Wednesday, June 15, 2011

HDR Isn't Always In Your Face

I was at a show the other day and had seven or eight gallery prints of some of the railroad/train images that have been on the blog recently.  One fellow was checking them out, seemed to be interested and decided to comment on a couple.  He picked up the one of the station, train and old car from June 3rd and said "this would have been good if you had done it as HDR".  It's an opinion, so I thanked him for his comments and went along my way.  I didn't bother telling him that HDR was part of the processing of the image.  When I was developing the image I did take a look at going to the dark side of HDR and making it look more like an illustration than a photograph, but didn't like where it was headed.  You can read the story of the image by following this link.  The big deal of the image is that you don't see the processing that was done.  You don't see the hose that was removed.  You don't see the bright yellow paint on the curbing by the car.  You don't see the modern license plate on the car.  You don't see three or four people who added nothing to the scene.  You don't see the handbill taped to the far right window of the building.   You don't see the trappings that give away the fact that the shot was taken two weeks ago rather than fifty years ago.  Beware of people making pronouncements without checking the facts.  I've always run the other way when I hear someone making flat statements.  That's enough of a rant.  To find out how today's image relates to the train image and the misguided statement made by a semi-stranger, hit the "read more".

Today's image is a three shot HDR, again done to be subtle rather than overt.  In the size seen here on the splash page of the blog it looks like a "normal" shot.  If you click on the image you'll see a larger version.  Even at the higher image size you'd probably say "hmmmm", is it or isn't it.  You can see some blue tint in the steering wheel but much less in the gauges and dials.  A B&W Adjustment Layer was applied and only the gauges turned to B&W.  The Opacity was brought down to give just enough tint to show the glass and chrome.

The fact that you can see down to the floor by the pedals should be an indication that there's HDR involved.  It's subtle.  Rather than the hyper-realism of some HDR images it looks like a well lit shot.  If you were to put it next to the same image that was done to the far side of HDR people would take a look at the out there version and marvel at the "work" done to the image.  They'd pick up the version that's today's image and, basically say ho-hum and think very little work was done to the image.  The oppose would be true.  Pushing a button and moving a couple of sliders doesn't mean lots of work.  Today's image is another one, like the train image, where what's was taken away is as important as what's added.  One of the things that happened when the HDR portion of the image was opened was that the restoration of the car was seen as not being as flawless as it look in life, in the original shots or in the finished image.  Lots of scratches, dings, smudges, dirt and rust had to be touched up to make it appear in the image as good as it looked to me in person.
The take away would be not to second guess what the finisher had to do to create the image.  Just enjoy the image or keep your mouth shut and keep walking.