When was the last time you looked at an HDR photograph and thought, “wow, that’s just how it looked when I was there!”?
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably a photographer who loves HDR. In case you’re not familiar with this wildly popular photography post-processing phenom, here’s what it is and what it looks like when it goes wrong and how to do it and how to do it on your iPhone and who practices it well. So I’ll ask again, has HDR gone too far?
Did your (very) human eye see the scene you photographed and post-processed the way your HDR image looks? Not likely. The human eye doesn’t see extreme detail in the distance, and it doesn’t see heightened elaborate color in the middle ground, and even in the near ground, the human eye misses a lot. Have you post-processed your ordinary photograph into something that looks dynamic and dramatic, but completely misses the point of what you really, truly, experienced if you had been aware when you were there? TWEET THIS
Nature offers us so much to behold, without extraordinary optical tricks. Offering viewers a post-processed world of so-called “high dynamic range,” while trendy and buzzworthy, belittles the experience we can have one-on-one with what we see through the viewfinder, and what we, as imagemakers, can share with those who aren’t there. HDR is false, it’s fake, and it’s not real. It’s cool, it’s trendy, it’s dazzling and engaging, it’s a moneymaker for its apostles, but it is most definitely not the decisive moment for which we admire Henri Cartier-Bresson, who worked without the gadgets and the high-tech attractions of today’s post-processing world, and who inspired so many of us to pursue the truth in photography in the first place. ♣
What do you think about HDR? I’m a fan of Lightroom, formerly a fan of Photoshop, so no stranger to post-processing—you can see how I post-process my photographs without HDR at my Art + Photo Shop.