Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Hate HDR?

HDR image © Rick Sammon
I'm teaching HDR at the California Photo Festival today.

As usual, I'll begin my presentation by suggesting to the audience that if they want to have some fun, do a Google search for "I hate HDR."

Hundreds of pages come up. Some posts are event long rants.

Most HDR haters hate HDR for two reasons:

One, they feel HDR is cheating (although Ansel Adams created HDR images and he was not called a cheater).

Two: they feel most HDR images are "over-cooked."

Here's my take on the topic:

One, why hate any form of creativity?

Two, why take the time to write about why you hate something?

HDR image © Rick Sammon
I do think that there are two main types of HDR images: realistic, above, and surrealistic, below.

HDR image © Rick Sammon
Often times, I think the subject suggests the HDR effect: realistic for landscapes, and surrealistic for artistic and really cool looking subjects.

© Rick Sammon
I go on to say that as much as I love HDR, it can ruin the mood of the scene, as illustrated by the HDR image at the left.

Finally, I say, "Follow your heart." Or as Ginger Baker wrote, "Do What You Like."

HDR image © Rick Sammon
I use several HDR programs and plug-ins. Check them out on my Save on Creative Plug-ins page and save a few bucks on some bundles.

My best HDR tips are on my iPad and Mac app: Rick Sammon's iHDR.

Explore the light,

P.S. For hands-on HDR learning (and loving) check out my HDR workshops.


Steve Gravano said...

Good post, Ginger Baker was not only a great musician, but a wise man. "Do what you like," should be every artist mantra.

Mike Nelson Pedde said...

Good post Rick!! I agree with you. While I'm not generally a fan if the over-tonemapped 'HDR look' it does have it's place and some people really like it. To each his/her own; the world's big enough for all of us...

Here's my perspective (with links to several other articles - I'll add this one as well):

Take care,

Through the Lens said...

You know what they say it's like Marmite love it or hate it. I agree some images really pop out in HDR and some images just don't work. But at the end of the day it down to what you like. Be creative and let others judge, but alaways be true to yourself.

Jason L. Eldridge said...

I love this post and agree with you. You can even see a similar post that I did here:

Thanks Rick! I look forward to this blog every day.

Libby said...

...Two, why take the time to write about why you hate something?...

Just about the best statement. There is tons of bad HDR out there, just like there is tons of bad photography. Problem with HDR is that some find a site like Stuck in Customs and they try to emulate with a push of a button. Doesn't really work that way.

Steve Dreyer said...

Rick - I guess you already know I am with you on this, but perfectly stated nonetheless...

Folks - consider Rick's workshops and/or tools. I have and they are great.

Tom Baker said...

This post always makes me smile. It's like saying I hate chocolate ice cream therefore chocolate ice cream is bad!

Taste is subjective and not absolute.Why some people forget that when it comes to HDR I have no clue.

Even if the HDR (or B&W, or abstract or or or) photo is "bad" to everyone but your mother - hey at least you made her happy. Everyone else can look elsewhere.

Fraser Ross said...

Great Post Rick. I agree with how HDR can spoil some shots. The shadows and silhouette that create mood can be lost by tonemapping. I do love HDR and as I develop and learn from photographers like you I am more aware of what does and does not make a good HDR opportunity. And just as important what is best not done as an HDR.

Anonymous said...

If people only ever went on about what they liked the world would be a terrible place.
What you like and don't are expressions of how you want the world to be, both are valid and necessary in a sensible world.

While I like HDR I must say that most of it looks unreal, having a computer game, cartoony feel to it.

MikeL. said...

I am new to HDR and am very much enjoying this creative form of photography. I could also say that I'm not a fan of the "overcooked" method of HDR and prefer the more natural look, although I don't mind it being a little on the artisic/surreal side every once in a while as well. I very much do NOT agree with people who just because they claim it looks fake or don't see it as a legitimate form of photography or don't like it period will write it off and say it should not be used at all or burn people at the stake who use it and that sort of thing. As some have said here, if you like it fine; if not, don't slam those of us who do use it and enjoy it and realize that it is and can be an important tool for photographers. I know that not everybody's going to like everything, but if you don't like something say it in a more constructive way and explain why it cannot be used. HDR is here to stay and if you don't get on the bandwagon you'll be left behind.

Darren Clark said...

Hi, my name is Darren and I'm guilty of creating really bad HDR images. I've created halos around trees, buildings, bridges, cars, farm equipment, Christmas ornaments and yes, even garden gnomes... sigh!

However, after taking the time to learn more about HDR and practicing a lot I'm slowly on the mend.

I actually have a love/hate relationship with HDR. I love how really good HDR images, but hate that I have always struggled with them. Biggest thing I learned was restraint. If it looks too overcooked then it probably is so I back off a little. I'm getting better, but that's what photography is all about isn't it? Learning new things, trying new techniques, trying to find a your own style, adapting to the environment.

I like what Rick said about the subject can suggest the HDR effect, and I think the subject can also suggest whether it's HDR or not. This is the fun part as photographers, rouge beings that we are, we get to make a choice...our choice!


Rob Sheppard said...

Great post, Rick! It is crazy about the haters at times -- anything they don't like, they don't want to just dislike, but they want to "kill" it. As you have nicely stated, HDR is a great tool to be used as appropriate.


Michael said...

HDR's kills puppies, true story.

Kevin Pepper said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly... I use HDR in a variety of photo styles that I take. I embrace the form of art. For those that are HDR naysayers... have a look at these two photos. They are HDR and you would not even know it.

Unknown said...

Kevin, those images have a "classic" HDR look to them.

Unknown said...

Great post, Rick. I guess HDR will always be a controversial topic. I don't think anyone could see the images here in this post and still say they don't like HDR. But there are some HDR images out there that are just way too overdone which give a bad rap for all HDR.

Chris Smith said...

Great post, Rick. I guess HDR will always be a controversial topic. I don't think anyone could see the images here in this post and still say they don't like HDR. But there are some HDR images out there that are just way too overdone which give a bad rap for all HDR.