HDR Photography - Photography or not?

Discussion in 'Landscape and Architecture' started by Robert L. Bishop, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. Robert L. Bishop

    Robert L. Bishop New Member

    Rewind 3 years. I had just acquired a Nikon FM, which I still love and use today, and started taking photos for the first time. I remember the joy I got from framing the shoot, setting the aperture, manually focusing my shoot and pressing the clunky trigger. I remember the first time I developed my first roll of film and the excitement that came with it. I remember the joy of discovering a photo I didn't think would come out well at first, but once I developed it, it wasn't actually that bad!

    Back then if you had offered me a go on a DSLR I would have preached film cameras to you, and probably would have accused you of being a cheat for using a DSLR. See for me, back then, photography was about framing the shot, setting the camera and shooting the photo, all manually of course. I loved that process. So the thought of something doing that process, automatically, was pointless. I had obviously missed the point!

    Fast-forward 3 years and I am sat in my front room reading up on HDR photography, probably the only effect that can’t be achieved (as far as I know) with film. I now get more out of photography than just framing, setting, and shooting. Photography is all about expressing myself, about having fun and enjoying the whole process, not just taking the photo. That is why I have come to understand and except that I should use as many different “tools” as possible, and experiment with all types of photography. Old and new.

    This brings me to my question, a question that’s probably been discussed a thousand times before. Is HDR photography real photography? Can I ask you another question? Does it really matter if it is or isn't?

    See for me I have really enjoyed the HDR experience. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not going to start preaching HDR photography to you. It‘s just another new and exciting type of photography I have discovered. I enjoyed going out and taking the photo (well, 3 to be precise), I enjoyed getting it home and “processing” it, and I have enjoyed the end result.

    At the end of the day, isn’t that what photography is really all about? To just enjoying it!?



  2. Kev Pugh

    Kev Pugh Well-Known Member

    Digital gives us the tools to add expression into our work, not that film doesn't but we have the POWER to make many changes in the digital format, if it weren't photography; then the ART would cease to exist. In my very humble opinion, the arts, whether it be drawn, painted, photographed, scanography, cyanotype or what ever is just another extension to the medium. WE should use every tool to the full, explore it and exploit it, for without it the world will be a sad place. So, yes HDR is photography, and Yes We should care and No it doesn't really matter as long as 'WE' enjoy it.........
  3. Davie Hudson

    Davie Hudson Well-Known Member

    for me it's whatever it takes to make the image better, it's all about the picture. Whilst i use the HDR effect i never take more than one shot
  4. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    These shots are lovely Luke, even the one with the back of my noggin tainting it!

    We have touched on this else where, but i'm please to have a thread where we can get our views pretty much set on this!
    The thing with HDR is there is there is two things that people might think about when its mentioned.
    The first is what you have done, using multiple images(or mutiple adjusted versions of the same image) to create a an image that is more like what the naked eye perceives.

    The second, is the arguably over processed look that some people achieve by pushing the limits of the software used that result in hyper detailed images like this


    I have no issue with either as such, as has been mentioned they are both perfectly acceptable methods to create images. If the artist chooses to call it photography then that is what it is! I would tend to agree with them...

    That said, in most instances I personaly don't find that hyper detailed image look very appealing, but that is my taste... as i have said else where, i find it unsettling on the eye, there is just too much to look at!

    Your images are really nice Luke, and in my view demonstrate a good understanding of how to use software to balance an image to look for the most part very natural!
  5. Dan Cattermole

    Dan Cattermole Dan Down - The Steampunk Womble

    Kev, I think you couldn't of put that any better! I'm not going to add anything too much to that. That's bang on!!
    I remember (not going to go to off topic) having a Ford Orion, only a 1991, HCS 1.3 pushrod engine (quite rare in it's kind) but as you can imagine, heavy on the wheel, slow, handled like a boat, and everything jut seemed like a bit of an effort to get from a to b. although a chore it was, there was always that great sense of satisfaction, pride, that I had drove that car to get to where ever I want, whenever. But at the end of the day, whether the 'destination' or (in photography terms) 'image' was successfully achieved, the 'route' or 'method' was always and only part of the desirable process. To me, a Nissan skyline GTR 3.0 V6 twin turbo is great, but so is the raw enjoyment of a of my Orion, that's driving! And HDR/tone mapping etc is also great, so is the unmanipulated result of film.... That is photography!! :) :) :)
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  6. Kev Pugh

    Kev Pugh Well-Known Member

    HDR doesn't have to be extreme IMO, question, is it or not a combined and manipulated image, I believe in pushing the boundaries and certainly accept that everyone has their individual taste, I think I have said elsewhere that Art is subjective and as such is open to interpretation from the viewer. But..................from a personal POV I consider that the limit has been reached when ghosting appears but then we go back to the pushing the boundaries. I stand by my earlier post it IS photography and it IS art.........

    [​IMG] YEs or No??
  7. Robert L. Bishop

    Robert L. Bishop New Member

    I have tried not to over process them. I like to try and keep my photo looking as natural as possible. The one of you head is my favorite. I think it looks quite natural, apart from the sky.

    Glad you like them. You know me, I'll be bored with HDR by next week and I'll be on to another type of photography :eek:
  8. Dan Cattermole

    Dan Cattermole Dan Down - The Steampunk Womble

    Those pics look great rob!! Truely stunning, so atmospherical. Shame Hamish's heads in the way! Haha! :p
  9. Robert L. Bishop

    Robert L. Bishop New Member

    Kev - I like you photo. Some might say it's over detailed. But I actually like the detail.
  10. Robert L. Bishop

    Robert L. Bishop New Member

    Thank you Dan
  11. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    If you look closely you can actually see how much I need a shave! ;)
  12. Kev Pugh

    Kev Pugh Well-Known Member

    Thanks Dan, but Doesn't HDR naturally induce detail? glad you like it though, even if it's not something I do very often, there is so much to do with photography and so little time to get it all in.....:)
  13. Ralph Thornton

    Ralph Thornton Well-Known Member

    Ansel Adams used film, right. But whence printed an large image he spent a ton of time burning in and dodging to get things the way he wanted them. To me he was using a form of HDR.

    I personally don't care for the hyper HDR images that I occasionally see but that is just my opinion. They are still art and they are photographs.
  14. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    Ansel Adams

    One of my favourite quotes
  15. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    I actually like that shot ... although i had to wait to see it on my laptop to decide!Its a shame about the shitty plastic chairs in the forground, but that isnt exactly a HDR issue!But also, that image doesnt look forced or over the top!I know what you mean about ghosting, or Haloing as i see it being the line, and i think i agree!But it is also where the light becomes unnatural that bugs me! like in my image of the truck, there is no way that the cab of the truck would be lit by that sky. that is something i see a lot, and when it brings out levels of details within those lit areas that is very unnatural the image doesnt sit well with me ... I can and am very forgiving of a lot of techniques, but for some reason, although i would still consider it photography ... i just dont like it!
  16. Thomas brookes

    Thomas brookes RPF Chief iPhone app Reviewer

    Oh!!! Thanks for the invite Hamish ! Luke nice to see you again love the pics. I often struggle with this after pulling and prodding an image so much in lightroom but I always revert to a simple explanation.

    A painting can be created with a brush a trowel a pallet knife a finger on any media and the end result is still considered painting
    A drawing can be created with a pencil a marker , charcoal, chalk, biro on any media and is still conciderd a drawing

    A sculpture can be chisled stone, welded metal , or carved wood and is still a sculpture...... You get the point

    In my opinion as long as an image was taken with any device no matter what the end result it's still a photograph

    Artist try to push boundaries in whatever genre they use. we however have technology on our side to create our own style and push our own boundaries that's how I see it.
  17. Dan Cattermole

    Dan Cattermole Dan Down - The Steampunk Womble

    Well said Tom ...... :)
  18. Robert L. Bishop

    Robert L. Bishop New Member

    Cheers mate. Glad you like them.
  19. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore Moderator

    Since HDR images are moments of light reflecting off a subject and recorded by a camera, I think yes, HDR is photography. And although I've never done any of it I like some HDR stuff. Those three images posted by Robert are very nice. The third one I especially like. I think it's a delightful image. (I don't think I would have guessed them to be HDR, though, since I associate HDR images with a kind of, er...hyper-illumination, to coin a hyphenated word.)

    I've seen a lot of these hyper-illumination type HDR images that I really like. But to like them I guess I have to be willing to suspend disbelief in a way, and recognize that what I'm looking at is someone's interpretation of a scene, purposely manipulated to heighten certain effects. Like a movie.

    I appreciate that HDR is not everyone's cup of tea, but if it comes out of a camera that's good enough for me.
  20. Robert L. Bishop

    Robert L. Bishop New Member

    My original question aside. What I consider makes a good HDR photo (which some have already pointed out) is the detail and balance of light. I try and keep the light as natural as possible and bring out has much detail as possible

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