photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Gordon W | profile | all galleries >> Tips & Techniques Galleries >> HDR Overkill tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

HDR Overkill

With the coming in recent years of techniques to extend the dynamic range of digital images, whose dynamic range is more limited than some film, I've seen more and more often lately the misapplication of those techniques and photographers doing this seem blind to the problem.

I expect there's a proper technical term for the problem, but I think of it as ghosting or haloing (and thereís nothing heavenly about these halos) and the problem appears along edges of extreme changes in contrast where the techniques are trying to darken the bright areas to bring out more highlight detail and brighten the dark areas to bring out more shadow detail.

And the ghosting/haloing is only one problem. Another one is grossly over-applying the technique to the point an unnatural look is created, producing skies that are much darker and have more contrast than they should for the brightness of the foreground and vice versa, where the foregrounds are much brighter than they should be for the given look to the sky.

The photos below show: 1) a basically straight output of a RAW format file that is in dire need of some dynamic range help; 2) the results of poorly configured and over-applied Shadow/Highlight in Photoshop (which is also a look Iíve seen people create with PhotoMatix): and 3) what I consider to be a much better look that was achieved using a combination of some of the other techniques found in this Tips & Techniques section of my PBase galleries.

I expect purists will say that even my processing of this file is overdone, but to me it comes much closer to how my mind interpreted the scene when I took the shot (and the human eye & mind have incredible dynamic range) than what appears in the second image.

(Since posting this, Iíve actually been told by one proponent of the overprocessed look that it is not an error in processing, but the creation of art. Well, as one who has had as much education in art as Iíve had in photography, I know thereís no accounting for taste and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so far be it for me to question what one considers to be art. All I can say is that I personally donít like the overprocessed look. If something looks like a mistake, then it IS a mistake, despite what itís called.)
Unprocessed
Unprocessed
Overprocessed
Overprocessed
My preferred processing
My preferred processing