OK, maybe great is stretching it a little. It’s no Thrilla in Manilla nor Rumble in the Jungle; but the discussion going on in photographic circles around HDR, the use of HDR, whether HDR generated images are photographs and even the legitimacy of HDR as a technique for “traditional” photographers gets pretty heated at times and I admit, I’ve engaged in some of the debate myself. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the arguments that used to go on between ‘traditional’ skiers and snowboarders when snowboarding first started to make an appearance on the hills.
HDR is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of a technique photographers have been using for many years called Blended Exposures – that is, taking two or more shots of the same scene at different exposure settings then manually blending them after the fact. There are software applications that automate the process now, like LR Enfuse, a Lightroom plugin. John Paul Caponigro has written extensively in his DPP magazine columns about what he describes as XDR – (E)xtended Dynamic Range, including the use of HDR as a tool in XDR and shown how effective a tool it can be.
As far as whether it’s even a legitimate tool, at this point anyone thinking it’s not is really not in the here and the now and are clinging to old, outmoded thought processes. Part of the problem is there are hardcore HDR enthusiasts who are trying to ram HDR down people’s throats, who think if you’re not doing HDR you’re a buffoon and who won’t accept any kind of critical feedback on their efforts. The arrogance these people display is little different from the arrogance of the early snowboarders who had no use for traditional skiers who, they felt, didn’t ‘get it’ when it came to snowboarding. Most of these people are producing the really whacked out, comic book colour type effects by simply moving sliders or clicking radio buttons seemingly without really knowing what they’re doing till they get something that looks ‘cool’ rather than something that looks even remotely like a photograph and still looks cool – both are possible. Continue reading