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HDR Experiences

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One of those topics which are easily dividing. Strange is that opinions and comments are so polarized, sometimes arguing is with no reasonable arguments, just to have opposite "stand".

I am using it, not considering to react, response, reply to some people I know openly hating it and doing that loudly.

Of course, overHDRing photos is not the goal, the proper and correct is to find measure in it, I would consider it as equalizing the Bass and Treble having lowered Middle at sound "images". 

Using HDR with properly bracketed photos is not just helpful, it's a (mostly) solution, when there are two or more parts of the photo with extreme light / dark difference. Even when only two photos are being used for base of the HDR, it may make benefit. Sometimes, even good (properly balanced) RAW file cannot have all details in itself.

Of course, well known is that non-photographers prefer more (HDR) colors (there were and are even some "polls" for that) and some (or more than some) photographers hate (understatement) it. There are even "workarounds" making relatively similar results as HDR, like Luminosity Masks, still not automated fully (there are some Photoshop Actions and Plugins, not as simple as HDR ones). Luminosity masks are very useful at low light (night) images with some very strong light details on them but for most uses, adequately used HDR may complete the task of the balancing the light range.


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I think some people see photography as being a pure record of what you see.

Others see it more as an art form where you use various techniques to produce a pleasing or thought provoking image.

HDR is just another technique that can be used to do this. 

As an art, photography techniques might start with which lens you choose, do you use filters or extra lighting - Aperture, ISO and shutter speed, then continue into post processing.

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1 hour ago, thebeardedgroundsman said:

I think some people see photography as being a pure record of what you see.

What these 'photography purists' forget is that the human eye+brain is capable of capturing HDR images much better than any photography sensor can. What we truly observe differs vastly from the very limited dynamic range of 'default exposure' photos. The pigmented retina layer in our eyes actually provides us with locally adjustable exposure. It can act as a built-in graduated neutral density filter when looking at a brightly lit sky, or dim bright light sources in your field of view so you can still make out the background.

What's more, while visually scanning a certain view, your pupil constantly adjusts for best exposure. The brain then piecies all these little bits of properly exposed image together into a single - HDR - perception of what is actually out there. What a marvel of engineering, our human body.

I'm not promoting overprocessing images, not at all. Just saying that one shouldn't fall for the idea that (moderate) HDR post-processing renders images that are less true to human observation.

Edited by Pieter
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There was, is and will be commercial use of overprocessed, overcolored, overcontrasted photos, posterizing effect, eyecatching ones. That is related to attention, to get (a) product sold, but it may not be considered (just) as photo, maybe, better to say it's (part of the) industry.

Yes, exactly, human eyes (together with brain), being developed for thousands of years are capable of creating the ultimate view, we are getting most of information from outer environment(s) thru eyes. That need was initiating the development and it's still ongoing.

At other side, photos are artificial, being created using different methods, equipment, using software, hardware help; with learned processes, sometimes experiments.

Bright day environment, with clear bright sky, huge white clouds (upper part), and lot's of shadows (lower) trees, buildings (as example) is requiring the graduated neutral density filter to make some light balance, or few bracketed photos (preferably from tripod). Yes, enhancement of shadows may be done in postprocesing, but with less details and some noise. White clouds are not defined well, if  defined at all, if the exposure is not correct, it's also part of the problem.

There is very small (talking about freeware version) utility, Fusion Free, which may process multiple bracketed photos (2, 3, 5 or any reasonable number). It's using two methods, SUM and HDR, both with number of options, settings. It's having possibility to align photos before the process (very usable, but not magical, it may not be perfect for large camera movements between exposures, but for slight movements it's working really nice). Results are not bad at all, it's possible to save settings and photo result. It is not plugin, it's standalone small application, I was surprised with quality of end results. Yes, it requires some time to choose best options, but, that is not necessarily bad thing, it is part of the creativity work as well.

Of course, not saying that's perfect, best utility, I just using few, mostly "-2, 0, +2" (or similar, it's working even with one single photo) exposures, tried many times, got nice results.

There are tons of different utilities for helping to create nice looking HDR.

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