Experimenting with HDR photography

I’ve just begun to explore the world of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, so I decided to dedicate a whole day shoot dedicated to learning the basic techniques behind it all. The process involves taking a picture at different exposure times (all of the following pictures were taken at 5 different exposures) and afterwards combining them into a single image. This technique gives the pictures a whole different feeling. Both the dark and bright areas of the picture are better represented. A good example of this is the following picture Halestorm and I took inside the dome of Austin’s Capitol building:

Some photographers just think that HDR is the devil and that its cheating. I guess it kinda is, since you get pictures that are virtually impossible to get with a single aperture and shutter speed.

The problem related to HDR is that its becoming the latest photo customization fad because of the availability of the technology. On Photoshop CS5, theres even a button called “HDR toning” allowing you to apply the effect onto a single picture almost instantaneously and effortlessly.

I feel like the technique should be used when some areas of your image are really dark/light when compared to other parts. This is when a normal dynamic range just doesn’t cut it. Applying HDR to these situations will give you an image that more closely represents what the human eye would see naturally.

During my HDR investigation, I came across some really ugly and grossly overprocessed HDR images, which are why so many people despise the technique. I suggest giving Trey Ratcliff‘s stuff out. It’s amazing how vibrant HDR pictures can become if you do it right (and this guy definitely knows what he’s doing).

So some photographers swear by it, and others shun upon it. What do you think??

-ERG

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