That is the question. I get this question at just about every presentation I give. Oh, the question may take a different form such as:
Is that HDR?
What HDR program did you use there? Photoshop? Photomatix?
That has to be HDR, right?
Novices in the art of combining multiple exposure-value shots into a single image are often seduced by the surreal qualities of the HDR effect. I was once one of those poor souls adrift in a sea of “wow” wizardry. Now, even though I routinely bracket exposures for a possible future HDR conversion, I find the process less mesmerizing than I once did.
Take this shot of a little-known waterfall in Costa Rica. This was captured on my April tour with Worldesigns Photo’s Costa Rica Tours. The shot was taken near noon in tropical sun. But is it HDR? Can you tell? Certainly the conditions would have warranted a capture sequence that would lend itself to HDR Processing but is this HDR?
I find that as I mature as a digital darkroom of my own photography, my RAW file processing is moving one way and my HDR processing is moving another. Sometimes after processing a RAW file and then comparing it to the HDR process of the three or more bracketed exposures of the same scene, I find that the difference is so subtle as to be virtually insignificant.
The choice before you is: Is this an impeccably exposed RAW File processed to expose the beautiful scene within or, is it an HDR bracketed sequence, processed with restraint and experience. You decide.
I will be posting the answer in an upcoming article
Rikk Flohr © 2009