Palouse Barn – No HDR


This image was crafted from a single exposure.  There was NO “HDR” work done.  Well, no HDR software such as Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 or Photomatix or any other tone-mapping software was used. So I’m safe calling this NO HDR right?  What is HDR anyway?  I know, high dynamic range, I get that, but what does it mean with regard to how our images look?  My guess, is many will look at this image and say it looks like HDR.  Are you okay if I say, no HDR here?  Or does it even matter?  Is HDR a look?  What the heck is it?

I’m inclined to respond to the HDR question the same way my dear departed friend Nancy would when asked if her image was digital or film, do you like it?   Isn’t that all that matters?  Does the process make any difference?  I’m a fan using all the great tools we have to craft my images. I tend to follow my heart, and ultimately I like it or I don’t.  Sometimes I can’t even remember what I did.  How about you?  I’m interested to know how you feel.

This entry was posted in Creative, HDR, Nik Software.


  1. Scott O September 10, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    I agree with Nancy…

  2. Bill Starr September 10, 2012 at 4:48 am #

    In my humble opinion, it’s all about the final image and the effect it has on the viewer. I think the only ones that really care about the process are other photographers. Most non photogs could care less about the process, they just appreciate the beauty and the emotion that it evokes.

  3. Jack Torcello September 10, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    Any photo that encompasses a wide gamut of shadow and highlight, in judicial balance – whether artificially induced or not – can be considered HDR (imho). HDR and GRUNGY have, in the past, almost been interchangeable. But as the style grows up, so too does the gap between HDR and GRUNGE, as more and more subtle use of the effect becomes commonplace.

    • john8276 September 10, 2012 at 11:45 am #

      I was hoping for a comment like yours Jack. I agree! I don’t think the process matters as to its being HDR or not. This image sure has the feel of HDR even though its from one frame and did not use a tone-mapping piece of software. So, I think HDR has become a look. Liking the look or not is another matter….

  4. Alice Olive September 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    I agree, ultimately, it’s your image. That combines what you saw with your naked eye, what you saw when you looked through a lens and then how you chose to produce it. If I’m happy with an image, that’s ultimately all that matters.

    Also, why must digital processing be questioned? In the darkroom, the validity of an image wasn’t questioned when it had been manually cropped, pushed or burned.

    • john8276 September 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

      Excellent point Alice. I think that is what my friend Nancy was trying to say, Does it matter?

  5. Mike Houge September 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    I like waht Bill said-the only people it seems to concern are other photographers. I think (IMHO) many people carry HDR to far- but really- in what medium isn’t there someone that seems to take any concept and go to far. Be true to yourself and do what “you” enjoy. In the end isn’t that all that really matters?

  6. Stephan September 12, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Congratulations in creating a “one image” non-HDR and non-manipulated image. It is great when it all comes together in one moment and one image.

    A great topic and seems all has already been covered and commented…

    Digital or Film: We have always had the ability to do custom work in the darkroom with film (such as burning, dodging, masking, filtration and so on) – even using multiple exposed images and multiple negatives. Now with the digital darkroom, we essentially have the same – yet so much more and without the chemicals.

    Where do we stop? There is a point where going beyond belief or creating an unnatural looking image simply makes an image unreal – simply phrased, “not how the moment was when you captured the image.”

    As the artist, we have control of both the “input” and “output” of the ultimate final versions.

    As for the given moments we are presented, it is how we react, respond, capture and ultimately present what we experienced that becomes our work product.

    Ultimately, it comes down to “Who are you trying to please (yourself, others, a client or all of the above)?” As to submitting a given print or piece to being judged, then your work will be subjected to the given rules and opinions of those viewing and judging your work.

    As Rick Nelson wrote and sang (Garden Party), “You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

  7. al c September 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    What a great shot!!! The sky is incredible. Looking forward to your PEEC workshop in October.

    • john8276 September 18, 2012 at 3:24 am #

      Thanks! See you soon.

  8. Anna C. September 24, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    There is nothing like a cooperative sky and naturally saturated colors. Minus the cooperation of nature, I have nothing against an artist using available tools to carry out their vision. I do think that there is an HDR look that can be detected by keen eyes – if only because we are used to looking at photographs that historically could not replicate the range that is now possible with current technology. Eyes are made to detect these nuances that we can’t always articulate. I think when we look back a few years from now, the “HDR look” will characterize early 21st century popular photography. This doesn’t make it any less of an art form, it is just one style among many.

  9. marty golin September 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Rickie Nelson’s words just about cover it. Regardless of the tools used in photography, or any tools in any expressive medium, the motivation to use them comes from within. Different motivations use different tools. Life is simple.

  10. Denise Bush October 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    I’m with you John. It seems HDR to many means the over-processed stuff we’ve seen all too often. I’ve had people tell me, ‘I don’t like HDR’. I usually respond, ‘not all HDR is created equal’. A while back I had several images from an old abandoned inn on my blog. I processed some with Nik HDR and one without but they all looked like they belonged together. I asked visitors to guess which image was not processed with HDR software and they could not guess (until all the wrong answers revealed the correct answer). Like you, I often can’t remember or tell whether I used HDR software or not.

    • john8276 October 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment Denise!

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