from that, its not an interesting photograph. Please enlighten me if Im missing the point of HDR.


    BOOSTD

    Here's the shot that I took and converted to HDR in Photoshop. It was a bad picture before HDR and its still a bad picture after HDR.
     

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  2. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #2
    The effect varies depending on the picture and process.

    Have you seen the MacRumors HDR thread?

    And remember, art is always a matter of opinion.
     
  3. SolracSelbor macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I totally hate oil painting. You know? I mean whats up with the frekkin Mona Lisa? It's just a picture of some person with a messed up grin? Sure the oils make it look nice, but its not spectacular. Some people just paint stupid things with oils and get praised for it! Look at picasso, dont even get me started! I dont see the point in oil painting, i mean it's simply replicating an idea that can be perceptually traced by hand. Seems like the hardest part is figuring out what to paint and how to paint it; it's not even that hard. Someone please enlighten me on the point of oil painting as a medium.

    SolracSelbor

    Here's a picture of an oil painting I made in order to show how easy it is to do:
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #4
    I agree with the OP that a boring pic wll still be a boring pic... no matter that kind of post-production 'magic' you subject it to. And, yes, a pic that's simply 'way out' will get some attention ("Man, that's awesome" is the usual phrase ;)). But a "point" to HDR?? There's a point... if you see one.

    HDR is just one tool in the photographic locker; it's not a magic wand. I have been experimenting, to find what combination of conditions makes it worthwhile to try HDR: ie what is a problem for which HDR might be a solution.

    Nothing wrong with judicious use of HDR, IMO, as long as you know what you're trying to achieve... rather than just to give some spurious interest to a dull photo.

    Don't like it? Then don't do it! :)
     
  5. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #5
    Not being an expert in hdr, and I don't have the software to experiment with it yet, but I think the point of hdr is pretty simple - to overcome the limits in dynamic range of digital sensors (between highlights and shadows) in order to achieve results on par with what is possible with film. As software enables various exposure levels of the same scene to be "overlapped" and layered, it just becomes another tool, as Doylem said. Ansel Adams had his zone system for black and white film, which involved manipulating the exposure and development of film, and the print to achive extremely beautiful photographs, which extracted detail from the deepest shadows and maintained detail in the highlights, without flattening the overall tone of the image. So, I'd say hdr was already being practiced in a sense years ago. In the end, it's a way to reach closer to the level of detail and exposure that the human eye sees, rather than the compressed and compromised limitations of film, and especially digital.

    Like anything else, the techniques can also allow an artist to achieve unusual or dramatic results, even exaggerated effects if that's what he/she is trying to do.

    Okay, now I'm outta breath...! ;)
     
  6. Bigtree macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I'm SICK and TIRED of them! What a gimmick! Ask yourself this, next time you see one. What kind of photograph would this be without HDR? It would be nothing!!! So you start out with nothing and you STILL have nothing!!!!!
     
  7. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #7
    It will settle down. Right now, people are using the technique simply because they can... rather than because it might enhance a particular image. And it's tempting to move sliders around, to make the effect even more dramatic... to the point of being surreal, cartoon-like and and 'other-worldly'.

    When I've seen the technique used well, it can be fascinating. But too many photographers have the technical skill... but lack a little restraint and discipline. All these PP techniques look best in the hands of photographers who know when to stop.. Sometimes "less is more"...
     
  8. onomatopoeia macrumors 6502

    onomatopoeia

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    #8
    I'm a bit confused by your post. You rant about HDR being applied to banal photographs and then you post a boring, poorly composed image of your own.

    I pretty much agree with everything you're saying...but sort of scratched my head when I see that image. :confused: I think most of the people who "get" HDR will agree 100% that you need a good photo as a base. The HDR trend is certainly putting a lot of junk out there but I also notice that a lot of people really like these overdone, burnt HDR's. Most of these look like crap, IMO but if it has more people enjoying photography then I'm all for it.
     
  9. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

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    #9
    The problems arise when there are basically two uses for HDR (improving and "posterizing") and folks can't separate and discuss them as different techniques. Unfortunately, many people only think of one of the uses and slam the entire concept.

    I look as some of the extreme examples and like them. Many of the "corrective" examples are absolutely lovely. I know that HDR was used to achieve the final look, but I still look at them differently.
     
  10. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #10
    :p I totally hate all photos. I mean, come on! All you do is point and shoot. It's not like you made whatever you're capturing! At best, photogs are "image thiefs" because they steal pretty pictures from their environments, and then take credit. I don't get the idea behind photos. I mean, ANYONE can take a photo of, say, an interesting scene! Sheesh.
     
  11. Whorehay macrumors 6502a

    Whorehay

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    #11
    I'm not a fan of HDR, but I will admit, the software is getting better and better at handling HDR.
     
  12. davidjearly macrumors 68020

    davidjearly

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    #12
    No, they can't. :p
     
  13. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #13
    I think we're getting lost down the one-way streets of satire and irony...;)
     
  14. teleromeo macrumors 65816

    teleromeo

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    #14
    you sound like an amateur that has a DSLR and thinks he can make photo's because he has this camera but never took a lesson on how to make good pictures. Yoy need more than an automatic camera and photoshop to have eyecatching result.
     
  15. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #15
    I agree with Doylem.
     
  16. Bigtree macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Outstanding answer!!!!!! Couldn't agree with you more!!!!
     
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #17
    The reason HDR is popular is because it is easy. You just click a button a it's done. So of course we are seeing a million of them. Same with photography in general. Now that we have fully automatic cameras anyone can make a picture and 99.999% of then are not very good.

    Photographic printing has always been about how much of the dynamic range in a scene is to be transfered to the dynamic range of the paper print. People did this intuitively from the beginning. Adam's "Zone System" tried to put it into easy to understand and reproduce terms. We used to use varied development times to control contrast but now we have digital computers but the result is the same.
     
  18. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

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  19. Joedy macrumors member

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    #19
    A bad photo cannot be made into a good photo just by merging the exposed images into a single photograph.

    The problem that I am seeing is that photographers are relying on HDR to sugarcoat a bad photo into something more interesting.


    While the HDR images are, indeed, striking in their saturation and tonal range, the vast majority of the ones that I have seen have poor composition and subject focus.

    HDR is a tool just like filters and reflectors are tools.

    All of tools in the world won't make you a good photographer, only one that happens to own a lot of tools.

    -joedy
     
  20. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #20
    I agree, to a point. Overblown HDR is annoying, unless it's used for a special effect. But the same can be said for abuses of saturation, curves, levels, etc.

    But IMHO, subtle, tasteful use of HDR (see Valdore's HDRs for excellent examples) actually adds to the shot because, in some ways, it more faithfully represents what your eye actually sees. I don't like HDR on everything (for instance, I can't stand HDR on landscapes), but for nighttime architecture, or ominous skies, it's a wonderful treatment that can really enhance the emotion and feeling in the shot.
     
  21. BOOSTD thread starter macrumors member

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    #21
    hey onomatopoeia, the HDR I posted was an example of what I mean. Its simply a snapshot out my window...thats it. no artistic influence, just closesd my eyes and took the pic. I didnt go overboard with the HDR (tone mapping, or other post processing) but I was trying to make the point that a bad picture, converted to HDR, is still a bad picture.

    SolracSelbor: your analogy is horrible. You obviously dont understand my (many people's) point. Painting, drawing, sculpting etc is an ART. HDR is simply a modification to a picture. No body can tell me with a straight face that converting a picture into HDR takes artistic ability. Hell, all I needed to make my HDR was a computer, Photoshop, a finger and a pulse...oh and the crappy starting photo.

    BOOSTD
     
  22. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    #22
    Well using your logic anyone can take a picture, so phototography must not be an art form. All you need is a camera to take a picture.
    The point is HDR is just another tool that can make a photo (starting with a good one) more interesting, you can bring out details you couldn't previously see. It's kind of like a caricature, it's just a picture then made exagerated.
     
  23. rjfiske macrumors regular

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    #23
    To a certain extent, your first point is right. I'd argue that "anyone taking a picture" isn't "photography". But now we're WAY down the road of semantics, and off the OP's topic. :)

    Your second point is also correct... The idea behind HDR isn't to take any photograph and make it better. It's to take specific photographs and make them better. The practical application of HDR is, as you say, to bring out details that previously couldn't be done. So I think you and the OP have the same point, really. That's how I'm looking at it.

    And to EricNau, thanks for that link. I hadn't seen that forum thread before!

    rjf
     
  24. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #24
    I agree completely. Most of the photos are awful, and making them HDR just makes the image quality slightly better (in some ways). But if the photo sucks, it sucks. You can't polish a turd.
     
  25. SolracSelbor macrumors 6502

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    #25
    I didnt say "Painting" as a whole, foo! I said "OIL" painting as a medium! Yes all you needed to make an HDR was photoshop::all i needed to make an oil painting was oil paints. Just cuz you made an HDR photo, doesn't mean its a good one. Try making a good HDR photo...something along the lines of valdores work, for example, and then tell me how easy it is. Sure its not rocket science, but it takes time to make it good. HDR is a "medium" or "effect" similar to a style of art. It's a cross between photo manipulation and photo enhancement... in a sense. But i really dont feel like typing anymore cuz i need to study for a frekkin midterm tomorrow.

    Ill end it with this, Arguing about art...
    "is like running in the special Olympics, even if you win your still retarded" -Carlos Mencia
     

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