Thoughts on HDR Photography

HDR junkyard photography street

A new thing I’m experimenting with: HDR photography (in-camera HDR setting on RICOH GR III), and have been having a lot of fun:

But isn’t HDR ugly?

HDR means “high dynamic range”. Typically frowned on by the “serious” photography community. Typically the hate is from the notion that HDR photos are aesthetically ugly, that they’re somehow “cheating”, or used by those despicable “newbies”.

Question:

Has any “serious” photographer tried to “seriously” apply HDR into their work?

Why HDR?

The question:

Why HDR?

Typically the problem with “traditional” cameras is that the dynamic range in which it can see is low. The human eye has far more dynamic range than any camera — we can see subtleties between the highlights and shadows of a scene, and everything in-between. Thus the purpose of HDR is the ability for the camera sensor to perceive and record more of the dynamic range in a scene.

Truth be told, looking at a lot of these HDR photos I shot … many feel “too extreme”. It’s hyper-natural— the HDR photos show *more* dynamic range than our eyes naturally can perceive.

HDR as just another tool in our toolkit

It seems HDR is a selective tool. You wouldn’t fillet a fish with a butchers knife, nor would you butcher a steak with a fillet knife. I see HDR as an interesting tool for selective scenarios. For example, when I see something and I shoot it, yet the camera doesn’t do what I want it to do (I want to see more dynamic range in the photos), *then* I will take the photo in HDR. Or in a scenario in which I’m simply curious about how my camera will render a given scene in HDR. And therefore when I see a certain scene, I’ll often shoot 3 variations of it:

  1. Cross-process JPEG filter
  2. High contrast monochrome JPEG filter
  3. In-camera HDR filter

Converting color HDR photos into monochrome

Often I find the default color HDR photos a bit too extreme and ugly in my eyes. Converting it to monochrome seems to “lessen” and dampen this impact. Thus the takeaway:

Try experimenting with shooting HDR in-camera (if your camera has the functionality) and convert it into monochrome later for a more pleasing effect.

The joy of photography as visual experimentation

My big thought is simple:

Photography is most fun and joyful when we just use it as a form of visual experimentation.

Like a good scientist … we know that all experiments are just forms of information-gathering. There is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” experiment. They simply yield different results, which give us different forms of information.

Never stop experimenting and shooting!

ERIC

MASTER MOTIVATION

ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II x Ricoh GR II x RICOH MAFIA Artwear
ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II x Ricoh GR II x RICOH MAFIA Artwear

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By ERIC KIM

Artist-Philosopher