Love it or hate it, HDR is here to stay as a photographic processing method. Some may argue that the result is not truly a photograph. I disagree. Processing has been a part of photography since its invention, so a method which is simply a higher tech way to do things is simply a prt of that.
Now we have all seen the over saturated, poorly processed, comical results of plugging one or more frames into a product like Photomatix and just leaving the settings at default. In practice, using HDR requires a bit of work on the settings, and, often a bit of experimentation to get the picture right. Ideally an HDR picture results from multiple bracketed frames of the scene. This combines the use of a tripod with an understanding of bracketing while taking the shot. The processing software is then used to combine the multiple bracketed shot. But what if you haven’t got your tripod?
The two motorcycle engines pictured here both make use of HDR.
The Honda Valkyrie motor at the top of the page was planned as HDR. After a few shots, it was clear that in the midday sun, I was not going to get a decent shot. As happens at festivals and the like, you can’t always choose your timing and lighting. Handheld, I shot a bracket of three frames. Back on the computer, these three frames were combined into an HDR, tone mapped and then finished off in Gimp.
The Royal Enfield engine offered a different challenge. With the motorcycle in a position which made it difficult to frame the shot to begin with, and atrocious midday light, I took the best shot I could. Once loaded on to the computer, much of the shot, particularly the chain cover, we’re burnt out. On a whim, I processed it as an HDR from the raw file, bringing out more detail in the burnt out areas.
Poorly produced HDR has given the method a bad name with many photographers, but it is a potentially useful tool. Like any tool it can be used well or used badly.