HDR Photos - your opinions

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Note: I realize that I do not know much about photography. I recently have been using a heavy DSLR Canon T3 I've had forever and had a friend show me how to Bracket Photos on the camera. He also showed me how to use the basics of Photomatix - a program for putting together HDR photos. A lot of these photos are enhanced through HDR as you can probably tell.

I just wanted to know your honest opinions - for those of you who know more about photography than me. What are your feelings on HDR. I love the fact that you can pull out details when shadows start to creep in and ruin shots. But I feel like my amateur piddling with this feature and this most likely basic program in working with it results in images that are just too saturated on colors. It makes the shot look unbelievable. Granted, there is a filter that is more "natural", but when you look at it compared to the "enhanced photo", sometimes the enhanced photo is just to nice to put in the recycle bin. So I usually save one of each just to compare.

I just posted a thread that featured about 1/2 and 1/2 "regular shots" and "bracketed photos" run through a HDR editing program (Photomatix).
You can view them here: Booth Lake Basin Trip

But where do I take it from here? I'm looking at getting a better Point and Shoot with more megapixels and better image quality. It will probably have a built in HDR feature or I can play with bracketing on my own - or will I even want to use it with a better camera? What are your thoughts on this feature and its use (and over-use).
 

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Brendan S

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My opinion is it can be a great tool for high DR scenes, but if you can tell that it's HDR then it's not really being used right. Highlights should still be highlights and shadows need to still be shadows. Here's an outstanding read from Ming Thein on why it can look so bad and how our eyes compare to a camera sensor with regards to high contrast scenes:
Demystifying HDR, the zone system, and dynamic range
 

Rockskipper

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I really don’t care for it at all, though I do sometimes admire the skill behind the shot itself. To me, it makes everything look like a marketing catalog unless it’s very very subtle. I prefer photos that seem realistic.
 

regehr

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IMO pushing the HDR very far at all makes the photos look very 2010 and is to be avoided. Otoh a very light touch can be nice, occasionally.
 

tennistime99

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I try my best to keep photos from looking too "hdr-ish" with halos and weird colors, but that's just personal preference. Photography is an art, and as such it's up to you how you envision the picture to look. Go nuts, have fun with it and you'll figure out a process that gets the results you like.

Trey Ratcliff is probably the most known HDR photographer I've run across, having an HDR photo hung in the Smithsonian. He has free tips and recommendations on his blog.

https://www.stuckincustoms.com/

Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk
 

IntrepidXJ

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Get the HDR out of your system now while you are just starting out. Most photographers I know started playing with HDR early in their photographic journey and look back at their early photos now and cringe....myself included!

I'm too lazy to bracket photos these days and can usually get all the dynamic range I need from one RAW file.
 
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gnwatts

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If you bracket your shots, say 3/4 stop under and 3/4 stop over exposed, taking a shot every 1/3 stop, I usually find an image that will give me what I want. This is obviously the process with HDR, except I don't combine them. If you really learn your software and know your camera, HDR is not needed IMO. Unless you like the look, which I don't. I like to make an image from one shot, much more satisfying for me.
 

SteveR

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Randy and gnwatts mirror my thoughts. I played around with HDR briefly, but couldn't be bothered to pursue it further.
OP- I looked at your trip report and don't see anything with the "HDR look" that many have overused, but to my eyes, many of the photos look very "flat".
 

Rockskipper

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I agree with Steve above. Some of the last look a bit HDRish, but it's not overdone. But a few do look flat, like there's not much depth. Did you shoot at a slow aperture? That will increase the depth of field. Other than that, they're really nice - good composition and nice color, etc. I especially like the first ones with all the fall color.
 
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Wanderlust073

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Didn't see any of the pics in your post that looked like the old, horrifically garish HDR shots that have permanently scarred everyone's inner art fan. Your app must use a much softer touch than HDR apps used to. I do agree with the 'flat' comments. It's pushing the shadows which is lowering the overall contrast.
 

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Get the HDR out of your system now while you are just starting out. Most photographers I know started playing with HDR early in their photographic journey and look back at their early photos now and cringe....myself included!

I'm too lazy to bracket photos these days and can usually get all the dynamic range I need from one RAW file.
I look at your photos and that's where I'd love to get to one day. One thing I've never ventured to experiment with is shooting in RAW and what that can do - maybe that'll be the next step...
 

IntrepidXJ

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I look at your photos and that's where I'd love to get to one day. One thing I've never ventured to experiment with is shooting in RAW and what that can do - maybe that'll be the next step...
If you have a camera that is capable of shooting RAW, that would be a good thing to start doing. You can then learn to develop the RAW files to your taste. It's definitely more work to get good results, but you have total control of the process.
 

Deleted User

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If you have a camera that is capable of shooting RAW, that would be a good thing to start doing. You can then learn to develop the RAW files to your taste. It's definitely more work to get good results, but you have total control of the process.
RAW is the only way to go. I shoot in manual and only in RAW. You can make .jpg files after post. Those are best for web. I prefer different files for print. It is a good thing to either know Lightroom or the RAW convertor in Photoshop to process your images.
 

andyjaggy

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I still bracket my shots, and then manually blend them as needed. Usually I just require a second shot to help blend in the sky as it's usually washed out when I expose for the foreground. I have an older camera (sony a6000) and still can't get all the dynamic range I need with one shot. If you shoot with a newer full frame camera my guess is bracketing may be of limited use.
 

slc_dan

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I still bracket my shots, and then manually blend them as needed. Usually I just require a second shot to help blend in the sky as it's usually washed out when I expose for the foreground. I have an older camera (sony a6000) and still can't get all the dynamic range I need with one shot. If you shoot with a newer full frame camera my guess is bracketing may be of limited use.
Same. I'm still shooting an old eos t3i. My shots don't ever look super cheese HDR, but I have to blend a little bit, more frequently than I'd like.
 

ImNotDedYet

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I think HDR gets a bad rap because so many people just accept the software's horrible settings.

For good HDR, make sure you don't have anything such as leaves or plants that are a prominent foreground feature that is moving in the breeze, shoot from a tripod, and don't accept whatever settings the HDR software uses. Adjust as you see fit and avoid movement, and you can for the most part remove the negative looks of HDR. In Lightroom, there's a setting when creating the HDR that I uncheck so it doesn't give me LR's settings, just combines the different parts of the image together.

I've also shot two images instead of full on HDR - one for the proper exposure of the foreground and one for the sky at a lower exposure, (typical sunset/sunrise scenario) then in Photoshop I manually blend in the sky of the second shot.

I only briefly looked at your images, but they didn't jump out as overly HDR'd images.
 

Curt

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I think, like most things, it all depends. I'm using micro 4/3 which isn't the greatest in low light and probably doesn't have the dynamic range other cameras do. So, I think HDR is a handy tool when you're trying to take a picture where there's something really bright with surrounding deep shadows. I don't think the picture below wouldn't have been possible with my camera system without bracketing exposures. The porch light was all the light there was on the near side of the building. The other side had several lights. I don't know, but I suspect that the porch light would have blown out the exposure on any photo for any system that would have brought up the details on the darker part of the building. I put the bracketed pictures together using Lightroom's HDR module. I wanted something that would look realistic and Lightroom's HDR module seems to be pretty good for accomplishing that.

P3290103-HDR-Edit.jpg
 

Bob

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Resurrection ............
 

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