Pat Hatch's PhotoJournal A blog about photography & other musings…


Playing Around with HDR

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is relatively new.  I have been an amateur photographer all of my life, mostly into 35mm film, but recently I made the switch from digital point-and-shoot to dSLR (digital single lens reflex).  Since photo sensors have grown into the mega-pixel range, digital has caught up with, and now, I think, surpassed film quality.  It is funny, in a way, to listen to some of the old pro's say that digital is for crazies--film is the true art.  Kind of like when color film came on the scene, black and white was the true art form.  This is crazy.  You can make art in any medium and it's just elitist to say my medium is better than your medium.  So too now with HDR.  HDR is just for hallucinogenic, drug crazed, newbies.  It's never going to be accepted by the in crowd.  Again, this is just crazy.  HDR was "invented" about 2005, so it's not been around that long.  Photographers are just beginning to fully understand its many uses and its future potential, I believe.

Vans Aircraft RV-6 at Sunset

Vans Aircraft RV-6 at Sunset

RV-6 Panel at Sunset

RV-6 Panel at Sunset

On the Compass Rose

On the Compass Rose

The real pro's made the transition to digital years ago, and now I believe they will embrace HDR as well. It's just that purist, egocentric crowd that's resisting the change. Too bad.

I will agree that you can abuse HDR. I have seen some pretty psychedelic photos that are way overdone for my taste, but I'm sure they are very appealing to some. To each their own. I realize that you have to restrain yourself sometimes, because the temptation is to overdo HDR, to the point where the photograph begins to look more like an illustration. So onward with HDR--in moderation.

Basically, HDR increases the dynamic range of exposure. The human eye is 10 times more dynamic than a digital camera. I think the greatest advantage of HDR is that it approximates what the eye sees in high contrast lighting. Have you ever taken a picture that you thought was going to be great and then be disappointed when, after processing, the shadows are too dark compared to how you "saw" the scene? We all have. HDR to the rescue.

I've read criticism that HDR is just a shortcut for proper lighting of your scene. How are you going to "light" a mountain in a landscape shot? Of course, you can't. There's way too much more you can accomplish with HDR to just dismiss it as junk photography. More on HDR later.

This, by the way, is my airplane. I built it. It is my art form. I look at it like an artist envisions his sculpture--mine just happens to be made of aluminum and rivets.

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  1. Hi from Houston, Texas
    Barbara Fox told me about your incredible pictures of the plane and this owl – beautiful.
    My husband didn’t build his plane (Piper Warrior), but he did completely refinish the interior himself and had it re-painted. Your airplane IS beautiful.

    The Hopsons

  2. Good day Pat. I trust this mail finds you well. We are an international aviation company by the name of Sling Aircraft. We are the designers and manufacturers of the Sling range of aircraft. In addition to manufacturing aircraft, we also have a registered AMO on our premises where we not only service Sling Aircraft but Vans RV aircraft as well. We would like to advertise this however we have no imagery of Vans RV aircraft stored on our servers. I came across your image of the RV-6 Panel at Sunset and this is without a doubt, the imagery that we would like to use. Would it be possible to please utilise this for local advertising in a South African magazine with all credit given to you of course? Many thanks for your consideration and keep up the beautiful imagery!

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