How do you feel about HDR? Like it? Love it? Hate it? Maybe you’re asking what HDR is? Generally HDR refers to High Dynamic Range photography.
HDR has practical applications. It is great for some situations where lighting is a challenge. Whenever I sense a great imbalance of light and dark in a scene I tend to set up for bracketing and shoot 5 exposures at 1ev apart, as a default. However, as you learn to judge the dynamic range of a scene by using your light meter, you can further tune your bracketing to capture more detail.
My top applications of HDR include:
- Early and late day landscape photographs
- Scenes of high contrast
- Generally challenging lighting conditions
- Weather buildings
- Urban decay
- Items displaying a strong patina
- Low color contrast scenes
- Otherwise uninteresting subject matter
There are a handful of commercial photographers including Dave Hill who produce dramatic images that are often labeled as HDR, though he attests that his images are not at all HDR. Check out his work at www.davehillphoto.com. His work is absolutely amazing, but he attributes the surreal look to his proprietary lighting techniques and post processing.
I think HDR can be great, but in many cases it produces images more vivid than you remember. Some people say that HDR replicates what we see, but that’s only partly true. We can see a wider dynamic range than our cameras, but we still don’t see in HDR.
Here are some of my own early HDR photos: