The Great HDR Debate

Thanks to everyone who came out to hear my lecture at the Paumanok Camera Club last night.  This particular presentation was about creating dramatic landscape images in the camera at the time of exposure.  I appreciated all the questions and participation from the group, and we covered a wide variety of topics including composition, preparation, spot metering, white balance, histograms, hyperfocal distance setting, depth of field and more.  


One of the most spirited debates surrounded the topic of HDR photography.  With in-camera HDR ability (like the Canon 6D) and 9 stop auto bracketing capability in many Nikon bodies, it's easier than ever to blend exposures into a single composite frame.  Of course this raises questions on the ethics of a nature photographer and a photojournalist.  

There are some like the late Galen Rowell who felt that "Nature photographers hold a sacred trust to reproduce no more or less than what was actually before their lenses".  

Others however believe there should be no distinction made between an HDR shot, and a straight single shot. This can be problematic when shooting for publications.  Too many talented photographers have lost jobs due to photo alterations that changed the original scene.  For example, the Associated Press has a very strict code about what editing is allowed within their images, and their photographers are limited to:

Minor adjustments in Photoshop are acceptable. These include cropping, dodging and burning, conversion into grayscale, and normal toning and color adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction (analogous to the burning and dodging previously used in darkroom processing of images) and that restore the authentic nature of the photograph.

Unfortunately, there are countless talented photographers who have been fired for post production techniques that went too far.  

Here are some examples

...and an interesting read on how the issue effects wildlife photographers.

There was an audible gasp in the room when I declared that I removed Photoshop from my computer.  For the last few months, I've done all importing and editing in Lightroom 4.  We have definitely not heard the last of this topic, and I look forward to exploring it further in the coming days and weeks.  

Camera clubs are a terrific way to learn from a group of peers, discuss current trends and gear, and enjoy camaraderie with others who have the same passion as you.  For more on the Paumanok club, visit online here.  

If you'd like to book me to speak at your event, or club, please email me today.  

Chris Corradino