HDR Photography: Love It or Hate It?

Have you tried your hand at HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography? This post-processing method is still a relatively young art form. Synthesizing information from multiple exposures into one image, the result better simulates what our brains see when we look at what we’re photographing.

HDR Photography

Sample of photograph using HDR

Don’t back away waving your hands here, because the explanation sounds way more complicated than the process is. Basically, HDR is about constructing photographs that don’t sacrifice detail to the complex light of the real world. Modern photo-editing tools and digital cameras make it easier than ever before for even novice and hobby photographers to create HDR images. Even some smart-phone cameras are outfitted with HDR settings.

So, my real question for those of you who’ve tried HDR is this: Do you love it or hate it? There seems to be very little middle ground when we talk to our clients and other photography buffs. I think it’s a fascinating tool, and as with all tools, the person wielding can use it poorly or impressively. (I once heard a customer compare some of the HDR photos she’s seen to really loud bubblegum-pop music. “They just don’t even look real,” she said. “It’s like a magic show with a clumsy magician whose illusions aren’t believable.”)

I have certainly seen my share of that kind of HDR, where the photographer went a little, shall we say, nuts with the technique. But I can’t blame the tool for the way in which people are using it, and I have seen some really beautiful HDR photography that does what I think the technique was meant to do—capture images the way our brains do rather than the way cameras do. For that reason, I think HDR photography is fascinating. It has a potent power to evoke memory and emotion because the images look more like what made us grab the camera in the first place. So, maybe thanks to HDR we can finally share our vacation photographs without having to keep saying, “I guess you had to be there.”

What do you think?

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One thought on “HDR Photography: Love It or Hate It?

  1. […] to find the sweet spot for your equipment and conditions. Also, remember how we talked about HDR photography last week? If you’re trying to photograph a moonscape, bracketing together multiple exposures can […]

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