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HDR or Not to HDR

In yesterdays post I showed you some images that work better with HDR and you see more detail.  Today I have some images that I took last night at St Kilda and this time you can see whether or not the images are better for using HDR or not.

Same thing again, originally exposed image first then the HDR image with the bracketed shots I took.

This is St Kilda Baths, I think that is what it is called.  There are swimming pools, gyms inside and outside around it are restaurants.  It is a very popular place in summer.

This is the HDR image, it is not really that much different.  I don’t know about you, but I love the original one more, the colours seem richer some how.

I have taken images of this before, but from the other side and very early in the morning.    It was very dark or starting to get light.  It is nice to take some photos from this view and I must say if I go back early one morning this is a view I should try.

This is the HDR image, and I think when you compare it with the one above there isn’t much difference.  Is HDR necessary for this image? No, probably not, the image doesn’t have that contrast between light and dark and if you were just presenting the first image then it would probably be fine.  I don’t think HDR is necessary for this type of image.

It was unfortunate we didn’t get to see a really nice sunset, but again this is the original image.  This building is on the end of the pier.  It burnt down a few years ago and then they rebuilt it.  So glad they did.

This one is the HDR and there are elements that I like, but there is ghosting that I couldn’t get rid of it, so I’m stuck with it.  The sky around the building has also turned out weird.  I think perhaps the first image has worked better, but the reasons could also be that my camera went really weird.  More on that soon.

When to use HDR, good question.  I suppose when you have lots of contrast in an image and you don’t want those black spots, or areas that are blown out, then HDR is the way to go.  For these images here then I don’t think it was necessary.  It will always have to be a judgement call and will always depend on what look you are going for.

Now, for my camera.  I have some questions. Look at the following two images.

These is when the images started going wrong.  I have no idea what that black thing is across the lens.  It wasn’t the camera strap.  I have no idea what that white strip is as well.  It was in every image after this, but not the black bit.

This is the same image has above, but I cropped it for the images I showed you.  There is that white strip again.  My husband thought some moisture might have got into the camera, but I don’t know about that.  I have a Nikon D300s and every image after this had this.  Though when I got home and took some photos it wasn’t there.  It was very humid down at the beach.

So any ideas.  I thought maybe it was the memory card, but my husband didn’t think so.  I have no idea.

  1. I like the comparisons Leanne… although I must admit, that I prefer the HDR (except in the last example)…. I would probably have overdone these HDR’s a bit as I like to bring out the colours (especially blues.. 😉 ) …. Oh my, I have no idea what could have caused these lines…. but I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen again… I think I’ll break down if that happens to me…. 😦 Great post Leanne… once again great examples!! 🙂 **

    February 20, 2012
    • I am starting to understand this more, and perhaps that has been my problem, that I don’t like overdoing it with everything. Perhaps I should play more with it and see what happens.
      I have sent an email to a place that fixes cameras so hopefully they can shed some light.

      February 21, 2012
  2. Personally I like the shots without HDR better. Photography is capturing light, but it’s just as important to capture the shadow (or absence of light). HDR didn’t work with these because you lost a lot of the contrast that made them so stunning. Not sure what’s causing that stripe though it’s oddly reminiscent of curtain problems. I would call Nikon and ask them if it’s a problem they’ve heard of before. Best of luck!

    February 20, 2012
    • I do too, I think for these I like the normal shots. Though I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t be more extreme, that seems to be the advice people are giving me, but then again, I’m not sure I always like the extreme shots.
      Someone else suggested shutter blades, I don’t know. The camera has done a lot of work since I got it, so maybe it is time to fix some problems.

      February 21, 2012
      • In the end the best photos are always the ones you’re proud to display, regardless of what others think.

        You notice a similar type of image problem when you set your shutter speed faster than the flash sync speed (you get a black line rather than a white though due to part of the image not being exposed to the flash). Perhaps maybe the curtains are getting hung up on something. Worth sending it in for a check-up in any case.

        February 21, 2012
      • I think you are right. You have to love your images. I enjoying learning the techniques and having a play with them.

        I think you are right, the camera will have to be seen to.

        February 21, 2012
  3. I feel the image at St.Kilda Baths looks better without HDR – gives it more character I think. Sometimes the natural shadows are needed to make it look more realistic (as with the image of the building on the pier).
    Hope the problem with your camera is sorted out soon – must be frustrating!

    February 20, 2012
    • Yeah, I agree. I didn’t want to go overboard with the HDR, I do think there is a time and place for it.
      The camera, I hope so too. Might try taking some photos today and see what happens.

      February 21, 2012
  4. I like the lesson. It really makes you think about what you want to feature.

    February 21, 2012
    • Thanks Bonnie, glad it was of use to you.

      February 21, 2012
  5. Hello Leanne,

    The black line you get is the blade from the shutter, depending on how many actuations or shutter actions your camera has performed you might be on your way to replace the shutter very soon…

    HDR or not HDR… Well it is your vision as an artist that will determine what you like. But you are right about asking the question HDR or not HDR?

    How many bracketed shots of the same scene did you take for the examples above and in particular of the St Kilda Baths?
    The reason why you don’t get the depth of contrast or the HDR look is potentially because you may not have used enough images to create a tone mapped image and the big no no of HDR is that if you have a big bright blue sky generally you are not going to get much out of it.
    Also I noted that you are getting a lot of ghosting in your images, are you using a particular software to tone map your images?
    Lastly for today, did you edit/retouch the shots once you have them tone mapped or are they what they are out of your HDR software? Only asking because of the fringing you get around the building…

    If you want to learn about HDR you should have a look at the following link:

    I hope you enjoy the second one watch the podcast at the bottom of the page, RC gives you an idea of what HDR can do and really is, he will answer your question about using HDR or not.

    February 21, 2012
    • Hi Arnaud, great to hear from you.
      I took 5 brackets shots with these. The book I was reading where I first learned about it recommended 5. I have been using Photoshop CS5 for the HDR but have recently purchased Photomatix, but am still in the process of learning how to use it.
      I think the ghosting was also because I wasn’t using my tripod and also because people were moving too much.
      Thanks for the links, will check them out in more detail.
      I sometimes do some more editing, I have a spot that keeps appearing on the images, even though I’ve had the camera cleaned, so I edit to do minor things. Why?
      I sent an email to a camera place in Collingwood and attached the images to see what they thought the problem might be. WEird that it happened, and then didn’t happen. Hopefully not a big problem.

      February 21, 2012
  6. I agree with you when you say there is a time and place for hdr. In my opinion hdr works best when it is only just noticable. I used to use photomatix for nearly every shot. Hdr is great for bringing out colour and details in shadow areas. Some great shots on your blog. Thanks for stopping by mine and having a look round.

    February 23, 2012
    • YOu get so many opinions about it. I think if you are pushing for something distinctive then maybe. I like the still lifes with HDR but am wondering if there is other stuff I could be doing to them and need to start learning more again. I think with landscapes it can make them look to surreal and the image becomes something else, and if that is what you intended fine, but I quite like seeing landscapes as if you were looking at them through your eyes, which means HDR, but not over the top. Bright green grass, always a giveaway.
      I think it does get used too much some times, and we probably need to hang back and think about whether it is necessary.
      You are welcome, I’ve bookmarked your blog, so will be checking it on a regular bases, thanks for bringing yourself to my attention.

      February 23, 2012
  7. no HDR …it just looks more natural…!!

    February 26, 2012

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