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Final Analysis 11 Feb - HDR

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by PhotoEcosse, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I don't always agree with what Roger Hicks writes in Final Analysis but I certainly agree with almost everything he wrote about Nina Leen's photo this week. In particular, I wholeheartedly concur that this is an image which benefits hugely from being in mono rather than colour - for all the many reasons Roger gives.

    My point of issue is, in a sense, not related specifically to the photograph under discussion but, rather, to Roger's odd use of the phrase "the curious unreal hyperreality of HDR".

    HDR should not produce anything curious or unreal - hyperreality or otherwise - but, instead, should produce a more accurate rendition of reality than can be otherwise achieved using the current state of digital camera sensors.

    Of course, the term High Dynamic Range is frequently misused to refer to either the processing method or the final photograph. That is wrong. The phrase should be applied to the original scene being photographed. The process or the result should, more accurately, be called "Compressed Dynamic Range".

    Think about it - in a so-called "HDR image", the whites are not any whiter than normal and the blacks are not any blacker than normal. The dynamic range is no greater than allowed by the printing process or viewing screen. What using so-called HDR processing to combine several images taken with a range of exposures achieves is a more normal picture with the tones between the extremes smoothed out - much as our eyes would see them. In other words, a more accurate representation of our reality.

    OK. I know that many people (but surely not Roger) were poisoned against HDR by the passing fad, a number of years ago, to grossly misuse the software to produce grotesque images that appeared to have been over-sharpened and over-saturated to the extent that perverted reality and gave the impression that the photographer was high on hallucinogenic drugs.

    But to dismiss so-called HDR processing on the basis of such perverted use, rather than acknowledge it as a legitimate tool to achieve a better representation of reality, is a bit like dismissing the whole art of photography on the basis of the output of a few Soho pornographers.

    When, occasionally, I use those techniques, my principal indicator of success is that no-one viewing my finished print should be able to tell that I did use "HDR".

    Going back to the photo in the article, making a colour version would have necessitated "HDR" because, as Roger appropriately alludes, the highlights would look hopelessly blown and the shadows hopelessly blocked in a straightforward colour image. That is one of the reasons that mono is more effective in this case.

    Apologies if this discussion goes over the heads of the apparent majority of Forum users who do not read the magazine and cannot appreciate the context within which it arose. You really should mend your ways!!
  2. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    By 'eck - I feel like I've just been told off...and I'm an AP subscriber!

    Cheers, Jeff
  3. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Not sure HDR is delivering "reality", because what your eye sees is a brain-altered reality, with different exposure for each part of the scene rather than an overall exposure. So, when well done, HDR is as unreal as what you think you see. When not well done it is a truly awful distortion.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    I like HDR. It's just VERY easy to overdo.

    Tonal range is necessarily compressed in many photographs: the brightness range of a print rarely exceeds 128:1 but many scenes are as high as 1,000,000:1, with important detail limited to maybe 10001. As well as contrast control, dodging and burning can play an important part. The trick, as you say, is to make it look natural.

    Consider, next, hyperreal painting, especially airbrushing. Things can look more real than real; unrealistically so. I think it was Esme Weatherwax who said, "Things that look like things often look more like things than things. Well known fact."

    This is why I used the term I did; which I do not regard as odd at all. If the same picture had been in colour, with the same ability to see into the shadows, it would, indeed, have suffered from hyperreal unreality.

    Those poor benighted or impoverished souls (I sympathize very much with the latter) who do not subscribe to AP can see the picture here. If the page comes up as text, without the image, just double click on the words in the middle of where the picture should be. You can just delete "start shopping" if that comes up.


  5. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    If you had studied psychology and symbolic interactionism (and I confess that it is many years since I did), you might approciate that "reality" is, indeed, a personal construct rather than an absolute state. So how your brain translates what your eye sees is, in fact, reality to you. (and yes, I know, there is also a social construction element in determining one's reality)

    So let me slightly rephrase what I wrote earlier. Properly employed, so-called HDR processing will allow the production of a photograph which more closely corresponds to what the photographer believes he saw.
  6. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    If you stuck to what was actually written, rather than what you assumed I meant, you would realise that's what I said.

    But we do agree in the end.
  7. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I tend to think HDR means overdoing it for deliberate effect and that exposure blending means appropriately smoothing the tonal range as described above.
    Roger Hicks likes this.
  8. cliveva

    cliveva Well-Known Member

    when I view a scene the range of light I can see is about 20 EV, average for a "good" camera, around 12-13 EV, so it can not properly expose the 7-8 EV, I could see. HDR fills that gap. Great for sunsets, etc. As above, Less Is More. :D

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