HDR – my take

It seems that now-a-days, one can’t visit a
photo sharing site without seeing wall-to-wall “HDR” images.  Everyone
and his brother has written a “how to do HDR” tutorial.  What is
interesting is the visceral reaction this technique evokes.  People
either think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread or a godawful
technique that mangles images and degrades the “art” of photography.

(The photographic equivalent of black velvet Elvis posters, only without the kitsch appeal?)

I partly understand the animosity to HDR, or at least where it comes
from.  Because it’s easy to do, and produces dramatic results (note I
did not say GOOD results), I feel it is often used as a crutch to try
and make a mediocre image more interesting.  Boring landscape?  run it
through an HDR program and “oooh and ahhh” at the supersaturated colors
and compressed range (not to mention the halos, glow, and probable loss
of sharpness).

I’ve also seen some incredibly beautiful images that incorporated HDR techniques

Bottom line, the way I see it is:

HDR is a post-processing
technique, just like b/w conversion or curve adjustments or split
toning.  If used judiciously and in moderation it can be very effective
and give added depth and impact to your photos.  If misused/overused it
simply becomes a generic “fotoshop filter” technique that mangles
images beyond recognition (mostly images that weren’t all that good to
begin with) moreso, it is often used as a crutch to mask sloppy
exposure/metering technique. 

The most effective uses of HDR that I have seen are subtle.  Used
as a tool to retain highlight/shadow detail in high-contrast scenes it
can be very effective (i.e. take 2 images, one metered for highlights and
one metered for shadows and combine with HDR processing when there is
simply too much dynamic range in a scene to capture in one exposure). 
Most of the time though, it is hard to tell that this is even “HDR”
since it often lacks the supersaturated “punch” of the 5,6 or even 9
image composites.  The danger comes with the “more is better mentality”
– same thing happens with image sharpening in Photoshop i.e. if 20 sharpening is good, 40 must be twice as good. 

so to all the aspiring HDR-ists out there remember: use a light hand
applying the technique, your images will thank you, and dont forget, it’s only
one technique out of many!

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Stupid, Stupid, Stupid…

It seems that for the past few days everyone in the photo-blogo-sphere has been in a tizzy (don’t you love that expression?)  about the newly proposed legislation in NYC to require photographers/videographers to get a permit and 1,000,000 of insurance to shoot *in public places*

I’m sure you’ve read the news by now, but if you haven’t here’s the article.
(LINK-opens in new window)

Now I’m not one to run down the “oh noes tehy are taking our RIGHTS” path but this bugs me, so I’m going to throw my .02 in.

There have been numerous court cases brought against “public photography” and *every time* the courts (up to the supreme court) have ruled that photography in a public place is protected speech under the first amendment.  Putting arbitrary restrictions on photography in public, is essentially just an excuse to get around that pesky “free speech” thing when it is inconvenient.  (i.e. – we can’t say that “taking the picture” is illegal, so we’ll say that “standing in one place with the camera for too long” is illegal)

Now you say this legislation is not intended to restrict or censor private photographers, it’s just intended to prevent congestion/disruption by large film crews?  Fine.  that’s how it’s *intended* (you know, road to hell and all…)  But I ask when a law that is so easily abusable *has not* been abused???

consider:  the proposed law seems to be worded so vaguely that if you and your buddy are standing there with a pair of cameras chatting for too long, bam, you are in violation.  Set up a tripod to take some night shots or architecture?  BAM – violation.

It essentially gives law enforcement (and by extension, politicians) carte blanche to disallow any kind of photography/videography *that they don’t like* – effectively silencing any kind of independent media that is “undesirable”.

Consider, hypothetically: the city of NY doesn’t want Michael Moore exposing some of their “not-so-above-the-table” dealings on… <something>.  Under the proposed regulations, they can simply confiscate his cameras, and arrest him and his crew.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with Moore’s views, and I think his films are blatant propaganda and intentional distortions of the truth *at best*.  HOWEVER – I ALSO believe that the government/city of NY has NO RIGHT to prevent him from filming them.  Pesky free speech and all… unfortunately applies even to opinions that you don’t like.

Another unforeseen ramification: this would prevent any independent media from covering any kind of political protest (too many people gathered with cameras for too long…)- ensuring the only coverage that reaches the masses is pre-sanitized, and approved by the “mainstream” outlets.

the potential for abuse is enormous, if the legislation is, in fact, as I understand it.

now this rant is straying dangerously close to a political diatribe so I’ll quit, but I think we can all agree:

If a law is vague enough to be abuseable it WILL BE ABUSED. no matter how noble the intentions are. 

Losing weight with… a camera?

great news everyone! throw out the scales, cancel the gym membership, and get that tub of ice cream out of the freezer! No longer do you need to slave away to attain that perfect physique and trim waistline!why?

because now your *CAMERA* will take the weight off for you.



Ok folks. raise your hand if you are sick of the rediculous “features” being crammed into pocket cameras, while eschewing things like “image quality” “manual controls” and “good glass”.
I mean I understand the whole “user friendliness” thing to an extent. Plenty (if not most) folks buying a P&S probably couldnt care less about aperture priority, fast glass, manual focusing controls, etc… but I mean really – who is designing these things

(I know, I know – marketing focus groups)

can’t we get an actual photographer into the R&D dept of some of these companies?

I mean, I am constantly seeing the laments among pros and pro-am photographers wondering why it seems to be impossible to put a real sensor and decent glass into a small-format camera. I know the engineering is somewhat more difficult, but it’s not *that* hard.

There seems to be demand for it. Most folks I know would gladly pay between 500-1000 for something like this.

The Sigma DP1 has everyone salivating, but at this point it is still mostly vaporware.

So why? Why can’t we have a camera with a good sensor, decent fast lens, manual controls and NO STUPID SCENE MODES/FACE RECOGNITION/IN CAMERA SLIMMING?

To answer, it’s because the bean counters aren’t convinced it will be profitable. Somehow we must convince them.

unless we do, the silly “features will keep coming” and the quality of the cameras will keep declining.

I predict – the next generation of P&S will have a “vacation” feature, where you don’t even have to go anywhere – you just press the shutter and it superimposes your photo onto a pre-set “scenic” background.

soon there will be no need to actually take a picture.  you will just click the button on the camera and it will simply create an image of you out of thin air, based on what you would “want” to see.

ok maybe I exaggerate, but “in camera slimming” is still kind of silly.

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