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UER Forum > UE Photo Critiques > Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR (Viewed 6271 times)
Ground State 


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Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< on 5/2/2015 12:54 PM >
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** Found a nice, long FAQ in the Photography section on 'Bracket and Blend' that I think I'll read first before asking the same redundant question. I left the original post here anyway, in case anyone wanted to comment. But I've got plenty to read.

I've been sincerely trying to cut down my HDR use in the past year - both a result of wanting to learn my in-camera functionality better, and from watching other users dump entirely directories of images into Photomatix, just to have it spit out perfunctory results that ironically kill creativity. But at the same time, I'm also into abandonment photography to see the details of the abandonments themselves, and not so much to take great photographs. Not to mention, I also have a shit camera that was a total of $500, with very limited performance.

Here are three bracketed photos from a recent scene, each (in my initial opinion) not good.



Low-Bracket
by Ground State Photos, on Flickr




Mid-Bracket
by Ground State Photos, on Flickr



High-Bracket
by Ground State Photos, on Flickr


The combined HDR follows, with some additional tweaking of highlights, a touch of contrast, and complete killing of the aqua channel and a portion of the blue (I tend to dislike blue in interior photos).



HDR_tonemapped
by Ground State Photos, on Flickr


I think this is the best result, especially for my camera. And every single HDR photo that I do is individually chosen as such because of crap source images. I would never batch edit. But what can I do differently? If I want to maintain outside details through windows, etc. without having them all blown out in white, but still have a decently lit interior, and achieve all this without firing the flash, what can I try instead?




[last edit 5/2/2015 1:46 PM by Ground State - edited 1 times]

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Ganesha 

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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 1 on 5/2/2015 3:47 PM >
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That looks good to me. The dark room with a window is a classic problem that you handled well.

I think it's an artistic choice how to deal with the limitations of camera vs. human perception of a scene that has a wide variation of lighting. Approximate what it looked like as closely as possible? Make every part of the scene as visible as possible? Pick one area to do well and sacrifice the rest? Convey how you felt when you were there? Play with it as an abstract and never mind reality? There are lots of ways to go. "Do something automated because I heard it's cool" isn't very artistic, but it's a start.




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DomVisuals 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 2 on 5/2/2015 4:09 PM >
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Good result, HDR can look nice when done correctly and not overused.




DJ Craig 

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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 3 on 5/2/2015 8:27 PM >
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I think you've done this very well! I would not have immediately known this was HDR looking at the final shot, and that's what you want.

My number one advice for HDR is to stack the images up in layers in photoshop, put a layer mask on each one (except the bottom one) and then manually paint in the areas from each image with the paint brush. Doing it by hand this way allows you to make sure the entire image is properly exposed without creating the "clown vomit" look. It does take a whole lot longer though.




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Indy47 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 4 on 5/4/2015 9:41 PM >
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It is pretty tough to make an HDR that looks natural. One suggestion (assuming you're shooting RAW) would be to take the mid bracket and pull the shadows down (may have to select the intended areas) and tweak the highlights to correct the area. If you had a nice image sensor (at ISO 100), low bracket and pulling up the shadows can be interesting as well.




skatchkins 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 5 on 5/4/2015 9:50 PM >
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When the natural light-gods line up, all is beautiful in the world.

When they don't, I have thrown a -, normal, and + into photomatix with a custom setting including desaturation, then slapped that creation into a Photoshop sandwich breaded by the normal layer and its clone. Top layer's style goes to "Color" and the meaty HDR to somewhere around 20% opacity. It's been a good baseline for me and no one's eyes hurt in the end.

I enjoy manually blending exposures as well though too since I am more in control.

I also hate my windows grayed by hdr. It's warm light I'm after. I enjoy blowouts (that came out wrong).



[last edit 5/4/2015 10:10 PM by skatchkins - edited 2 times]

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Collaro 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 6 on 5/20/2015 3:42 PM >
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I may as well show off one of my own. I didn't actually use HDR on this but the way my flash worked with the backlighting of the sunset made it inadvertently look edited. All I have is a Canon rebel T5. Sure it's a beginner's camera but I AM a beginner.

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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 7 on 5/20/2015 6:15 PM >
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Bahh, still don't like the last HDR. It's splotchy and random. I hate how Photomatix does such a random job, a computer simply can't judge what parts need to be corrected.

The first thing I notice is that the photo you exposed for the highlights (so the darkest one) still has blown-out highlights. You want to avoid that and have one photo with little or no blown out parts. Bracketing some more can't hurt but the following might be more relevant;

I think you are shooting in jpeg, right? See if you can lower the 'contrast' setting in your camera permanently. The contrast in these seems to be a bit high. You can always increase contrast with Photoshop but can never decrease, so stay on the lower side. Lost highlights are lost forever. Better yet, shoot RAW if your camera is able.

I'm glad you found the bracket & blend thread, that's the way to go in my opinion. I tried it with your three photos (hope you don't mind!) and it comes out decent. But in the end, your source photos simply aren't very good. I hope this helps, good luck






[last edit 5/20/2015 9:33 PM by sirpsychosexy - edited 2 times]

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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 8 on 5/21/2015 5:20 AM >
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Posted by skatchkins
When the natural light-gods line up, all is beautiful in the world.

When they don't, I have thrown a -, normal, and + into photomatix with a custom setting including desaturation, then slapped that creation into a Photoshop sandwich breaded by the normal layer and its clone. Top layer's style goes to "Color" and the meaty HDR to somewhere around 20% opacity. It's been a good baseline for me and no one's eyes hurt in the end.

I enjoy manually blending exposures as well though too since I am more in control.

I also hate my windows grayed by hdr. It's warm light I'm after. I enjoy blowouts (that came out wrong).


I always ask. Who gives a Shit what's outside the window. White is ok with me.




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sirpsychosexy 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 9 on 5/21/2015 10:22 AM >
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No one does, but in terms of dynamic range it's more faithful to what the eye will see. That's what I go for. In the end it's another matter of taste.




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tiffers 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 10 on 6/9/2015 9:05 PM >
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I'm not sure what kind of camera you have, but both Nikon and Canon have certain viewing options (highlights in Nikon) that allow you to see blown out highlights. This preview option is helpful for HDR. If nothing is blown out, then you've properly exposed all images and it's ideal for true HDR. I know when I do them, my darkest exposure is almost too dark to see, the shadows still have detail, however. Just like the highlights should be. If you've lost detail, adjust your exposures. I'm not sure if you do autobracketing or manual.

Also, are you doing handheld? The chair and lamp edges looks soft. I would suggest a tripod, unless you're already using one.

I advise against Photomatix' presets. Despise them. There are SO MANY sliders and tools to use. I really like it, though I feel like Topaz may be a better option? Photomatix isn't too terrible. I prefer it to Photoshop's HDR nonsense.



[last edit 6/9/2015 9:18 PM by tiffers - edited 2 times]

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flySparro 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 11 on 6/23/2015 5:01 PM >
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Posted by tiffers
Both Nikon and Canon have certain viewing options (highlights in Nikon) that allow you to see blown out highlights.

Nailed it.

I use this function for a lot of exposures. Night, wildlife, interior, film set behind-the-scenes... It's really helpful.

If your camera can capture raw images, do that and play with it in Lightroom or Photoshop Raw instead. Same results, way less work on site, and no terrible HDR look to the photos. With 12-14 stops of dynamic range on modern cameras, HDR is functionally a poor use of time, IMO. See this HDR vs RAW comparison I did two years ago:






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siper 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 12 on 6/24/2015 12:10 AM >
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@Ground State - if I send you my book for free, will you read up on 32-bit HDR and report back?

I was in the same situation a couple of years ago. I hated my work but it wasn't HDR's fault. I just wasn't using it correctly. Some may say that I still push the boundary of "acceptable use" but this is where I'm at these days:




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General Zod 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 13 on 6/24/2015 4:38 AM >
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I never liked HDR. (Siper, yours looks pretty cool, though) And I was always on the side of those who make fun of it's typical look.

glowing spaces and lines
extreme details
unnatural light or contrasts
over-saturation

same crap every time


The criticism is well-deserved at this point. Years ago, I made a Facebook group against HDR and it's still up with several dozen members, but I don't really bother to maintain the page. I also made up a post claiming that HDR is to photography what Auto-Tune is to the music industry. Yeah... people got pretty upset about that one.

My two cents, though:

In regards to post-processing there is a difference between people who apply one big uniform HDR filter to their images, versus those who tastefully edit the HDR in select ways, only applying it to select parts of the picture plane.. Just like one would do with other types of filters.

And back on that glowing look crap, again... Why bother adding glow to an HDR, unless you want people to say "NICE HDR!"? It's not like people can't spot that cheesiness from a mile away. I can literally spot an HDR in an un-opened thumbnail the size of my own actual thumbnail.





[last edit 6/24/2015 4:42 AM by General Zod - edited 2 times]

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siper 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 14 on 6/24/2015 3:44 PM >
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Posted by General Zod
I never liked HDR. (Siper, yours looks pretty cool, though) And I was always on the side of those who make fun of it's typical look.

glowing spaces and lines
extreme details
unnatural light or contrasts
over-saturation

same crap every time


The criticism is well-deserved at this point. Years ago, I made a Facebook group against HDR and it's still up with several dozen members, but I don't really bother to maintain the page. I also made up a post claiming that HDR is to photography what Auto-Tune is to the music industry. Yeah... people got pretty upset about that one.

My two cents, though:

In regards to post-processing there is a difference between people who apply one big uniform HDR filter to their images, versus those who tastefully edit the HDR in select ways, only applying it to select parts of the picture plane.. Just like one would do with other types of filters.

And back on that glowing look crap, again... Why bother adding glow to an HDR, unless you want people to say "NICE HDR!"? It's not like people can't spot that cheesiness from a mile away. I can literally spot an HDR in an un-opened thumbnail the size of my own actual thumbnail.





I think it boils down to the fact that new photographers just don't know. They don't know how to perform selective edits, they don't have an eye for what looks good yet, and they don't know that HDR is generally hated by many seasoned photographers. I know all of this from personal (lack of) experience. For the first year, I thought Photomatix'd HDR looked cool because of the vivid colors, I didn't know what halos were or why they were bad, and it was so easy to do with Photomatix. I can't even look at my earlier work without cringing.

Again, I don't think the blame should fall with HDR, it belongs to the user who is misusing it. The funny thing is, non-photographers fucking love Photomatix'd HDR. So the question is: whose respect do you want? Photographers who will burn you at the stake for having over-processed HDR or the non-photographers who will potentially be buying your prints? It's a question I haven't answered but think it's interesting to ponder.



[last edit 6/25/2015 1:54 PM by siper - edited 1 times]

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skatchkins 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 15 on 6/24/2015 3:59 PM >
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Posted by siper
The funny thing is, non-photographers fucking love Photomatix'd HDR.


This is an interesting truth. I find it with landscape people and jeep racing people as well.




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tiffers 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 16 on 6/25/2015 2:58 AM >
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IMO, if you can tell at quick glance it's HDR...you're doing it wrong...




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General Zod 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 17 on 6/25/2015 3:01 AM >
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Posted by tiffers
IMO, if you can tell at quick glance it's HDR...you're doing it wrong...


+1 lol. so true.




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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 18 on 6/25/2015 12:15 PM >
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Posted by siper
Again, I don't think the blame should fall with HDR, it belongs to the user who is misusing it. The funny thing is, non-photographers fucking love Photomatix'd HDR. So the question is: who's respect do you want? Photographers who will burn you at the stake for having over-processed HDR or the non-photographers who will potentially be buying your prints? It's a question I haven't answered but think it's interesting to ponder.



If you're processing methods are being influenced by the desire to gain respect of others, you're doing it wrong. Process images that YOU enjoy looking at and be yourself. If you like clown vomit HDR, subtle HDR or none at all that's your decision as an artist.




siper 


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Re: Because We Absolutely Fucking Hate HDR
< Reply # 19 on 6/25/2015 2:03 PM >
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Posted by Intrinsic


If you're processing methods are being influenced by the desire to gain respect of others, you're doing it wrong. Process images that YOU enjoy looking at and be yourself. If you like clown vomit HDR, subtle HDR or none at all that's your decision as an artist.



Totally agree. One aspect of this though is that those decisions will position you differently in the eyes of your peers. For example, clown vomit will get you burned at stake among photographers. Taking shit photos on a potato will get you more respect than clown vomit. So yes, create photos you're happy with but everyone should understand WHY they're getting the responses they're getting if they abuse HDR. They should also understand it's not HDR's fault...it's theirs.



[last edit 6/25/2015 2:03 PM by siper - edited 1 times]

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