HDR – Often Misunderstood and Under Appreciated

Somehow the HDR, High Dynamic Range, style of photography has gotten a bad reputation in the eyes of some people. Let me explain why I like and use HDR when I can. Now I must admit, I am an HDR novice so I am not speaking from a point of expertise.

Were you ever in the presence of a beautiful scene and you grabbed your camera, adjusted the settings, created a very nice composition and then pressed the shutter release to capture the beauty of what you were witnessing? I think most of us have been there. Have you ever gotten home and looked at that beautiful scene to realize that it doesn’t look as wonderful in the picture as it did in reality? I think many of us can identify with that as well.

One of the reasons for this is that our eyes are capable of capturing a far larger dynamic range of color and detail than a camera is able to record and therefore some of the beauty is lost to the technology. That is where High Dynamic Range helps me. By taking several exposures; one at the correct exposure, one at two F-stops over and one at two F-stops under, and then combining them, we are able to help the camera “see” what we see once the images are combined. We add highlights in the dark elements of the pictures as well as in the brightest parts of the picture. That is what HDR is to me.

Just like everything else, there are those who like to carry things to the extreme and they may over-process a picture and it may look gaudy to us, but that is their vision and that is what makes photography a creative medium. If you don’t like it, that is your prerogative, but let’s not paint all of HDR with the same brush.

Now…let me refer you to Blake Rudis who is considered and HDR expert because of his body of work. He just released a video (also embedded below), Are you an HDR Photography Hypocrite?, explaining the difference between HDR and Tone Mapping and what the relationship is to one another. He addresses those among our peers who might be HDR Hypocrites. I encourage you to watch this short video to understand this point of view and to see how HDR can help capture a scene as it appeared to the photographer.

As the video points out, if you do any processing on your images after they are captured, you are probably using some aspect of HDR even if you don’t think so!

If you liked the video and/or you would like to learn more about HDR photography Blake has created a worthy introduction course that he offers free to subscribers. You can check this out at his website:

Everyday HDR Thanks Blake!

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