HDR

Goodbye HDR! Hello EDR?

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Goodbye HDR! Hello EDR?

Digital HDR (high dynamic range) photography has been around for years. Before digital HDR, film and wet darkroom photographers, including Ansel Adams, created HDR-like images by using various techniques – including, but not limited to, burning and dodging.

I've always liked a good HDR image, mostly where the image does not look as though it was processed with an HDR program such as Nik HDR Efex Pro and Photomatix - the two HDR programs I use to create images that don't look like HDR images . . . if that makes sense.

Info on those programs, both of which I teach, is on my Save on Plug-ins page. 

HDR, as you may know, has gotten a bad rap. Do a Google search on "I hate HDR" to see what people are saying. (As an aside, I had a bad wrap a few weeks ago at a roadside deli. The tortilla was soggy, as was the lettuce.)

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Recently, someone said about my work, "He's overly fond of HDR." Perhaps that's because I teach HDR, in addition to teaching natural light photography and speedlite photography, on my workshops. Or maybe it's because I have an HDR app - iHDR. That's only one of my 12 apps. Most of my apps feature straight, non-HDR shots.

Fact is, I only shoot HDR about 10 percent of the time. Anyway . . . .

I still like  HDR - the shooting part and the processing part. Mostly, my goal these days is to create an image that does not look like an overly processed, or "over cooked," image. That said, I have been known to go over-the-top when it comes to HDR. That was, and is, good fun.

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Because HDR has such a bad rap, I thought I'd change the name of my HDR images to EDR images. EDR stands for Extended Dynamic Range.

To bring out the detail in that top left scene, HDR shooting and processing was needed to create the image on the top right. By the way, we shoot at this temple on my Rick's Backyard Workshop, which is a ton of fun.

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Even the opening  image for this post is an EDR image. I created it in Lightroom by cropping and then by adjusting the Shadows, Highlights, Contrast, Exposure, Whites, Blacks, Clarity and Saturation . . . and then by making it a black-and-white image. The train was moving fast when I took the shot. So I guess you could say this is a one-shot HDR image, but now I'm calling it a one-shot EDR image.

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By the way, many of my fellow pros are now using Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW to create HDR, oh I mean, EDR images. It's amazing how, with these programs we can open up shadows and tone down highlights to create EDR images. So much so that you don't need to shoot and process HDR in medium contrast situations.

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In extreme lighting situations, such as the one above, a series of images is needed and processing in an HDR program is required.

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Above is also an EDR image that I made in Iceland. It's a JPEG HDR, with a bit of tweaking, of three RAW files that I took with my Canon 5D Mark III, which has built-in HDR. My tweaking included using the Detail Extractor filter (which I call the HDR simulator filter in Nik Color Efex Pro).

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So whatta ya think my friends? Should we replace the term HDR with EDR? Hey, maybe I could write another book or do another app!

In reality, it really does not matter what we call HDR/EDR. Because what's in a name?  Art is art and a photograph is a photograph. My guess is that not many people asked Ansel Adams, "How much burning and dodging did you do on that image?"

Leave a comment here in the Comments if you'd like. I'd like to hear from you. 

FYI: When I first heard about HDR and saw some cool HDR images, I thought HDR stood for High Do-it-Yourself Rockin' Images. :-) 

Explore the light,
Rick

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P.S. When it comes down to it, I think I like photographing people the most. Check out my World Portraits gallery to see some of my favorite images. However, my favorite recent photograph is this one of several Camargue horses running toward me at top speed.

Photomatix Pro 5 is Here - for the best HDR ever.

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Good news for HDR photographers: Photomatix Pro 5 is the best version every for the best HDR. New features include: Contrast Optimizer Tone Mapping for realistic-looking results, new Fusion method for real estate photography, multiple batching settings, and an option to enable fusion from a single RAW file. All very cool features. If you can't wait to order Photomatix, click here to get to my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

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To test drive Photomatxi Pro 5, I reprocessed one of my favorite HDR sequences, taken in the Colony Hotel in Delray Beach on my Florida Photo Caravan workshop.

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Here's a look at the new interface, and here are a few quick tips: work with the histogram displayed, play with presets, start by adjusting the black and white points to control the shadows and highlights in the scene, use lighting adjustments to eliminate halos - the dead giveaway to a poorly processed HDR image.

You can download Photomatix Pro 5 (and save 15%) from my Play & Save on Plug-ins page. All of my favorite plug-ins are listed on that page.

Explore the light,
Rick

"I Hate HDR" and "I Teach HDR the Right Way"

Natural-looking HDR image.

Want to have some fun? Do a web search on "I hate HDR." Tons of pages will come.

Here is something else about HDR (High Dynamic Range photography) that I found kinda funny. I once heard a photographer say, "I teach HDR the right way."

As my dad used to say, "To each his own." I say, "Why hate anything?" And, my take on teaching HDR - or creating HDR images - is that there is no "right way" and no "one way" to create HDR images.

It's all personal, like all art.

Some folks like realistic-looking HDR images, such as the image above, while others like super-saturated images with the grunge look, like the image below. Both images were taken on my workshops.

Super-saturated HDR image.

Super-saturated HDR image.

I don't teach HDR the right way, I simply teach it my way - which covers creating all types of HDR images.

The HDR program I recommend most is Photomatix from HDR soft. You can save 15% on Photomatix when you use this code - ricksammon - upon checkout from the HDR soft web site.

Here is post I did on the latest version of Photomatix.

One tip I do offer when it comes to HDR: The subject often suggests the HDR effect. For example, you probably want a natural-looking HDR image for a landscape, while the super-saturated/grunge effect may look good on a photo of an old car.

Magic Beach Motel, St. Augustine, FL.

Magic Beach Motel, St. Augustine, FL.

As with all your photography, I say follow your heart. Or as Ginger Baker wrote, "Do what you like."

South East Railway Museum near Atlanta, GA.

South East Railway Museum near Atlanta, GA.

If you want to get good at HDR, put yourself in a very high-contrast situation: shoot indoors and get details inside and outside. If you can see into the shadows and if your highlights are not blown out in your final HDR image, you are on your way to creating a good HDR image - your way. The image directly above illustrates that technique.

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Want to learn more about HDR? Check out my iPad app, Rick Sammon's iHDR, which is listed on My Apps page.

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All the creative plug-ins that I use are listed on my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

Explore the light,
Rick

Why I Enjoy Teaching Digital Photography Workshops

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Above: My talented and dedicated Summer Arts students in action.

I'm just back from teaching a digital photography workshop at the Summer Arts Program in Monterey, CA. The event, organized by California State University and produced by my friend Professor Mark Larson, brings together students of all ages and from all backgrounds - and at all different stages of learning.

I was one of several instructors at the event, and I was honored to be included.

You can see from the picture above just how much fun the students and I had on the workshop. That's probably the #1 reason why I do workshops: we all have fun!

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Above: Getting ready to teach Photoshop and Lightroom in the classroom.

During the three-day session we covered: travel, people, HDR, flash and landscape photography. In the classroom I shared Photoshop and Lightroom techniques, as well as tips on social media marketing.

This workshop, as do all my workshops, emphasized why I enjoy teaching digital photography from start to finish. Sure, I get to impart some ideas and techniques to the students, but I also see how each photographer pictures the world in his or own unique way.

I also get to meet awesome individuals, many of whom have incredible talent. I learn, too - and we all learn from each other.

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Above: That's Mark on the left and me on the right.

What could be more fun? Well, I'll tell ya. At the end of my workshops I go around the room and ask the students, "What does your photography mean to you?" This is a good question that you may want to ask yourself. It may help you define your photography.

During my "What does your photography mean to you?" sessions I ask the students to give a short answer, which I break down to one word. We put that one word on a white board. New for me to hear this session: Loving, Confidence, Blessing, Celebration and Heart. Always something new.

I hope to see you on one of my 2014 workshops. We learn a lot and have non-stop fun.

Explore the light,
Rick

P.S. If you can make a live workshops, you can take a virtual workshop with me on-line. Check out my Kelby Training classes here

Perception is Everything - I Guess

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I guess perception is everything.

Someone just sent me an email saying that I am "overly fond of HDR." Kinda interesting, as HDR is only one of the image processing techniques I use and teach on my workshops.

By the way: Ansel Adams was also "overly fond" of HDR. He used different papers, chemicals, filters and burning and dodging to create beautiful "HDR images" in the wet darkroom.

Anyway, it's always good to keep in mind that perception is everything. Maybe someone out there thinks I am "overly fond" of wildlife photography. :-)

I took this shot of a sea lion pup in Galapagos. I took the shot of a whale shark – the largest fish in the sea – in the Maldives.

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Explore the light, 
Rick

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