When HDR is a Good Thing – and When It Isn't – For Landscape Photogrpahy

I think HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is one of the coolest developments in photography in recent years. I shoot HDR almost everywhere I go. However, there is a time and place for HDR imaging.

When HDR is Not a Good Thing

In the top example (Monument Valley, AZ), the image on the left is the HDR image. Sure, the dynamic range of the scene is captured, but the image lacks drama.

The pictures on the right are my available light shots of the same scene. The top right shot is a natural light shot. The bottom right shot shows the tree in the foreground illuminated by the headlights from our guide's jeep. I much prefer these photographs over the HDR image.

When HDR is a Good Thing

Here is an HDR image (Slot Canyons, AZ) that I like. Without HDR, I would not have been able to capture the dynamic range of the scene. Here, HDR was ideal. To capture the entire dynamic range of the scene, I had to take four exposures: at, over and under the recommended setting. See images below.

The next time you are out shooting, think about the end-result, and whether HDR is a good or a bad thing.

For detailed how-to information on HDR, illustrated with both good and bad examples, see my new HDR book, HDR Secrets.

Explore the Light,