High Dynamic Range Masterclass: Page 2
Art as Well as Craft
As with other photographic techniques, there are also artistic implications to HDR processing. An editing suite such as Photoshop presents the photographer with a range of filters which provide the opportunity to completely transform an image. The results can be impressive and, if used correctly, can enhance the quality of an image dramatically. It is worth noting, though, that just because a lot of filters are on offer, you don’t have to use them all, and to their fullest capability. Many a fantastic photograph has been spoiled by over-adjustment.
The principle is the same with HDR. A broad range of postproduction tools exists, and their use often produces surreal and unusual results, which can be to some people’s liking but not to others. The key is to gain an understanding of each individual tone-mapping facet and then to learn how it can be used to most accurately achieve the effect you’re after. If you don’t have an understanding of each facet, then you’ll struggle to find a good use for the technique.
When you come to decide exactly the kind of effect you want from your image, whether it be an adaptation of a difficult dynamic range in a shot, the urge to recreate the drama of a storm, or just a new approach to portraiture, the HDR technique offers something for everyone.
No Miracle Cure
While HDR might present you with a whole new range of postproduction challenges and tools for image manipulation, it is crucial to remember that the fundamentals of photography are still as important as ever.
After all, while HDR has the ability to transform a good picture into an excellent one, it isn’t a miracle cure for a bad picture, though it is often misused as such, with horrific consequences! Here are a few helpful things to bear in mind:
Composition and the ‘Basics’
One of the most important ingredients of any good picture is composition, and this is no less true of HDR images. Try to think of the areas that are going to be emphasised that may previously have been hidden or overlooked, such as the shadowy areas in architecture. Also, don’t be afraid to include more of a cloudy sky in landscape images, for example, as tone mapping will bring out the clouds to such an extent that they may subsequently become an unexpectedly pleasing focal point of the image.
Low and wide-angle shots can also benefit greatly from HDR processing. Much the same as with conventional shooting, always look for a perspective beyond the norm to transform your images.