AustralianLight - Landscape Photography AustralianLight - Landscape Photography

AustralianLight - Landscape Photography is my new site with my good mate Bernie. If you have found my blog posts useful over the years, then how about giving us a hand to promote AustralianLight.

We are doing everything we can to get our australian landscape photography out there and guess what..... it's bloody hard work!! So please visit the gallery and if you like what see, share it with your friends.

Thanks, we really do appreciate your help. - Russell

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Rusty's Ramble #6: PLEASE, Enough bad HDR!

Arrrrgh! I am so over the bad use of HDR.

HDR stands for "High Dynamic Range" and is a method of combining multiple "different" exposures into one image. The aim of this is to provide a more even exposure across the image... eg: no "extremely" dark shadows that display no detail, no "completely" blown highlights that display no detail and a smooth transition of colour & tonal values in between.

HDR does NOT stand for "Highly Distorted Rubbish".... sadly though, it seems that this is a very common outcome for many HDR users. These HDR images are everywhere at the moment and they keep appearing. You know the ones (naturally I can't single out anyone, or I would be mud) they look like fluro cartoons, just go to any online gallery and search for HDR and you find them.... Lots of them! :-(

The Golden Rule of HDR #1:

Good HDR will not even look like good HDR.

The Golden Rule of HDR #2:

If your image looks like HDR, refer to Rule #1.

"What?" I hear you say. "Good HDR will not even look like good HDR??? - Does that even make sense?"

Yep it sure does. Good HDR will simply look like a well exposed image. It will contain tones that carry right through the dynamic range of the image and these tones will INCLUDE shadows and highlights!

That's right, shadows and highlights!!! They are meant to be there. Take a look around.... where ever you are... right now... take a look. The chances are that you will see shadows that are pretty dark for your eyes and you can only just detect real detail. Similarly, you will probably see highlights that are very bright and you can only just see detail.

This is NATURAL!! This is how we see things in the real world. So why the heck do we end up with HDR images with none of this? How can a user sit in front of their pooter and look at a plastic-fluro-cartoonie image, with no shadows and no highlights and think it looks anything but WRONG??

Yeah I know.... many times someone may want to create an "effect". That's OK, I have no problem with that, as "art photography" has it's place. Just don't try and pass it off as good HDR.

"Keep it real Homie" - HDR Photography 101

End of ramble. ;-)




  1. Thanks Russ, that was a real eye opener for me. Though I've not yet tried any HDR because of the same effect you mentioned here. Most of them can be identified as HDR; not as good exposure. But I am also very much interested to try it sometime. Definitely your tip will help me to consider the basic concept of exposure.

    Thanks a lot.

  2. Nice ramble Russ. I also like HDR's to NOT look like HDR. I do use the processing technique surprisingly often to produce 'normal' looking scenes when the camera sensor's limited range cannot capture what I'm seeing (or at least what my mind is seeing). I like it when somewhen has to enquire as to whether HDR was used on the image (or even better still where no-one mentions it).


  3. Nice Ramble Russ! I use the technique surprisingly often to make 'normal' looking images where the camera sensor's limited range cannot capture what I see (or at least what I see in my mind). I like when people have to ask whether it is HDR or not (even better when they don't even ask).


  4. Nice one Russell, I agree completely. I'm waiting until we go 'full circle', and shift right away from using HDR and go back to appreciating shadows. I'm wondering though, just how detrimental HDR will be to the actual dynamic range of cameras built in the future? I've got a bad feeling too much dynamic range is a bad thing :(

  5. thanks! that's useful information!

  6. Russ, you did make me laugh when you wrote: "Highly Distorted Rubbish".

    I'm not a fan of HDR.

    Thanks for the article.


  7. HDR, HardEdge LIght, Over Post production images are a trend.. Good ideas well executed have long term value and market share.

    "Stop following and start leading"

  8. "Good ideas well executed" .....and there is problem. What I have been talking about here is a good idea "poorly" executed.