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Archive for May 28th, 2009

HDR Opinions

Smoke falling from the Jesusita fire a few weeks ago.

Smoke falling from the Jesusita fire a few weeks ago.

There seems to be some very mixed opinions about HDR photography. I know some people who love (like myself) but others who feel that it either takes away from the photo or distorts it too much. As it is one of my three favorite photography techniques (the other two being long exposure and panorama) I sometimes waver between wanting to correct the exposure of an image and creating fantastical effects.

For example, the above photo at it’s best exposure was either blowing out the sky or under exposing the foreground. Sure part of the problem was that I was taking a photo directly into the sun as it diffuses through a large cloud of smoke, except that is exactly what I wanted to capture. I tried to correct it in iPhoto and Photoshop to fix the exposure levels, but I am not that skilled in Photoshop.

So I ran it through Photomatix Pro as a single RAW file. The resulting image, I feel, looks pretty natural without the cartoony or fantastical look of many HDR images. Of course I was using the HDR technology to correct the exposures of an image and not create those effects. And there is the strength of HDR, it can easily do both with the same set of photos. I often find myself either processing two versions or struggling to decide between the HDR extremes.

I still want to make a long night exposure HDR panorama. That would just be quite a cold process.

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