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Friday 23 January 2009

HDR Images - Pushing the Limits

An HDR image makes me feel like I did when I first shot Fuji Velvia, a very saturated slide film. So I’m not sure what to think about HDR. I know I was wrong about Velvia. I didn’t really like the film's exaggerated colour and saturation. Of course I did change from Kodachrome 25 to Velvia 50 and shot it for years. My images from those days continue to sell. It must be a fatal flaw of my character to be cautious. I felt the same way when landscape photographers started to use lots of filters. Of course I adopted that habit too!

I have been seeing HDR images published for some time now. HDR (High Dynamic Range) images are the combination of several images shot at different exposures and then combined with the help of a computer program.

The effects can be very dramatic. Here is an example of an image I shot this summer:
Here is the same image prepped as an HDR image:
Some people love the look some people hate it. I’m somewhere in-between.

Here is another example. This is a photo of my former neighbour and family friend, Herb. I wanted to take a simple portrait of Herb and got this image about halfway though the session.
Here is the same image as a colour HDR:
I always have the feeling I have gone way too far with these images. Maybe I have but it’s always fun to push things a bit. I love to experiment and play. What do you think?
I didn’t like some of my best friends when I first met them. When you first see something new, do you automatically reject it? I love to just stare at a Jackson Pollock painting. I can just imagine what he thought the first time he “threw” paint on a canvas. The Group of Seven went through a lot of criticism when they were painting because it was a departure from the norm of the day. They pushed the limits of what was acceptable and what was “art”.

I think most people resist change in most areas of their lives. This inertia can be very good and healthy if you have a tendency to try new things that are harmful. But I wonder, what are we missing? What great creative ideas am I suppressing because of fear of what others will think? “Play it safe” I hear the little voices in my head say.

A high school teacher once said to me, “Think of an artist as someone who pushes the norm, someone we expect to reach further and further out on a limb. Yes, they will eventually fall. But only they will know how far you can go.”

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