I was looking over the photographs of small town Texas that I shot last Sunday. This one stood out as a candidate for some extra grunge enhancement. This little place was located one block south of downtown Liberty Hill. And by “downtown” I’m talking about, perhaps, two dozen structures.
HDR can be used to good effect in several cases. Certainly, its main purpose is to enhance the apparent dynamic range of an image. That’s the way I usually use it. But it also has the effect of making shiny things even shinier and grungy things even grungier. I processed this photograph a bit more aggressively than I usually do. I wanted to enhance the overgrown and dilapidated look.
But even when cranking up the sliders, there are certain things you should keep in check. Halos, bright areas that outline edges, which typically show up in skies, is a sure sign of bad HDR processing. As a matter of personal taste, I’m not into strong tone mapping which adds a heavy and dark texture over the surfaces. I appreciate a slight texture boost but what I really like is rich color.
If I took the original image, untouched by HDR, and cranked up the color, I wouldn’t get this effect. Something about the increased texture and micro contrast mixed with the additional color gives a different kind of effect. The HDR also allows me to capture a blue sky and crisp cloud details.
It’s important to remember that HDR is a tool. The end goal is not to make HDRs but to use its characteristics to enhance your creative idea. That’s a perspective I didn’t have when I first started.
Click on the photograph to see a larger image and hover over the photo to see the exposure detail.