HDR Critique...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by acearchie, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #1
    Hi there!

    Well I have been experimenting with HDR on the Canon 10D and using Photomatix Pro.

    These have been created for a school photo competition!

    I have really been going to a surreal look so please don't comment on how unrealistic they look!

    The sky hasn't really been that great at the moment so I haven't been able to properly try this out!

    Here is the link to the Flickr with 11 pics!

    Any feedback is really great. Good or bad! I am very keen to improve and if anyone wants to share any settings they use it would be very helpful!

    Thanks
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    Even if the goal is to get the HDR effect, imo you've overdone it in some of these shots to the point where it actually starts to take away from the picture as a whole. I liked "Sweets" and "Nice Scenery" but the others are fairly boring subjects, and HDR doesn't add anything to them.
     
  3. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #3
    Cheers.

    I don't like most of them to be honest. The light around school is absolutely awful (the horrible yellow light) and it seems to ruin half the shots and being only a novice I'm not very good at correcting it!

    I know I'm being picky but several of them look a lot better blown up. From the thumbnails and small medium size they seem pretty ugly! (Study HDR being an example)

    What sort of subjects would you recommend for HDR?
     
  4. emorydunn macrumors 6502

    emorydunn

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2006
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    #4
    On fist glance the HDR effect is way overdone, and even if you're going for a surreal look I think that they are still overdone. Personally I think you should tone them down and go for more of a 'grunge' look instead of the over-the-top over-saturated look that you have.

    Most of your photos have the HDR effect done to the point that it misses what HDR is supposed to be for, adding dynamic range to a scene. Your photos have very little dynamic range (no pure whites and no pure blacks) and look rather flat to me.

    But, if I had to suggest one thing to help your photos: turn down the saturation. They have no point of interest since it's all colour all the time everywhere. My eye gets tired after looking at them for too long.
     
  5. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #5
    Cool! I think some of the problems with my current pictures is that the whole shot is pretty much perfectly exposed to start off with meaning that the HDR doesn't do that much?

    Thanks for the tips! They are very helpful and should help me with my next set of pics!
     
  6. NathanCH macrumors 65816

    NathanCH

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #6
    The best HDR is when you don't even notice it's HDR. But obviously, like you said, you've just started out so I, nor should anyone, expect any masterpieces. I've been playing around with HDR for a while now and it's still very hard to get a perfect HDR effect without making it look surreal. It's certainly harder than it looks!

    Keep it up though. It's fun to play around with images. And making surreal images is a lot of fun, but unfortunately they're not as interesting to other people because it's so overdone.

    Good HDR:

    [​IMG]
    Copyright © Maciek Duczynski


    Bad HDR:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Jenavive macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2010
    #7
    Hi. Actually, for being your first HDR, I like them. In fact, I completely disagree with miles. The sweets and nice scenery are two of my least favorite. The sweets doesn't offer up a good setting being that there aren't a lot of shadows and light that HDR can bring out. With the nice scenery, there is a bit too much motion (blur) in the clouds. The clouds and block version is better.

    With HDR, your first photo is supposed to be perfectly exposed. Then you have under and over exposed versions that are all merged in the software.

    Main school 2 is my least favorite because of the halo/ghosting you have over the building. Try playing around with the Strength - I'm not at home and I don't remember what the photomatix controls consist of - and there is another one, intensity? that you can choose between light - medium - high. If you lower those values, then you shouldn't have as much of the way overdone effect.

    I do agree you might want to relax a little on the saturation, but again, I think they are nice. The main thing, imo is finding a good source scene. Here is a website you might like. They go for a more surreal look as well.


    http://talkephotography.com/p431818424/h3aee9c21#h2e78503e

    Nathan has used some good examples. I think the most important advice when it comes to photography is to just get out and take more and more photos. A book that helped me out was "Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography" by Ferrell McCollough. Most libraries should have it. Good luck to you!
     
  8. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #8
    The candy picture is not bad from a technical standpoint, although it seems like the color accuracy is off (example, the red skittles package, is not the correct red). However as a composition it is just a snapshot of some candy.

    It is difficult to make a compelling photograph when you go at it by trying to employ a particular technique. The image you are trying to create should dictate the technique used, not the other way around. It is commonly said that HDR cannot save a bad picture and it's true. You have to visualize what you want from the picture first, then take advantage of your repertoire of skills to make it reality.

    Generally speaking, however, HDR imaging (and realize that HDR and tone mapping are two separate things) is really only useful when the scene or image contains more dynamic range than can be correctly captured in one shot. Tone mapping can be used on any image, although its application needs to be carefully controlled to achieve the desired final result.

    Ruahrc
     
  9. designguy79 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Michigan
    #9
  10. emorydunn macrumors 6502

    emorydunn

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2006
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    #10
    That's exactly right. HDR isn't a technique to be used on every photo or even on most photos. Really isn't much less a post-processing technique than it is a camera technique. The scene has to be right for it to work.

    What you need to look for is highlights that will be blown out and shadows that will loose detail on a normal proper exposure, then you expose for the highlights, the shadows and a middle exposure and blend them together.

    And as was mentioned, the best HDR is one where you don't know it's an HDR.
     
  11. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #11
    Sorry guys,

    I never came back and said thanks for all the help!

    I have been bogged down with school work and haven't had much time for the forums! Over half term I will try and have a good read of all the articles provided!

    Thanks for the tips!
     
  12. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #12
    Here is my latest HDR.

    Still to surreal for everyone? It's much more exciting than any of the original 3 pics I still feel!

    Thanks

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #13
    HDR, you say? I barely noticed for the spectacular 'meteor shower' of dust spots...
     
  14. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #14
    Well I was never suggesting it wasn't hdr. I was previously crticised for the pictures being too surreal. I am fairly new to this and getting rid of dust spots is a lower priority than getting ok looking images.

    Atleast at this stage...
     
  15. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #15
    Well, it's what you like that matters...


    Again, it's your choice, but some might say that a snowstorm of dust spots (I've honestly never seen so many :eek:) will make your pix look anything but "OK"...
     
  16. designguy79 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Michigan
    #16
    Personally, I still think it is obviously an HDR toned mapped image.

    Why exactly do you think the subject needs HDR tone mapping? It seems to me that nothing in your composition right now calls for the technique.

    Also, is there anything interesting you can add in the foreground here to give some depth? Maybe a tree, some big rocks, something...

    I think the biggest things to remember is that "HDR" doesn't make boring pictures good and is only useful in extreme lighting cases. And in those cases, you may find "exposure blending" will provide more realistic results than tone mapping.

    Have fun!
     
  17. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #17
    Thanks for the comments.

    I don't know what I'm looking for in the pictures with the hdr effect.

    Today was horribly overcast and the original pictures were simply dull. The hdr tonemapped image gives the castle some atmosphere and makes for a more interesting picture in my opinion.

    I think what I'm striving for is some nice pictures on some nice sunny days however since I don't have the sunny days I'm finding some ways to spice up the images and make it something I want to keep.

    If you have some time would you want to look at my original normally exposed shot and see if there is anything else I could have done to make it more exciting?
     
  18. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #18
    There's always some trick to make a pic more 'exciting': you can saturate the colours, you can do HDR, you can find some plug-in to make a photo look more like a watercolour painting. But, IMO, there's only one thing that really adds magic to a photo... and that's light. There's just no substitute... ;)
     
  19. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #19
    I know exactly what you mean which was why I was so looking forward to this trip, (I'm currently in Kenmore in Scotland, well away from the school where I normally live) However, as you can see in this picture the clouds are just filling the sky. There was really no break in it today and hopefully tomorrow that will be different!

    I saw your link to the photographic workshops that I assume you run (or have at least done!) what are you tips for the photos when the scenery and most importantly lighting is not very good?

    Thanks
     
  20. TH3D4RKKN1GH7 macrumors 6502a

    TH3D4RKKN1GH7

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    #20
    This is a pretty nice use of HDR cause as you can see in the original image the shot is quite flat and dull and the new one is much better.

    Original:
    http://s174.photobucket.com/albums/w120/crazydude82/?action=view&current=IMG_1889-.jpg

    HDR:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jersey4life/4290902131/

    I just say keep practicing not necessarily the HDR, but composition, picking interesting subjects, nailing exposure you know the basic stuff. Some of the problems I found in the images were just subject/composition stuff, then the HDR on top was like YIKES. But I liked the redone cloud and block one (the original clouds weren't aligned right it seemed) and the one of the school, though there was a lot of noise in the image.

    I'm by no means a pro or anything just adding my two cents. Love to see more of your stuff as you progress.

    Cheers!
     
  21. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    #21
    Even in Scotland, you see sunlight at some point on most days. I'm in the Lake District, the wettest place in the UK, and there's plenty of sunshine. It's just that when it rains, it can rain for days. :)

    It's light - infinitely variable - that makes or mars a pic. When the conditions are good, I try to make the most of them; when they're not, I probably don't take any pix at all.

    You have to sort out the aspects of photography that are in your control - where, to go, when to go, the equipment you take, the time you have available - and those that aren't. You can't control the light or the weather, but you can learn to recognise when the light might get 'interesting', so you're ready when it happens.

    I enjoy the good pix I take, and don't fret about 'the ones that got away'. I try not to take too many dull pix, because, as you're finding, there's no genuine way of 'spicing them up'. A dull pic is still a dull pic, no matter what you do to it.

    If you have to take pix on dull days, then have a plan B in mind: it's a good time to photograph waterfalls, in woodland, outdoor portraits (no distracting shadows), and, of course, interiors...

    Don't see light as a problem; see it as an opportunity... ;)
     
  22. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #22
    the purpose of HDR is to bring the dynamic range of the scene into the dynamic range of the camera. if the lighting is flat, HDR changes nothing - the scene was already completely recorded, and tone mapping gives just gives you another flat image.

    overcast lighting gives you flexibility in making your own tones. use levels, curves, masking, contrast adjustments, dodging/burning, or whatever you need to manipulate the midtones and restore color and tonality.
     
  23. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #23
    Ok So I went out today with the task of trying to create an HDR Picture that was more exciting than the normally exposed version and not too surreal.

    The clouds were out again however I think you will agree that the HDR versions of the pictures posted below are superior to the Normally exposed versions?

    Thoughts?


    Non HDR

    [​IMG]

    HDR

    [​IMG]

    Non HDR

    [​IMG]

    HDR

    [​IMG]
     
  24. NathanCH macrumors 65816

    NathanCH

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2007
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #24
    Again, it's not HDR if you're just editing one image in photoshop.

    You should really consider cleaning your lens or sensor. Looks like you sneezed on it.
     
  25. acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #25
    No it is not photoshopped from one picture but from 3 using bracketing on the camera.

    I believe the spots you are referring to are rain on the UV filter. (Well not rain but drizzle) as it has been a constant drizzle since I have started taking these pictures in Scotland.

    Here are two more that I took today...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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