Nothing like HDR to enhance the grunge

A Little Bit Overgrown - Liberty Hill, Texas

A Little Bit Overgrown – Liberty Hill, Texas

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.

Photograph taken with the Canon 6D with the Canon 24-105mm f4 L lens as part of the kit.

Click on the photograph to see a larger image and hover over the photo to see the exposure detail.

5 thoughts on “Nothing like HDR to enhance the grunge

  1. a lot of work that film did in one shot!
    i guess i show my age. i am lazy.
    i still shoot film..Luddite!
    my old Rollieflex a supreme wonder.
    it’s fun exploring small towns..used to with a buddy..
    here in Ontario Canada, that means expensive restaurants..
    Go figger.
    Oh i like the shots..
    The Rollie($250 easily) will flatten any Leica lens,Canon-L,
    or any 35mm, Digital/Film result.jason

    1. It took me about 10 minutes to process this photograph. So I’m not sure if that’s any longer than film processing. And it’s a whole lot stinky since I don’t use chemicals.

  2. I’ve been experimenting with HDr, but I have a long way to go. I’m still very heavy-handed. I just need to keep working at it. Eventually, I’ll get better.

    I had a Rolli. That Planar was the best lens ever put on a really klutzy camera. I sold the camera to a friend who still uses it once in a while. He still works in film too.

  3. i agree with you , no smelly darkroom.
    i shoot film,,get scans, Make digital file..
    no editing! There is only 12 shots on roll.
    i like your photo.It’s good.jason

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