I talked about HDR in the last post — subtle, gentle HDR. Many photographers have a distaste for HDR, because they claim it does not look real. I find it curious though that the same people who poo poo HDR because it doesn’t look real, accept and even embrace black and white photography. Of course, black and white photography is no more real than, HDR. So what is it about HDR that makes it not look real? Perhaps they are reacting to badly done HDRs. If you read my previous post and looked at my example photograph, hopefully you are convinced or at least slightly more open to the notion that HDR can be done in elegant ways. I argue that HDR is just a tool and it can be applied in many ways. It can make photographs look artistic, surrealistic, realistic and everything in between. So today, I present to you some wild HDR; amped up more than usual, but given the subject, I think it’s fun. It’s the brash side of me jumping up and shouting a little.
I see more colorfully lit bikes these days; probably made popular with the advent of tiny LED lights. Even without the HDR enhancements, the colors of these motorcycles can be quite vivid, especially as they bounce off the shiny chrome. HDR techniques are used to enhance dynamic range (or apparent dynamic range, really) but the technique also has a side effect of emphasizing texture or making shiny things even shinier. And emphasizing the shine is what makes these images fun. These techniques also work great on the gaudy and fanciful interiors of Las Vegas hotels too.
The first two images were taken on 6th street. They are basically different angles on the same bikes. I’ve done this kind of effect before at previous ROT Rallies but this year I went light and used my Olympus E-P3. Last year, for example, I used my Canon 7D with a super-wide angle lens. This year, I had a modest setup with a 28mm equivalent lens. As you can tell, you don’t need fancy DSLRs to do HDR. My Olympus E-P3 works great, just as good as my 7D.
After an evening of shooting with my friends, I headed back to my car via Congress Avenue. The street was a lot quieter, several hours after the parade and I captured a few more HDRs. The Panasonic Lumix 14mm lens that I was using was surprisingly capable of doing this kind of photography. It doesn’t have the super-wide angle view but it still worked well enough that I might use it more often for urban HDRs. Wide-angle distortion can be fun but I’ve realized that if it’s not done properly, it can really be wonky and gimmicky. The 14mm which is equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm world gives a wide enough view without extreme distortion. It renders a more realistic point of view.
So there you have it. Two examples of HDR. Wild and colorful on this post and tame and realistic in the previous post. Each being used to service my “vision” of the type of photograph I wanted to create. So HDR should not be an end goal. You shouldn’t necessarily use it for every shot; I know I was guilty of that when I was just starting out. Now I use HDR for a specific purpose. It’s not my trademark style, it’s just one more tool in my arsenal. The key is knowing when to use it. For my next post, I’ll change it up again and use a different technique to set a different mood.