Can Someone Point Me to Good HDR Photography?

Started Jul 7, 2013 | Discussions
mothman13
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Some from Arches National Park
In reply to REShultz, Jul 8, 2013

REShultz wrote:

Sites like 500px (front page, take a look!) are full of HDR photography. It nearly always looks cooked and in some cases ruins perfectly good pictures.

I've not seen it yet but I do read occasionally on forums that it can be "done right" or tastefully. It'd difficult to believe that a skillfully exposed image with a good camera can be improved upon with this technique, but I'd like to see some attempts.

I also (usually) don't like the over-cooked neon glow or "grunge" versions I see a lot, but to each their own.

Here are a few I took out in Arches National Park (Moab, UT) this past April.

Balanced Rock

My brother Jeff on the trail.

Like the close/far items here

And how about one where I took a series of 3-shot bracketed sections and stitched them together for an HDR-panorama? (warning: 16,535 x 5679 pixels, 19.3 MB)

Bracketed and stitched (small, 1920 x 659 pixels version)

Full, 19.3 MB file here

First time with the D7100, first time at the National Park, first time shooting HDR bracketed and first time using Photomatix Pro.

I think some of them came out pretty well, but in truth I concentrated WAY too much on bracketing and/or shooting for panorama stitching instead of simply framing a single shot for maximum effect.
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Draek
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No, I can't.
In reply to REShultz, Jul 9, 2013

It's not a technique I use myself and, like local contrast adjustment or sharpening (and unlike crowd favorite "shallow DOF"), it's a technique that, when done properly, is almost invisible to the eye.

Speaking of which, your post reminds me of a guy I met years ago who wouldn't believe the usefulness of sharpening as, in his opinion, all samples he'd seen had ugly haloes, and it was unnecessary anyways, provided a good lens was used in the capture. Try finding an experienced print-maker today who'd agree to such ideology.

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timo
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Re: Can Someone Point Me to Good HDR Photography?
In reply to REShultz, Jul 9, 2013

REShultz wrote:

Sites like 500px (front page, take a look!) are full of HDR photography. It nearly always looks cooked and in some cases ruins perfectly good pictures.

I've not seen it yet but I do read occasionally on forums that it can be "done right" or tastefully. It'd difficult to believe that a skillfully exposed image with a good camera can be improved upon with this technique, but I'd like to see some attempts.

I agree with the spirit of this question. But people seem to like it. When you review shots picked as 'winners' in galleries or competitions there is a huge emphasis on post-processing - there does seem to be a general preference for 'fake' drama, and a sense of artificiality. Particularly for landscape shots.

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Gene L.
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Re: Can Someone Point Me to Good HDR Photography?
In reply to REShultz, Jul 9, 2013

REShultz wrote:

Sites like 500px (front page, take a look!) are full of HDR photography. It nearly always looks cooked and in some cases ruins perfectly good pictures.

I've not seen it yet but I do read occasionally on forums that it can be "done right" or tastefully. It'd difficult to believe that a skillfully exposed image with a good camera can be improved upon with this technique, but I'd like to see some attempts.

Here is a set of photos made with HDR. Three shots each at +/- 2EV, using Olaneo Photoengine for processing and a bit of Photoshop retouching to correct for white balance issues.

http://www.ttl-biz.com/g/2011-06-15_seattle

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REShultz
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Re: Can Someone Point Me to Good HDR Photography?
In reply to timo, Jul 9, 2013

timo wrote:

I agree with the spirit of this question. But people seem to like it. When you review shots picked as 'winners' in galleries or competitions there is a huge emphasis on post-processing - there does seem to be a general preference for 'fake' drama, and a sense of artificiality. Particularly for landscape shots.

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Yes I totally agree and it's frustrating beyond belief. The only online gallery of which I am aware is National Geographic which places an emphasis on only minor editing and corrections. And even then, sometimes PP work is selected. But it's not the over the top stuff you see at 500px for example.

As for the thread, it's been very interesting. I greatly appreciate all of you who have been willing to put your work out in front of a "skeptic" and I've learned a good deal. Several of you have posted good work that I may not have pinned as HDR because it's so subtle. This seems to be the best way to apply the technique.

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Tan68
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Re: Can Someone Point Me to Good HDR Photography?
In reply to jon404, Jul 9, 2013

jon404 wrote:

... drunk or on LSD.

Don't take my Kodachrome away.

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texinwien
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How about these?
In reply to REShultz, Jul 9, 2013

With its speedy burst mode and IBIS, my E-M5 makes it pretty easy to capture handheld bracket series suitable for HDR-blending. I'll often take a 5-photo, 1EV series of a high DR scene, but more times than not, I'll end up using a single exposure rather than a blend.

I use the Lightroom Enfuse plugin to blend the exposures, and I generally prefer output that isn't immediately identifiable as HDR, like the following examples (not art, not technically perfect, just examples of HDR that, to me, doesn't appear terribly overcooked):

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Gerry Winterbourne
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Re: Can Someone Point Me to Good HDR Photography?
In reply to REShultz, Jul 9, 2013

REShultz wrote:

Sites like 500px (front page, take a look!) are full of HDR photography. It nearly always looks cooked and in some cases ruins perfectly good pictures.

The problem with "good" HDR - if by that you mean an image that uses multiple exposures to create a natural look - is that because they look natural no one advertises them as HDR.

Here are a few that I've done recently.  I emphasise "recently" because the latest versions of CS and LR have a very good HDR process (called HDR Pro) built in.  I used to use Photomatix but could never totally get rid of the cooked look; today I don't use it.

The cars used 3-shot (+/- 2EV) hand held to preserve detail in the reflections as well as shadows; the garden used 5-shot (+/- 2EV each time) on tripod because with the sun in the frame the natural exposure was effectively black except the sky.

Paradoxically, if you did want to create that over-cooked look you can do it without HDR software, from just a single shot.

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