Today's Guest Blogger: Chris Smith

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I'm sure you'll be blown away by Chris Smith's images in this post. How he got here is kinda interesting.

Chris came to me for one of my "Tough Love" portfolio review session. The first thing I said to him was, "You don't need my tough love." Still, he wanted some advice so we proceeded with the session. After looking at a few of Chris' images, I invited him to be a guest blogger.

Enjoy. – Rick

First, let me thank Rick for having me as a guest blogger. Rick, “The Godfather of Photography,” has been an unknowing mentor to me through his podcasts and his blog throughout my photographic journey. The Digital Photography Experience with Juan Pons and Rick is absolutely the best photography podcast available. Thanks, Rick!

Five Myths of HDR

Photographers have strong opinions when it comes to High Dynamic Range photography. Here are five of the most prevalent HDR myths.

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Myth #1: HDR takes an average image and turns it into a great image

If you want a stunning HDR image, you still need good lighting, composition, and a great subject. Don’t expect HDR software to work miracles on your mediocre images. HDR techniques are not a replacement for good photography.

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Myth #2: You must combine multiple images to make an HDR image

HDR images are often made with a combination of multiple exposures. But you can pull so much data out of a RAW file with Lightroom 4 or Adobe Camera RAW that you truly are creating an image with high dynamic range. Try adjusting an image in these programs by lowering the highlights and increasing the shadows.This skyline image is from one RAW file edited in Lightroom 4 and Photoshop.

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Myth #3: You need to be good at HDR software to make an amazing HDR image

When I create an HDR image, I usually use Photomatix or HDR Efex Pro 2 as my starting point. From here, I use Lightroom or Photoshop to selectively adjust levels, curves, saturation, and color balance. I spend 95% of my time editing an HDR image in non-HDR software.

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Myth #4: A good HDR image must look realistic

When photographers first use HDR software they go too far overboard. Images look like they were taken on a different planet. Eventually, these photographers realize this and try doing everything they can to make their images look more natural and realistic. But don’t go too far the other way. The best HDR images have a touch of a surreal look to them. Find that sweet spot between otherworldly and completely realistic to get the most out of HDR.

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Myth #5: People hate HDR

Many photography purists do not like HDR. But most non-photographers actually love HDR images. This includes people like magazine editors, advertising agencies and people that will buy your prints. Don’t let other photographers dissuade you from shooting HDR. Read Rick’s post, I Hate HDR?,, for a great discussion on this topic.

Do you agree with these five myths? Are there some I missed? Add them to the list in the comments.

At my site, I give advice for shooting in the city as well as general photography and HDR tips. Chicago may be the most photogenic city in the world and is one of the best places to practice HDR photography. Look me up next time you’re in town!

 You can find the location of the images in this post here.

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Thank you Chris for an awesome post.

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Readers: My friend Glenn Taylor and I are teaching an HDR workshop in Atlanta, Georgia February 28 to March 1st. Click here to check out Glenn's cool HDR images, and to get info on our workshop. That's Glenn's image above. We'll shoot here on the workshop.

This post sponsored by Perfectly Clear - the coolest was to get super sharp pictures with low noise.

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