HDR is a self esteem booster with me.

Vic Vinegar

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I started doing photography in February and really started HDR in April. I'm completely self taught other than a few online tutorials on Youtube that taught me what buttons do what in Photoshop and Lightroom. I follow photographer Trey Ratcliff because we're both big on post processing and my opinion is that being good at post processing is just as artistic as taking the photo in the first place. It requires just as much skill to make a really great photo in Photomatix and Lightroom as it does having the photographic eye out in the field. And it's just as challenging as well. What I do is I take 3 bracketed shots, load them into Photomatix Pro, and then export them into Lightroom. Because every photo is edited differently based on nothing more than just how I felt like editing it in that moment, what I thought looked cool at the time, I won't get into exactly what the Lightroom sliders are or anything like that because this is an individual thing and if you do it like I do then you won't have the same results and you'll get disappointed. I wanted to upload the original unedited photo just to see how much it transformed from the original to the final but there's a file size limit on here and I don't know how to get around that. But here's the final one. This is the birdhouse in my backyard. Honestly the original doesn't look very good at all. The aspect ratio and angle are off. The original isn't even straight. But I like to think that I'm good enough with post processing to turn a mediocre image into something that people like. And I think that should be a person's goal with editing. To take an image that would otherwise not be that great and to turn it into something great (not saying my photos are great or anything :p ). And as you can see I don't always go for absolute realism here. Sometimes I like to make mine a bit abstract which is really fun to do. I actually did a project for family and friends with all my HDR photos and they love them. That's such a good feeling to have as a self taught amateur photographer.

EDIT: I just uploaded a much better photo I got done editing just now. The first one was a phone background. This one is more suitable for actually sharing. Birdhouse 1-edit is the better version. I wanted to make the light hit the side of the tree so I made the right side brighter and the left side darker. And then I included a landscape I did right as fall hit. #1 is the closeup of the birdhouse. #2 is the new edit, and #3 is the landscape. I like the landscape because like I said I don't always go for realism or accuracy. I think it reminds me of an enchanted forest in fall.
 

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I agree 100% with pretty much everything you're saying about processing, artistic vision, etc. HOWEVER, unless you are photographing ONLY for yourself, avoid falling into the trap of "I like this, it's good". This is usually a recipe for not getting any better. If you're happy with where you are, and you are satisfied with what you're doing, that's fine, but most photographers want to improve. Friends & family are NOT a barometer of skill. They will like what ever you do because they're friends & family.

With respect to the image you've posted, I honestly don't find it very appealing for several reasons: (1) The trunk is almost perfectly centered and you're square to the birdhouse, rendering it almost one dimensional; (2) the contrast in the centre area of the image (along the trunk) and the specular highlights are (IMO) excessive; and the lighting appear un--natural. Had you shifted over a bit so that we could see some of the depth to the birdhouse, and been perhaps a little less aggressive in Photomatix, I think this would be a MUCH stronger image.
 
I agree 100% with pretty much everything you're saying about processing, artistic vision, etc. HOWEVER, unless you are photographing ONLY for yourself, avoid falling into the trap of "I like this, it's good". This is usually a recipe for not getting any better. If you're happy with where you are, and you are satisfied with what you're doing, that's fine, but most photographers want to improve. Friends & family are NOT a barometer of skill. They will like what ever you do because they're friends & family.

With respect to the image you've posted, I honestly don't find it very appealing for several reasons: (1) The trunk is almost perfectly centered and you're square to the birdhouse, rendering it almost one dimensional; (2) the contrast in the centre area of the image (along the trunk) and the specular highlights are (IMO) excessive; and the lighting appear un--natural. Had you shifted over a bit so that we could see some of the depth to the birdhouse, and been perhaps a little less aggressive in Photomatix, I think this would be a MUCH stronger image.

Actually this is a phone background I made. I probably should have clarified that. I usually don't perfectly center things in my photos though. You're right that it's one dimensional and everything. I'm editing a new one to show a different method I use. I'll upload it too. But yeah I'm not perfect by any means and I think by networking with people especially on the forums I think I can learn a thing or two.
 
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I also use Topaz Adjust which I forgot to mention. It's a great addition to Lightroom
 
I am glad you are happy with your "accomplishment". This image is not very easy to look at though. It makes my nerves bad :). I won't make the mistake of opening it twice! As long as you're satisfied with it, good job.
 
EDIT: I just uploaded a much better photo I got done editing just now. The first one was a phone background. This one is more suitable for actually sharing. Birdhouse 1-edit is the better version.
Hi, Vic, and thanks for the post. I'm confused about which one you did the editing to. I think if you had numbered them, it might be easier to talk about them. So numbering them as they appear; #1 upper left, #2 upper right, and #3 lower left is how I would number them. I like #2 better than #1, and #3 looks like it could be out of level (just my way of seeing it).
 
EDIT: I just uploaded a much better photo I got done editing just now. The first one was a phone background. This one is more suitable for actually sharing. Birdhouse 1-edit is the better version.
Hi, Vic, and thanks for the post. I'm confused about which one you did the editing to. I think if you had numbered them, it might be easier to talk about them. So numbering them as they appear; #1 upper left, #2 upper right, and #3 lower left is how I would number them. I like #2 better than #1, and #3 looks like it could be out of level (just my way of seeing it).
Sorry I guess you guys can't see the names of the photos. I just edited the description to clarify it. #1 is the closeup which is the phone background, 2 is the new one I just made, and 3 is the enchanted forest.
 
I am glad you are happy with your "accomplishment". This image is not very easy to look at though. It makes my nerves bad :). I won't make the mistake of opening it twice! As long as you're satisfied with it, good job.
This is precisely the kind of comment that WON'T help a beginner get better. I suggest you look at what Tirediron did: pointed out some specific thing to work on, rather than just expressly (or by implication) saying that his images stink.

OP: Take what Tirediron said to heart- he knows of what he speaks.

EDIT: And no, I'm not advocating that this board be a sunshine-pumping station: just be constructive. Don't like something? Fine. Tell the author why- and how to get better.
 
2 is the new one I just made
Well, then, #2 it is! That's the one I like best.

I still have no idea which one is your #2, and whether it matches with my #2, but what the heck, one of them is good, so we're in agreement, even though we may or may not actually be on the same page.
 
OP Quote: ...But I like to think that I'm good enough with post processing to turn a mediocre image into something that people like. And I think that should be a person's goal with editing. To take an image that would otherwise not be that great and to turn it into something great (not saying my photos are great or anything..."

Think of how much better your final results would be if the original was not mediocre. It's a good idea to focus on taking the best shot. Things like content, composition, angle the shot was taken out, good lighting, etc, mostly cannot be repaired in post processing.
 
...being good at post processing is just as artistic as taking the photo in the first place.

Honestly the original doesn't look very good at all. The aspect ratio and angle are off. The original isn't even straight. But I like to think that I'm good enough with post processing to turn a mediocre image into something that people like.

You basically said it yourself: You can't ignore the basic fundamentals of what makes compelling images and then go and assume that post-processing is going to solve the problem.

And I think that should be a person's goal with editing. To take an image that would otherwise not be that great and to turn it into something great (not saying my photos are great or anything :p ).

It's great youre enjoying what youre doing right now, but I honestly believe with this goal/view that you'll never improve your photography. Please look up where the HDR Hole falls into the stages of a photographer.

Being good at post-processing is a great skill to have and can definitely improve images. But I'd also argue that throwing images into Photomatix is not good post-processing skills.
 
Honestly none of these images needed the HDR treatment. The dynamic range in the images is not high enough to need to use High Dynamic Range techniques.
 
I have to agree that #2 is the better picture. I'm curious about HDR myself as it makes some pictures really great. Unfortunately for me I'm so new that I just try and take good pictures because my editing skills suck as I have never went in depth with settings and how it works. I simply take an image. Edit it to where I think it looks good. These guys tell me why it doesn't and I learn that way haha.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
I have to agree that #2 is the better picture. I'm curious about HDR myself as it makes some pictures really great.

If a picture has the dynamic range you'd except to see with your eyes, then it's HDR. If you simply take a photo and apply some shadow recovery to bring out more detail where the sensor under-exposed -- due to limitations of a sensor vs. an eyeball/brain -- you've just done HDR.

If a picture looks like what the OP posted, it's not HDR but tone-mapping.

Unfortunately for me I'm so new that I just try and take good pictures because my editing skills suck as I have never went in depth with settings and how it works.

good; focus on taking better pictures. Or at least stop worrying about "editing" photo, but learn how to do simply post-processing.
 

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