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HDR, yay or nay? [edit added]

Discussion in 'Landscapes, Architecture, and Cityscapes' started by Terri French, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. A couple of weeks ago when we were in Teton Park we came across this scene at a bad time of day lighting wise. I took 9 shots and combined them in Photomatix. I've looked at it so long now I'm not sure if it works or not. Sometimes the more I look at something the more confused I get.

    Not sure if HDR can rescue a bad lighting situation. Also, I'm not sure if I overdid it in my tone mapping. I'm going for a realistic look.

    Maybe the composition of the shot just isn't that great. Anyway, I would love your feedback.


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    I've read through all the suggestions here and find that they are all valid critiques. Thank you so much. When I looked at this photo several hours after I first worked on it, I could see way too much saturation and contrast in the sky. I tried to tone it down a bit and would love your feedback on how well it works. You guys are great!! I love criticism and suggestions. It's how I learn.

    After applying suggestions from all of you.

    View attachment 224271
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2008
  2. DJVCuda


    Jun 13, 2008
    Atco, NJ
    I like it!
  3. From where I am seeing this, it is a lovely shot. The HDR is not overdone and to me looks quite natural. All in all I find the image quite lovely and beautiful. Well done Terri.

    God Bless,
  4. NJDJ


    Apr 15, 2006
    I like it! I keep thining buying an HDR program.
  5. d_82


    Jan 4, 2008
    HDR doesn't look overdone. I would try to take out some of the blue/cyan on the mountains and see what that looks like. Still a killer shot.
  6. bradNYC


    Mar 28, 2008
    looks good to me!
  7. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Terri :

    I like the shot.

    However. You did ask for comments on it, and so I'll offer them.

    The "pop" of HDR sometimes oversaturates colours to the old Technicolor/picture postcard level - great for sending to Aunt Matilda in Boise, but non-ideal from photographers' sensibilities. In this case, the yellows in particular are, IMO, oversaturated. The greens in the plants have a similar look, but I suspect that the yellows in the plant colour palette are the culprit. The blues in the mountains are a bit strong as well, but not overpoweringly so.

    My suggestion is to go into PS and desaturate the yellows somewhat, playing with it to bring it better in accord with your recollection of the scene. I very much believe that a desaturation of the yellow will bring the scene down just enough to look realistic but still "pop". If you want, tinker a trifle with the cyan and blue, but I don't think it will need much adjustment.

    Depending on how this works, you may also need to pull the highlights down a little using the Shadows/Highlights adjustment. Hard to say from this JPEG visible here at the Café, but I think some edges on plants and bits of the ground may be a bit "hotter" than you'll want after the colour adjustment.

    If you've saved in Photomatix as a TIFF, you can make these changes without degradation of the file being resaved as a JPEG.

    One other point - after the desaturation, try using a discrete amount of Smart Sharpen on the image, just to "crisp it up" a touch. I think the combination will be to your liking.

    John P.
  8. jadlh


    Mar 6, 2008
    USA, Michigan
    I can't figure out what is just not right in the picture, I think it's the clouds that don't seem to fit in the composition, or maybe it's the portrait view vs. the landscape look.
    The focus is good and I like the colors, hmmmmm.
  9. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Since you asked for honest C&C (and I know you can take it), it doesn't quite work for me. The sky definitely has that HDR look: too much gray in the clouds along with apparent motion (I assume due to blending frames that don't perfectly align), and the blue areas of the sky are a little too dark to be realistic. The luminosity in the tree line is also uneven, and the lighting is pretty harsh on the flowers (something HDR can't really fix). The composition has potential; it's too bad you couldn't come back for better light, but I certainly understand that's not always possible when traveling.
  10. Falcon


    May 3, 2006
    I like the idea of HDR where you can rescue som details in an otherwise dark fore/background. However, I find that most HDR pictures I look at I can almost see everytime if it's a HDR or not, and this is one of them where it it's obvious that it's a HDR. People tend to "oversaturate HDR's and that makes them look unatural (unless that's what you intended). As others have mentioned then try to desaturate the yellow flowers and remove the blue color cast in the mountains and I think you'll have a perfect picture. I hope I don't seem to harsh, but I think you will see it as only a constructive criticism and nothing else.
    BTW. You're one of the photographers here that I always enjoy seeing pictures from, you have a great eye for the motives and understand how to catch them on "film".

    Regards Jørn
  11. It be workin...


    Definately works for me... I like it a lot.

    The only thing is I think the green of the trees overwhelms the flower greenery.

    You are a whiz at that HDR. You should put together a 'How to' on HDR images.

    I have tried a few, but not enough to produce an image that I thought
    was worthy to post.

  12. Very pretty ! I like it..
  13. I appreciate everyone who made comments and suggestions. I've toned down the saturation--especially the yellows and blues. I took some of the contrast from the sky. I also added a bit more sharpening. Does it look any better now? It's added in the original post.

    Thanks again.
  14. If you figure out what it is that bothers you, I would love to know. I did one earlier in landscape view. I posted it for the cafe but will add it again here for you to see.

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  15. Terri, this last one seems more realistic that the ones at the top of the post. The colours are more normal here--the clouds and the yellows seem to be influenced by the same lighting. I've been been/am a big fan of your HDR work--you have such a light touch--makes it seem so much more natural!
  16. Terri, As for HDR, yay or nay, I say yay. You've been able to get natural looking results. I think a well done HDR is one where you're not sure it IS HDR. Also you were kind enough to post a tutorial about the subject in answer to a question I asked you.
    To be honest, your initial post here isn't my favorite of your work. To me the shot is the mountains and the clouds. My eye couldn't find a resting place. There was too much information in all the yellow flowers, and no clear strong subject. Your hoodoos and others all have a strong graphic subject, along with very natural HDR processing, to the point that often I'm not sure if they ARE HDR's.
    I always go straight to your posts. Keep 'em coming!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2008
  17. I like it... although, it doesn't really look real... I feel it kinda works..
  18. OK, there has been enough negative on this one that I am going to say that it isn't a winner. It was a good experiment, though. The discussion here was enlightening. I've learned a bit more about what makes a good HDR and what makes a bad one.....

    Thanks all. I've got a crazy evening and week ahead so won't be able to play with it anymore. I guess it's a gonner......:eek: :biggrin:
  19. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Terri :

    In all fairness to the image, if this image had been the result, say, eighteen months ago, you'd have had a different reception. But you've done a great deal with the technology, other people have been advancing in the area, and the overall quality of results has been increasing. This certainly isn't "negative" in the sense of a wretched effort.

    One thing that I've found with Photomatix is that sometimes, more input photos are worse than a smaller number. It manifests in IQ through fuzzy edges/slightly off focus (especially with a longer period to retake the shots with differing EV comp), sometimes in off colour balances or saturation, and often with the "HDR look" where the image DR feels dissonant to the image. You might try a smaller number, say four or five images with Photomatix, and perhaps not quite so many in the upper part of the DR (more bright). You might be surprised with the result.

    Take good care of yourself and Greg in the coming days.

    John P.
  20. tblazi


    Jul 9, 2008
    Works very well for me !

    Agreed with falcon in every way. True HDR purpose is to save fine details from shadow/highlight areas with realistic look at the same time.
    In your case, grad ND filter would give similar effect.
    Just my 2 cents :) 
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