The HDR Tutorial: Is it worth it?

I bought Photomatix in 2008 not even completely sure what I was supposed to do with it. I was in that phase where I figured the more software I bought that had to do with photography the better my photos would look, right? HAHAHHAHAHAHHA. Man was I way off. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a whirl, and I think the real issue was that I was taking pictures of things that really didn’t need an HDR treatment. They were bad pictures, and that made them worse in HDR…My brother used to say, “you can’t polish a turd.” I guess he was right.

After a while of fiddling around, I invariably ended up on Trey Ratcliff’s excellent, heavily-traveled website. From there, I did a number of HDR photography tutorials which illustrated the process.  I of course started applying the technique to everything, which ended up making some bad situations even worse!

While I appreciate good HDR, I have to say that the various Flickr groups that have been abusing the heck out of the technique have scared me off. At this point, once I recognize the effect, I immediately think the picture is less good, and that includes my own.  In the end, it’s like anything:  too much of a good thing can ruin it.  If you learn HDR tutorials, you should also figure out when HDR is an appropriate technique and when it isn’t.  HDR doesn’t save poor composition or bring life to the lifeless.

Anyway, there was a time when I did HDR so much that I actually got pretty good at it. I’m not saying I won’t use the technique again, but there’s a time and place for it, and that time and place might end up being on some of my wedding shoots. More to come on that as I evolve it!

Meanwhile, check out my own HDR stream over at Flickr or check out my Art Print collection.