To HDR or not

JJWP677 Loboc Church, Bohol Province

Capturing High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos and processing them is one of my photographic enjoyments. Shooting a scene in its normal exposure sometimes doesn’t cut it, especially if your light is on the side or back of your subject. In that case, your subject is dark and becomes just a silhouette. Using your camera’s bracketing feature (to take three different exposure shots) or shooting in RAW format allows you to create HDR images, and post processing them later. I usually go for the former or if ever I capture in RAW I convert the image first to jpeg or tiff (to minimize noise) then process. We will not do an HDR tutorial here, but I will share my viewpoint on why I do HDR on certain subjects and scenes. First let me point you to some great links:

What is HDR Photography? by Rhommel Bernardino from PictureCorrect
How to Create High Dynamic Range Photographs from wikiHow 
Photo Gallery: How to Take HDR Pictures from National Geographic

HDR allows you to present an image with all the nuances of light and the subtleties of color.
Hence HDR images are quite colorful (though this isn’t always so) with deep contrasts. When done right, you can produce images that pop right out. I am fond of HDR but only on certain subjects such as landscapes and, you guessed it right, churches. The key phrase here is “when done right.” In HDR we have the tendency to amp it up to get that “ah” and “omph” and likening it to too much salt, it spoils the broth. The standard for HDR is realism. It must look natural, but enough to bring out the details.  Note the cracks, exposed bricks and signs of age on the walls of the church pictured above, or the deep yet fading (or I should say peeling) colors of the church below. In a non-HDR image, you will just see a relatively smooth wall with a few jagged lines representing cracks. So much more are exposed – light, details and information using the HDR technique.  Here is an excerpt from Rhommel Bernardino in his article What is HDR Photography? (it’s the first link above):

With HDR technology, photographers can compile different photographs taken at variable exposures. Not only that but also this technique allows photographers create images with an excellent light detail, which is not possible in single shot taken by ordinary cameras. By using HDR cameras, photographers can capture excellent still photographs, in overexposed as well as underexposed settings. Though photographers have the freedom of adding several effects to the photographs, it is always recommended to keep the image as realistic as possible.

JJWP678Dauis-Panglao Church, Bohol Province

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4 responses

  1. I like these because they are not overdone.I am curious why the churches in the philipines that you have portrayed are so rich in texture because they are old or weathered by climatic conditions. Regarding HDR, I am still watching others and have done a couple myself and still checking with myself what I like and dislike about HDR.

    July 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    • Junsjazz

      There are many modern church structures, but I’m attracted to the old ones…there are so much character in churches and cathedrals that have seen their time, rugged and wore down by decades and the natural elements, rich in history and tale…thanks Jane…while some people can’t appreciate the HDR tool, its amazing what you can create with it – images with your personal touch.

      July 22, 2013 at 12:47 am

  2. great processing, pleasing to the eye…I’ve seen some HDR photos where the colours don’t look natural…these are nicely done!

    July 20, 2013 at 2:10 am

    • Junsjazz

      Many thanks Heather !!!

      July 22, 2013 at 12:48 am

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