HDR - The Autotune of the Photography World

Yesterday, while browsing one of my favorite non-photography websites, the topic of HDR came up in a comments discussion and one of the comments contained the following quote:


"HDR=The autotune of the photography world"


This ignorant commenter is relating the use of autotuning in the music industry - the process of digitally modifying a vocal track by making pitch corrections - to the creation of high dynamic range images. This implies two misconceptions about HDR that need to be cleared right now.


1. The HDR image creation process (also called tonemapping) is easy.


False. For proof, check out my HDR Tutorial. I think there are a lot of people out there that think HDR is simply a button on the camera or a program that easily turns a standard image into a tonemapped one. This is not true, it has taken me almost 2 years worth of trial and error with all the different sliders and settings possible, to get the production of my photography to where it is now, and I am still learning new things every day. No two images are ever the same, and each image that I produce requires a different balance of settings to achieve the right balance of light.


Ok, so maybe it is not easy to create a tonemapped image from brackets, but any amateur can create a compelling HDR once they learn tonemapping, right? This brings me to misconception #2.


2. The HDR process can turn any photo taken by an amateur photographer into something appealing.


This couldn't be further from the truth. When producing an HDR image, all the rules of good composition, lighting, and time of day still exist. If you don't believe me, take a look at some of my early work and you will notice a complete disregard for many of the core principles of composition. I will admit that a byproduct of the HDR process is the creation of excellent looking texture and this leads certain subjects to be more suited towards HDR than others. The below image of a wine cellar at Castello di Verrazzano is a perfect example of that. That does not, however, mean that any composition, with any set of f-stop, white balance, ISO, and expsoure settings would come out looking like the image you see below.


I give my readers the benefit of the doubt, and I believe that it is only a small percentage of people that still have these misconceptions about HDR photography. For the critics that are still out there though, I ask you to stop looking at HDR as some sort of cheap equivalent of autotuning in the music industry and start seeing HDR as what it really is. HDR is simply a breakthrough technology in the photography industry. Photographers can embrace this technology, or they can ignore it.


From the photoblog at www.shutterrunner.com.


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  • Spreng Ben 4y

    Woow, an awesome Photo, it reall deserves Explore!!!
    Mine is featured in Explore, too check it out if you like to. Have a nice day!
    Warm Summer Night in Singapore by Sprengben [why not get a friend]
  • Keith Moyer 4y

    Very cool shot and excellent processing as always!
  • Neil Kremer 4y

    Nice work and congrats on the BIG E X P L O R E
  • Daniel Dawn 4y


    ♥♪♥¸.•*´¨´¨*•.¸ ♥♪♥♥♪♥¸.•*´¨´¨*•.¸♥♪♥♥♪♥¸.•*´¨´¨*•

    Greetings from Taiwan 台灣!!!!
    Have a joyous weekend!!!
  • Robert Tisnikar 4y

    Congrats on Explore!
  • Linda MPH 4y

    really great pping
  • Dan Chui (on/off!) 4y

    Excellent treatment~ well done!

    Seen in my contacts' photos. (?)
  • Ilia Alshanetsky 4y

    superb capture

    Just One Look!
  • Soleil is me. 4y

    Yes, the best composition make the great artwork from camera, I love it:)
  • dmoon1 4y

  • ANTONIS 4y

    Fabulous hdr, congrats !
  • Lindsey 4y

    Well said Sir!
  • TimLiss 4y

    fantastic shot and you are right!!!
  • sean_hickin 4y

    I'm in total agreement, too - the most important things that make a photograph good are: composition, lighting and that 'special something' which is the photographer's eye. HDR is not appropriate for every image, but unless the aforementioned elements are present, an image will not be improved, or elevated above the ordinary merely by tonemapping.

    Excellent image and good use of tonemapping, by the way!
  • Avi Ben Perez 4y

    beautiful !
  • Bob_24798 4y

    Here's my take on HDR.

    The "purists" raise a stink because HDR is not the pure image the camera recorded.
    Yet.... the camera is nothing more than a mechanical/optical simulation of the human eye....

    This "pure" art form... has only been in existence for 150 years.... and I am sure painters and sculptors in the 1800's had a real problem with this "art form". I mean, what skill does it require? You just push a button?

    In my opinion HDR is closer to what the human eye actually sees..... when I look in a room I don't see blown out windows etc. There is good HDR... and bad HDR..... it's just a tool....
  • swarat_ghosh 4y

    Wow, an awesome Photo, it really deserves Explore!!!
    Mine is also featured in Explore, too check it out if you like to. Have a nice day!
    [Explored] 06-05-2011 #124 Day 110: Summer Flowers by swarat_ghosh

    Via Explore for 6th May 2011 at #316 on Fluidr
  • Marc Collins 4y

    I fully agree with your post. I am still trying to hone my HDR processing skills. Well said....and great shot by the way!!
  • عبدالمجيد المطيويع 4y


    Excuse me used here

    الصمت عآلم يجهله الكثيير
  • Pasodiack 3y

    beautiful HDR,You are invited to join the group !
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Taken on April 23, 2011
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