Is there a downside to HDR?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Fox Paw, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. Fox Paw

    Fox Paw TPF Noob!

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    I downloaded the trial version of Photomatix and I've been fooling around with it.

    Some comments around here have suggested to me that some people have reservations about HDR. If so, I'd be interested in hearing why. I've seen a number of HDR images I didn't like, but also quite a few that I did like. My limited experiments suggest that it's not for every situation but that some shots could benefit from it quite a bit.

    Some of the strangeness in some HDR photos, I'm guessing, depends on the software used. I also wonder if some HDR photos seem strange simply because our eyes are accustomed to the language that traditional cameras speak. It seems to me that in theory, at least, HDR can more accurately reflect what the human eye can see.
     
  2. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    talking about HDR or DRI here?

    I you combine several exposures simply to increase the dynamic range (which is quite limited on today's sensors), then the image might appear quite natural and I would refer to it as DRI.


    If, however, you really create an HDR image (which would probably contain more dynamic range than the eye could see), and then apply severe tonemapping to turn it into a displayable image, then images appear unnatural.

    The latter gives interesting effects, and might create something nice. But often it is simply not my taste, just like pop art is not my taste.
     
  3. skiboarder72

    skiboarder72 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If I can tell its an HDR, I think it defeats the purpose. Often people turn decent shots into gaudy, overprocessed junk. I've seen some great HDR shots that I like, but they are much more subtle than most, and usually very rare. Use filters if you need more dynamic range... or expose for the highlights and bring up the shadows later.
     
  4. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think this is done on purpose, this is the effect people want to achieve with the tonemapping. Just some other people do not like it.

    Filters do not work in every situation to get the DR you need. Sensors are much worse in this respect than film .. and even worse than slide film.

    bringing up the shadows in PP creates noise.
     
  5. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    HDRIs are used for more than just photographs. The bad effects you, I, and others see are caused by users selecting those settings either on purpose or by accident.

    The only downside to HDRIs that I can think of is the limited support for the file format across applications. and maybe the file sizes.

    You can make an HDRI look exactly like a single well exposed image without too much trouble. In fact actually this is most often the case. It's usually only "photographers" that makes these weird bizarre looking tone mapped messes. :D People who use a camera to create HDRIs that are not directly for display on the web or other usually don't do these things.

    This was kind of an interesting experiment: http://thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=127657
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2008
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    +1 :thumbup: There's nothing wrong with HDR. There's something very wrong with the large majority of people who use the technique though. Make it subtle or make it graphic art. Don't do what 99% of the people do and just make it look crap.
     
  7. Drake

    Drake TPF Noob!

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    I like HDR as long as it's done manually. Get one layer on top of another one, mask what you need and you get a nice, realistic image. All the super popular auto apps however lighten all shadows in the image and darken all the highlights producing a very unnatural outcome. Very few people have the skills to get realistic images with photomatix. Everyone else (me included) should stay away from it, or at least stop claiming their images are still photos, and not graphic art.
     
  8. nynfortoo

    nynfortoo TPF Noob!

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    Indeed. I'm of exactly the same opinion.

    I was never sure if it was my own incompetence holding me back in Photomatix, but everything else I'd seen produced from that program looked like the generic overprocessed junk I see day-to-day.

    I much prefer to selectively blend exposures, brushing in detail manually using masks and layers in Photoshop. I find I have total creative control in this sense; I don't have to tackle sliders and learn the names of effects; I just decide exactly where I want more detail and more light.

    Another downside of HDR: you need to have several exposures, so it doesn't work very well with moving subjects; whether that be animals or simply a windy day on landscapes.
     
  9. grimm5577

    grimm5577 TPF Noob!

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    if you shoot in RAW you can make an HDR out of a single exposure, it might have added noise but it can be done. To me, HDR is just another method of post processing. When done right, although the image may not seem realistic, it can be very appealing. Others not so much. But like everything, it's very subjective.

    Single Exposure Conversions.
    1.
    [​IMG]
    2.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Technically speaking, it is not a HDR then. RAW contains more DR than JPG, that is true, but the sensor cannot capture many stops of DR, so it will never be HDR. What you an do is a sort of tonemapping, as you demonstrated, which reproduces parts of the tonemapping effects seen when converting a HDR into a viewable image.

    BTW, a real HDR cannot be displayed properly, since no screen or print can display that much DR. The tonemapping procedure converts a true HDR into a viewable image then. This viewable tonemapped image itself is then strictly speaking not HDR anymore, but created from a HDR image.
     
  11. grimm5577

    grimm5577 TPF Noob!

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  12. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ok, most people on here will not have such a display
    though ;)

    I agree, that most people who say HDR really mean tonemapping.
     

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