An Airstream Caravel

HDR is a useful tool for landscape photography? Really?

Richard Charpentier HDR, Notes from Rich, Photographing Arizona, Photography 4 Comments

This image is more than the sum of its parts. 3 exposure HDR that captured the overwhelmingly pink morning at White Pocket.

Wow, I’ve been saying that for a few years now. I’m sure readers of this site know very well my take on landscape photography and HDR.  I am now thrilled to say, I’m very much not alone.

Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of submitting a few articles to magazines regarding some of the locations I shoot in.  I have a feeling other photographers would like to know the ins and outs of some of my favorite places, and some of the techniques I use to capture my favorite outdoor scenes.  One magazine I’ve thought about submitting to is Outdoor Photographer, and after going through the magazine cover to cover I think they might just accept an article or two.

The latest issue’s cover really caught me.  A friend called recently and told me to run out and get it, so I did.  What’s on the cover?

HDR!  It’s not a special effect.  It’s the Pro solution for nature photographers dealing with difficult shadows and highlights.  It’s Awesome!

One of my most extreme "light touch" HDRs, and one of my favorites. Just like being there all over again!

Wow, what a statement.  And incredibly enough, it matches exactly what I tell my customers, friends, and fellow photographers.  Used with a light touch and you can recreate scenes closer to what you saw.  Used heavy handed and you can create some ultra surreal images that will bend the minds of your viewers, and will keep them coming back.

Beyond the main article that the cover refers to I found several other tidbits on HDR.  Steve Werner, Publisher/Editor in Chief had some great introductory information on HDR, and his views on its use as a tool for landscape photographers.  Another article, “Tame your dynamic range,” also covered HDR as an option.  Then the cover story went into great detail on using HDR, and how to deal with the process with a lighter touch.

Readers here will know that I’ve run the gamut.  Mind blowing unreal scenes to hyper real images.  I’ve done it all.  And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  The whole time, I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that this approach opens up a broader range of shooting opportunities for the outdoor photographer.  In my opinion, being confined to dawn and dusk for the “magic” light sucks.  Monsoonal down pours build up mid day here, cool clouds form mid-afternoon, shadows play across canyons and rocks changing their appearance by the moment.  I’m really supposed to wait for that magic light?

Without HDR I'm uncertain how well the shadowing and light blending together would have worked out. A personal favorite that depicts the scene exactly as I remember it!

No.  Not willing to.  You have to find ways to work around the harsh light, and to present your final image without harsh lighting.  HDR is one tool that used properly can help you achieve amazing results, even at 1:00 p.m.!

So, I thought I’d share how tickled I am today to look through Outdoor Photographer Magazine.  And I’m even more tickled that I’m not alone in feeling that this technology really can help outdoor photographers present stunning “like you were there” images!

Oh… the way.  Yes, I’ve already finished the first draft of an article for Outdoor Photographer, and it was written before reading this issue.  It’s on White Pocket, and after a round of editing and slight additions I think I’ll be submitting it.  Cross your fingers for me.  The one thing I know for sure…..I’ll have a receptive audience in the staff there given the issue I just finished reading!

Comments 4

  1. Some great shots Rich. What resources/ books did you find most helpful in improving your HDR skills?

  2. Post

    Thanks Alistair! Well, originally the HDR Mastery book was a big help. Also really learning Photoshop. And Ben Willmore’s great DVD was a help……

    But after all of that, where I’ve been going with my HDR work is all my own innovation and learning process. More and more I find that I can look at a scene and know exactly how many exposures, and what it will turn out to be. Along with that, I’ve been working very hard to get to the extremely subtle HDR styling for my landscape work.

    So, time, practice, and a great many resources in the beginning. 🙂

  3. Yeah, I saw that article in OP, and I think in the last 2,3 months I have seen a flurry of articles in the 4, 5 main photo magazines with the same slant: “HDR is not only for the acid trip look”. Also, I saw the book form Trey Ratcliff coming into my online book store. Not sure if it is new one “A World in HDR”.

    All in all, yes I agree that HDR is a great tool. In the hands of different artists, it produces different results.
    .-= Adolfo Isassi´s last blog ..The perils of post-processing (Part 2): Now and Then… =-.

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