The camera never lies… Or does it !?!?…

The Camera Never Lies

So I thought I’d use this opportunity to show some of what is professionally known in the trade as “cheating”… lol.. Well ok, maybe not cheating so much.. or at least as far as I’m concerned it’s not cheating, although I’m sure the purists would wholly disagree…  To me it is however making the most of what technology offers us to better represent the scene as we “actually” see it…

You may notice that quite a large percentage of my landscape work has had some “tweaking” done to it, and most of this is using a technique called HDR (High Dynamic Range)… And before the purists amongst you climb up on to your lofty steeds and start screaming for the celluloid police to come drag me to some dark corner kicking and screaming… HDR has actually been around looooong before digital photography…

HDR is actually in modern day terms a digital blending images captured at differing exposures, but dates back to as early as the 1850’s… “The idea of using several exposures to fix a too-extreme range of luminance was pioneered as early as the 1850s by Gustave Le Gray to render seascapes showing both the sky and the sea. Such rendering was impossible at the time using standard techniques, the luminosity range being too extreme. Le Gray used one negative for the sky, and another one with a longer exposure for the sea, and combined the two in a single picture in positive.” (wikipedia)

So there you go…. There’s one in the eye for the film purists who seem to have a deep seated loathing of anything HDR…. Now ok, I guess I can understand some disdain for the process as it has been much overused and some of the extremes of processing you see are quite frankly…. ummmm…. well…. It’s no wonder it has gained a bad reputation… But when used properly it’s intended effect is to more accurately represent what the human eye can perceive, which is a much higher dynamic contrast ratio than any static range achievable by any modern display technology… due to the constant adjustment of the iris and the chemical changes within the eye itself…

So below you will see the original SOOC (straight out of the camera) image…

And now the standard tonemapped (HDR) image… without any additional processing…

And I think you’ll agree that the tonemapped image isn’t particularly impressive and still requires some work… And this is where more technology comes in very handy in the form of Photoshop, and what I normally do is then blend the original raw image with the tonemapped image to obtain a much more presentable and hopefully much more realistic “as seen” scene…

Hopefully… if even one purist HDR hater reads this and thinks “Hmmmmm…. maybe he has a point there”…. then my work is done…. lol… ;)

Oh by the way…. Yeah I know the picture itself is crap, but I didn’t want to detract from the processing explanation with an image that would take the focus of the post, so I chose something deliberately mediocre so’s to show the processing itself… :)


7 responses

  1. Bertie

    Oooh I’ve been waiting for just such an article from the master of hdr. Very well explained and demonstrated Mr. Funky. And I had no idea the beginnings of HDR began in the 1800’s. Wow. Too cool… Hopefully this will make some critics think twice ;)

    December 14, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    • “Master of HDR”… lol… Well I’m not so sure about that as methinks plenty are far better than me… but I do like to point out to the purists that the whole concept of blending images of different exposures isn’t a “digital” phenomena… and has deep seated roots back to the early days of film…. :)

      Thanks for the visit as always though… and the compliment… :)

      December 15, 2009 at 12:35 am

  2. aswirly

    I was thrilled to see this writeup on HDR. Afterall I did model my hdr after yours, you being the master an’ all ;)

    January 5, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    • Thanks so much you… High praise indeed… You make me feel like Yoda… only slightly taller and not quite so old… What !!!… Shut up…. lol…
      Thanks for your plug too, but I have to say I’ve not come across anyone who picked up HDR as competently as you did, and you got real good real fast… :)

      January 6, 2010 at 2:20 am

  3. In my opinion it isn’t the technique that counts but the result. Ansel Adams used to say he doesn’t take photos he makes them. I think he was totally right.

    September 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    • I agree totally… It’s always an advantage to have a good base shot to work with though… and good to know that since photography begun people have been “working” on photos…

      September 27, 2010 at 9:53 pm

  4. That was a really well written explanation of the history of HDR I had no idea it actually went back that far.

    September 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm

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