[OM] Re: HDR? [was] Digital Black and White

Subject: [OM] Re: HDR? [was] Digital Black and White
From: Moose <olymoose@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 23:35:20 -0700
Chuck Norcutt wrote:
> You may be quite right.  I just went back to some work I did about a 
> year ago trying to make some HDR type images from  5-7 raw images shot 
> about 1 stop apart.  This is long before I had ACR and everything was 
> done with multiple layers and masks trying to pick the best parts of 
> multiple images.
> I just now picked the one with the widest dynamic range (one side of 
> room rather dark with brilliant afternoon sun streaming through the 
> window at the other end of the room).  Running just the single exposure 
> middle image through ACR I produced in less than a minute or two 
> something quite a bit better than trying to combine all that other stuff 
> manually.  That's not exactly the same as what you're saying but with 
> all those other exposures I had more material to work with than simply 
> trying to pull three separate exposures out of a single file.
You sort of make a point I was working toward. I know there are uses for 
true multi exposure HDR. But, I think they are rather rare, and that 
many hours are wasted on HDR where proper technique working with one 
properly exposed RAW image would actually yield all the image needs.

Short of shooting a sunrise/set with the sun in sight, I think the 
example I picked has about as wide a dynamic range as is generally 
encountered in landscape work. I'm not suggesting bracketing isn't good 
for the purpose. Getting the range just right is important. My sample 
maybe is 1/3-1/2 stop overexposed. On the other hand, how often do we 
actually want all the range? I've noticed that the default in Vuescan is 
for black and white points greater than zero, letting tiny parts of the 
image clip. Shadow/Highlight in PS also does that.

I've also noticed, working on some other waterfall shots where it is 
possible to keep every bit of highlight detail, that I like them better 
when I let them clip a bit. It seems to add an attractive sparkle. I 
suppose it may more closely duplicate what we see in person?

Same thing on the other end. I really don't want the shadows under the 
leaves in my example to hold detail, it's just distracting and detracts 
from the strength of the image. And I like the way detail-less shadows 
on the rock face emphasize the direct sun. I might even have let the 
cave go darker, but this was partly a demo of how detail may be held.

And finally, HDR simply isn't practical for many subjects. Like, uh..., 
this waterfall. The water details will be completely different in the 
different exposures. Because it is so much more flexible as to 
situations and subjects, I think developing good technique to extract 
maximum tonal detail from single exposures is going to result overall in 
more good images than developing HDR technique first. I do wish I 
remembered to bracket more. I need a bracket on/off button on the camera 
body. ;-)

All that said, I will inevitably look further into HDR, but that long 
treatise linked in a post makes my head hurt. I preferred to play with 
images for now. :-)


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