Age has one big advantage – it offers perspective. I’ve been around long enough to see changes and innovation develop around photography for more than 30 years.
And in photography, we’ve had our share of innovation and change. No need to recite them all but some biggies were the advent of the 35mm camera, color film, DSLRs, Photoshop and digital printing are some that come to mind.
All these innovations had one thing in common….they created controversy amongst the purists.
And that’s how I recognize the HDR haters. They use the same arguments that I heard against switching to digital or making digital prints, etc. “It’s not photography,” they exclaimed. “It looks fake,” they assert.
Don’t get me wrong. There are those who don’t care for HDR photos simply because they don’t like them – much like I don’t like blackberry jam (yes I know it’s a personal shortcoming of mine but I’ve learned to live with it.)
But you see, I don’t write blog comments, articles, or give speeches about the evils of blackberry jam. I just don’t like the taste. The HDR haters go beyond simply not liking the taste of HDR, they make attacking it a religion. And here’s how you can recognize them – they are probably the same people (or their progeny) who attacked color film, DSLRs, Photoshop, etc. when those innovations first arrived.
HDR can be and often is overused. Some people like that effect. I do not. But I do believe that HDR is a very powerful tool that can help photographers get images that would have previously been unavailable due to dynamic range problems. Technology is NOT evil. It allows us to do things as story tellers and image makers that will be important to those who come after us.
HDR, especially when applied in conjunction with tone mapping does indeed render photographs that look more like what we can see with the naked eye. Some people call this a fad, others say it’s evil, still others think it’s lazy. I don’t agree with any of those statements. HDR is just like any other tool or technique. It’s not bad in and of itself. It all depends on how it’s used, who’s using it and what they’re trying to accomplish.
Let’s stop bashing every new technology or tool that comes out – just because we can. If you’re just not a fan of HDR – no problem. I hear you. But don’t attack the photographers who create HDR images.
In my mind, when photographers take time to attack the process, it means they’re missing the point – the picture is what matters.