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Author Topic: Not all HDR is bad  (Read 4741 times)
RSL
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« on: October 06, 2009, 10:18:07 AM »
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Not all HDR is as bad as some always claim it is.

[attachment=16998:Palatlakaha_2.jpg] [attachment=16996:Oaks.jpg] [attachment=16999:Pear_Park_III.jpg]

But some is...

[attachment=16997:Palatlakaha_4.jpg]
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jasonrandolph
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2009, 10:37:55 AM »
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Not all bad, but mostly.      But in the hands of an artist, it can be a very effective tool that enhances rather than detracts from the work.  In your examples, Russ, you used it to great effect.  The first two are especially fine.  Beautiful work.
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John R
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2009, 11:36:04 AM »
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Quote from: jasonrandolph
Not all bad, but mostly.      But in the hands of an artist, it can be a very effective tool that enhances rather than detracts from the work.  In your examples, Russ, you used it to great effect.  The first two are especially fine.  Beautiful work.
I agree, it can be effective. In the last image, it is clearly noticeable, as you can see the glow, which is similar to bright overcast light, but almost 3D. I do like the second image, as it brings out the strands while retaining the light and details in the shadow areas.

JMR
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kikashi
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2009, 12:13:07 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Not all HDR is as bad as some always claim it is.

[attachment=16998:Palatlakaha_2.jpg]
I love this one, Russ. But did it really need HDR?

Jeremy
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2009, 12:17:14 PM »
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The secret, I think, is that the result must look plausible -- "It could have looked that way to my eyes looking at the scene."

For me these are all lovely, and believable; the last one is slightly less so IMHO.

Nice demonstration.

Eric

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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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Jeremy Payne
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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2009, 12:57:13 PM »
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Here's one I think works ...


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jasonrandolph
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« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2009, 01:17:35 PM »
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I agree Jeremy.  Nice work.  Great color.
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John R
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« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2009, 01:19:36 PM »
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Quote from: Jeremy Payne
Here's one I think works ...
And it does indeed. It looks very natural. Maybe I am still on vacation and don't realize it! The yellow greens, in particular, are the way I remember most of the foliage in the forest.

JMR
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Chairman Bill
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2009, 01:31:13 PM »
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Maybe I've got this wrong (quite likely, so feel free to ignore me), but I thought HDR images were about extending the dynamic range in the image. Could someone please point out where the extended dynamic range is, 'cos I can't see it? Sorry.
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RSL
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2009, 01:35:12 PM »
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Quote from: Chairman Bill
Maybe I've got this wrong (quite likely, so feel free to ignore me), but I thought HDR images were about extending the dynamic range in the image. Could someone please point out where the extended dynamic range is, 'cos I can't see it? Sorry.

Bill, Jeremy asked if the first image needed HDR. I'm going to see if I have a straight shot of this same scene of the Palatlakaha river in Florida. I've shot dozens of them from this vantage point, so I probably can find one. If so I'll post it so you can see the difference.

By the way, Jeremy P., I like the shot you put up but it has the same problem my fourth one has: it looks over-sharpened. I doubt either of them actually is, but sometimes that's just the way HDR ends up.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2009, 02:00:31 PM by RSL » Logged

RSL
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« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2009, 01:59:44 PM »
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I couldn't find a shot close enough to the one I posted to illustrate the difference. I was hoping I could find the original 9 frames from the shoot and use the middle exposure. Unfortunately, I'm afraid they're down in Florida on a DVD. But here are two shots of the same stretch of river in the fog. The first is straight. The second is HDR. There's no doubt the HDR version handles the dynamic range better, though there's not really all that much DR in these fog shots. I think the big difference is in the extra local contrast HDR can give you.

[attachment=17000:Feb_04_2008_02.jpg] [attachment=17001:Palatlakaha_3.jpg]
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Ed Blagden
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« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2009, 02:26:56 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
I couldn't find a shot close enough to the one I posted to illustrate the difference. I was hoping I could find the original 9 frames from the shoot and use the middle exposure. Unfortunately, I'm afraid they're down in Florida on a DVD. But here are two shots of the same stretch of river in the fog. The first is straight. The second is HDR. There's no doubt the HDR version handles the dynamic range better, though there's not really all that much DR in these fog shots. I think the big difference is in the extra local contrast HDR can give you.

[attachment=17000:Feb_04_2008_02.jpg] [attachment=17001:Palatlakaha_3.jpg]

I prefer your non-HDR ones, especially #2.  The earlier HDR images you posted, while they certainly look "nice" (apart from the last one), just don't feel right.
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RSL
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« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2009, 02:58:04 PM »
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Quote from: Ed B
I prefer your non-HDR ones, especially #2.  The earlier HDR images you posted, while they certainly look "nice" (apart from the last one), just don't feel right.

Ed, All of the four I first posted were HDR. Of the last two, the second is HDR.

I'm convinced that if HDR is done properly, unless you're a photographer who's done HDR, you'll never know that what you're looking at is HDR. In the right place, HDR can be very useful. On the other hand, it's a trompe l'oeil technique that tricks the eye with its enhanced local contrast. Photographers tend to get carried away with it.

Here's the ultimate HDR. There's no way in the world to handle the dynamic range in this picture without HDR. On the other hand, who needs to handle the dynamic range in this picture with any technique?

[attachment=17002:Center_Hill_Privy.jpg]
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cmi
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« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2009, 03:43:23 PM »
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I take the opportunity two show two hdrs by myself. These are from some time ago, and I must admit, also pretty much my only serious ones. Currenty I just dont bother with hdr.

The first in three variations, two b/w and one color - and the second only in color.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2009, 04:00:05 PM »
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Russ of the four original shots you posted up top, the first two are very well-done and entirely believable. I might have guessed that the first one was HDR if you hadn't told me, not because it doesn't look natural but just because I know getting such nice shadow tones and local contrast would be difficult in a single exposure. The second shot, I wouldn't even have guessed it.

The last two have that "HDR" look that I don't like. It comes from too much local contrast and an unrealistic tonal distribution. This is espcially true in #3 where there's just way to much local contrast giving it that crunchy, digital, over-processed look. It's also not very realistic that the shadow areas of the foreground are so bright relative to the sky.

The last shot has the same problem, as well as what I call photomatix-sky syndrome, which is uneven color/tone in the sky along with halos where the sky meets the treeline. The relection is also too bright.

If you're using Photomatix Pro with, here are my tips for natural-looking results:

- Don't crank the 'Stength' slider to 100, usually something in the 50-75 range will be plenty.

- Go easy on the luminosity and micro-contrast sliders

- Do crank up the Light Smoothing slider, maybe not to 100% but generally speaking the higher you go with this slider, the more realistic the results will be.

- Black/White sliders should usually be somewhere in the 0.1-.02 range.

- The shadow/highlight smoothing sliders are also useful for local 'hotspots' that have gotten ugly.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2009, 04:00:21 PM by JeffKohn » Logged

button
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« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2009, 04:02:14 PM »
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I like your second the most, Russ- those light and dark verticals really look good.

Jeremy, I quite like your shot as well- wonderful contrasts.

John


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« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 08:19:05 PM by button » Logged
Misirlou
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« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2009, 04:21:09 PM »
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I have a sort of binary approach to HDR. When I want that wild HDR look, I use Photomatx. When I want the shot to look natural, I use LR/Enfuse. I can't get either tool to do both things well.
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cmi
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« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2009, 04:27:06 PM »
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Quote from: Misirlou
I have a sort of binary approach to HDR. When I want that wild HDR look, I use Photomatx. When I want the shot to look natural, I use LR/Enfuse. I can't get either tool to do both things well.

My experience is different. After testing around I finally sticked with Photomatix, and that gives at least with some balancing also (for my taste) quite natural results.


And regarding the first images from Russ, I clearly like the second most.

Cheers,


Christian
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RSL
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« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2009, 04:42:30 PM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
Russ of the four original shots you posted up top, the first two are very well-done and entirely believable. I might have guessed that the first one was HDR if you hadn't told me, not because it doesn't look natural but just because I know getting such nice shadow tones and local contrast would be difficult in a single exposure. The second shot, I wouldn't even have guessed it.

The last two have that "HDR" look that I don't like. It comes from too much local contrast and an unrealistic tonal distribution. This is espcially true in #3 where there's just way to much local contrast giving it that crunchy, digital, over-processed look. It's also not very realistic that the shadow areas of the foreground are so bright relative to the sky.

The last shot has the same problem, as well as what I call photomatix-sky syndrome, which is uneven color/tone in the sky along with halos where the sky meets the treeline. The relection is also too bright.

Jeff, I think you're right. I should have shoved the third shot in the original post down into the "not so hot" group. I don't know why, but there's something about that shot, though, that I like. Maybe it's because I remember how swampy the low part of that field is. You're right about the relationship between the foreground and sky. The area is very shaded and there isn't much real brightness in the foreground.

I rarely do HDR, but when I do I sometimes use Photomatix and sometimes use the tools in Photoshop CS4. Everything I posted in this thread was from early this year while I was still in Florida. Here's one of the first HDRs I made. It's made with Exposure Blending in Photomatix. For some situations that seems to be a pretty good alternative:

[attachment=17010:Living_Room.jpg]


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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2009, 11:39:39 PM »
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Quote from: kikashi
I love this one, Russ. But did it really need HDR?

Jeremy

My very thoughts.

Cheers,
Bernard
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