HDR and the Eye of the Beholder

Barcelona Alley L

All of the photos in this post were taken… created… by high dynamic range (HDR) jedi master, Trey Ratcliff.  These and many, many more photos are featured on his stunning website and blog entitled Stuck in Customs.  If you don’t know what HDR photography is or for that matter the role of Mr. Ratcliff in bringing it to the forefront, note that it’s 2011, Osama Bin Laden is no longer hiding and Whitey Bulger’s photo has been removed from your local post office wall.  Spend some time at Stuck in Customs as it will provide an exceptional overview of the technique and includes an industry best (bar none) tutorial on how you too can become a jedi, my young padawan.

Compared to Mr. Ratcliff, all other HDR experts on the web are mere pretenders.

The point of this particular post is: what do you think?

More photos after the jump…

Arts et metiers L

Internet fora are ablaze with arguments pro and con on HDR, a process by which 3, 5, 7 or even more bracketed shots are combined in order to expand the dynamic range within a captured scene.  The result can provide a cavernous amount of data from detail in the shadows to detail in the highlights, but spliced together, the result can be flat.  Follow-on processing boosts the color and tonality while photo artists tweak a variety of settings, including contrast and saturation.

Waiting on the Concert L

For some, the effect is spellbinding, mesmerizing.  Others describe the scenes are unreal, or worse… garish and even cartoonish.

London Tube The People Mover L

I mayself am a fan of HDR photography, though strive for a slightly more subdued effect.  Still though, I frequent Stuck in Customs and follow Mr. Ratcliff.  A nicer and more sharing photographer you won’t find.

But is this your cup of tea?


Posted by Rey

This entry was posted in Images and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to HDR and the Eye of the Beholder

  1. I think the shots you shared in this post are fantastic…all of them. I am a fan. I do some HDR work but I’m no pro at it by any means. I use Photomatix. I find HDR lends itself to improving poor light photos that otherwise would be worthless shots. I even like the grunge effect and high end treatments for some subject matter. Sometimes I see HDR that I think is overdone, but typically I am attracted to it.

  2. arthill says:

    NO! Friends don’t let friends do HDR. I just don’t like it.
    It’s not really photography. SOMETIMES it’s cool but like 5% of the time.
    And everybody’s doing it, including 98% of people who don’t do it well.

  3. The shots you have included are simply fantastic! Stuck in Customs is a fabulous site & I recently purchased 2 of Trey’s ebooks – they’re both terrific.
    I absolutely love HDR & see it as an entirely new art form, another wonderful way to combine photography with the far reaches of one’s imagination, but I think that some experience is required to do it well & it can be challenging to master…. probably why I don’t do as much as I’d like to…. 🙂

  4. Kara says:

    I LOVE Tery Ratcliff’s work! I read his blog all the time. I think all of these shots are phenomenal works of art. I think the old HDR/no HDR argument is kind of like the digital/not digital makes for ‘real’ photography argument. Photography is a form of art. There are many ways you can use photography, ‘straight’ shots being one of them, digital being one of them, HDR being one of them, SOOC only being one of them. As an art form, photography is only limited by our imaginations – and you can do it however you like to complete the vision for your image that you have in your head. If what you visualize your final product being is cartoonish or garish and that is what you want it to be, then do it! It is your art. If what you picture for a particular image is a more toned down version of HDR, then do that. It puts unnecessary (and unreal) limits on photography to say that one form or another isn’t ‘real’ photography. I imagine the Dutch masters would think that PIcasso’s art wasn’t ‘real’ painting or that modern dance wasn’t thought of as ‘real’ dance when it began. Art evolves. Photography evolves.

  5. Josh says:

    I’m amazed that there are still such strong feelings about HDR, and often from people that surprise me. If you use computer software to edit your photos, I’m not sure why you would have such strong feelings against HDR. Have you added a better sky because it is blown out? HDR would be a way to do that, and I would say a more accurate and honest way of capturing a scene. Rather than replacing the sky with something that wasn’t part of the scene, you combine different exposures to give you a better photo. I will admit that I’m often not a fan of the over done HDR, but I do really like what HDR can offer.

  6. Ed Spadoni says:

    What great comments from everyone. My take is that HDR is like a hairpiece: the best ones are so good, you don’t even know they’re there.

    Having said that, most HDR-worked photos go beyond reality and cross into the realm of art. And that’s absolutely fine, as long as it’s not portrayed as reality. I think Kara summed it up very well.

    But I also think Art’s “Friends don’t let friends do HDR” is is a bumper sticker waiting to be made!

  7. QBAPOLSKA says:

    These images are enjoying my eye – they are very positive

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