a21 January 2013

Thoughts: There is no HDR photography...

Back in November 2012 I wrote a post titled I don't like HDR in which I focused on the fact that so many photographers and viewers don't like HDR photos just because they are... HDR photos. No matter how they look and how much effort was put to make them look this way, the pure fact is enough to reject them as good quality art. Well, of course I disagreed but I have some further thoughts on that.

People using HDR workflow are often calling themselves HDR photographers, including me honestly speaking (look at the top bar :) ). Well, ok normally I call myself landscape or travel photographer but there are certain occasions when I'm also calling myself HDR photographer.

But what is HDR really in terms of making photographs? Well, it's just a tool, nothing more. Like a tripod, camera body, Photoshop or tool to stitch panoramic images. I would call it a workflow tool because you have to take photos in a specific way (bracketing) and then you have to process them in a specific way too (merging to 32-bit image, tone-mapping to name a few). It's still just a tool nonetheless. Tool and nothing more.

However, photography isn't about tools at all - it's about moments, subjects and emotions. Users of Photoshop don't call themselves photoshop photographers and I hardly saw panorama photographers term around the web. You can call yourself portrait, landscape, nature, macro or wedding photographer. It tells much about what you shoot but for me it isn't important how you do that because it doesn't really matter whether you used HDR, manual blending, Photoshop, Lightroom, whether you shoot using a tripod or use 2 or 3 flashes. It isn't important for me because the only thing I care about when looking at any image is how good it is. If it's a landscape shot of course I will start wondering what techniques were used but it's because I love shooting landscapes and would love to continuously improve. Learning from the best is the easiest and fastest way to do that.

But by saying I'm HDR photographer you aren't telling much about your preferred type of photography. Are you mainly shooting architecture, wildlife or landscapes? Hard to tell - but everyone will notice that you're using HDR for your images. So to some extent we are the ones to blame for being where we are with HDR. Because we scream - I use HDR. And remember that many people when they hear HDR they immediately recall these very grungy images. You shoot HDR? So you shoot grungy unrealistic images. They might be wrong of course but it's often difficult to change the first impression.

I'm also curious what are your thoughts on this.

BTW I also made my mind about creating video tutorials. As I got quite positive feedback on the last one (and the first one really)  I will continue working on more. 350 views isn't many but isn't bad either for the start :)

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