HDR: Realistic or Artistic? The Choice is Yours.

Hey, I know I have written about realistic vs. artistic HDR images here before. However, because this is a hot topic in the world of HDR, I thought I'd touch upon it once again.

Personally, I think the subject has a lot to do with your choice of realistic or artistic HDR. In this post, I am sharing only realistic HDR images, that is, images that look real without the "over cooked" effect - that some love and some hate.

These images originally appeared in my new book, HDR Photography Secrets, which, by the way, has an artistic HDR image on the cover. (Actually, I did a poll here on the cover image before the book was published and folks liked the artistic image over the realistic.)

In the book I go a step further: I talk about when HDR is not a good idea. One example I give is a sunrise scene.

Sure, I like the artist HDR look, the kind of effect you get with Topaz Adjust. But for these scenes, I thought the realist effect worked best.

Here's an idea: After you create a realistic HDR image, convert it to a B&W image using Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro. Use this code upon checkout to get a 15% discount: RSAMMON.

Remember: When you remove some of the color from the scene, you remove some of the reality. When you remove some of the reality, your picture can become more artistic.

In my HDR book I talk about the enemies of HDR, one potentially being subject movement. However, subject movement can be a good thing when it comes to moving water (and clouds)! In fact, the move movement (the slower the shutter speed) the better. Here I used a shutter speed of several seconds to blur the water.

Here are a few tips for creating HDR images in Photomatix, the program I use:

- Do all of your work in Tone Compressor, not Detail Enhancer (which is great for creating artistic-looking images);

- If you do go to Detail Enhance, adjust the White Point and Black Point sliders first - making sure your highlights are not washed out and your shadows are not blocked up. In general, don't move the sliders too far to the right.

- If you see any chromatic aberrations, go back to your originals and remove them in Photoshop, Aperture or Lightroom.

You can get a 15% discount on Photomatix if you use this code upon check out: ricksammon.

Speaking of books, my friend Trey Ratcliff has a wonderful HDR book - A World in HDR. Check it out.

Okay, I am outta here - going to the Southwest tomorrow to shoot some HDR images - realistic, of course!

Explore the light,

Today's e-mail scam: friend asking for money via Western Union

Today, I received the following email from one of the sweetest and nicest workshop students I have ever encountered. The thing is, it was not from her.

Here goes:

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I'm sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it's because of the situation of things right now, I'm stuck in London United Kingdom right now, i came down here on vacation, i was robbed, worse of it was that bags, cash, cards and my cell phone were stolen off me at GUN POINT, so i only have access to my emails, it was such a crazy and brutal experience for me and i was hurt on my right hand, but i'm glad i still have my life.

I need help flying back home, the authorities are not being 100% supportive, i have been to the embassy and the Police here in London, but they're not helping issues at all, but the good thing is that i still have my passport but don't have enough money to sort the bills and get my flight ticket back home, please i need you to loan me some money, i promise to refund it as soon as I'm back home, you can get it to me through western union.

• • •

She followed up that email up with this after I contacted "her":


Thanks for your quick response I really appreciate it, what i need you to do for me is to loan me $1,550 and i will refund it as soon as i get back home, you can get it to me via western union Money transfer, kindly walk up to any nearby store that operates on western union to send the money. Check www.westernunion.com for a local WU outlet that is close to you and use my below details to complete the transfer.

Receiver's Name: XXXXXXXX (I deleted it for my friend's privacy)
Location: London, United Kingdom.

So i will be waiting for you to get back to me ASAP with the western union transfer details, as soon as you have it done, you will need to get back to me with the western union MTCN number and other transfer details and total amount sent to enable me pick up the money. As soon as i get back home, i will pay everything back including the transfer charges.
• • •

My first reaction was to help her. She is around 76 and this could have happened to her. Easily. She travels a lot. She is not in the greatest shape.

After talking with some friends who know her, we realized that it was identity theft.

So beware of emails from your "friends" asking for money! Also check the address after the name. In this case, it was not my friend's address.

After her name in the From window was this fake email address: toelta@yahoo.com

Be careful,

Apps Update: Social Media App Now Availble for the iPad

My Social Media Marketing for Photographers app is now available for the iPad!

Before reading on, keep in mind that this app is a starter course, and not a college-level course, on Social Media. Basically, I share what have learned about the importance of Social Media.

Read about the app here.

Here is the link for the iPad version.

Here is the link for the iPhone version.

To celebrate the app, Juan Pons (the developer) and I are giving away five redeem codes. Please read this first about redeem codes. This is Apple's process.

Here are the free codes: I hope you were able to grab one!


My 24/7 Photo Buffet app, developed by Dr. Dave Wilson, is available for the iPhone. It will be available soon for the iPad. Stay tuned.

Hey, I am interested. How many of you guys have iPads?

Explore the Light,

Book Expo America: Up-Close-And Personal With Dr. Ruth

Photographs (both) by Barry Pruett

I just returned from BEA at the Javits Center in NYC. While signing copies (100) of my Wiley book, Confessions of a Compact Camera Shooter, I told some folks: "Sometimes writing a book is not fun, but autographing a book is always fun!"

Thanks to my friends at Wiley for having me at the show.

After the book signing, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ruth – who is just as much fun in person as she is on TV. Who does not love Dr. Ruth?

Hey, I did not get shorter. I am sitting down in this picture, and Dr. Ruth is standing up!

Explore the light,