But there’s a completely different goal of HDR, and that is to even out the shadows and highlights – to produce an oddly-surreal (and to me grotesque) image in which nearly everything is evenly lit. It is this type of image with which I take umbrage. I actually find it sort of repellent. If everything is evenly lit – shadows and highlights nullified – where is the drama between light and dark? What interest is there for someone viewing the image? What’s the point of doing this other than exercising a technique simply for technique’s sake (something I’ve heard Josh Mitchell call – and quite appropriately, I think – nothing more than mental masturbation)?
Blacks define an image. It’s far better to take a picture at the right place and time rather than rely on an over-hyped technique to try to save an image that is of poor quality to begin with.
I’ve kept fairly quiet about all of this until now – but felt it was a good time to express a few seasoned views. Feel free to disagree with me, of course – discussion is one of the reasons the FB page exists (it seems to have replaced the ill-fated membersՉ forum we once had in place).
Also – before you try an HDR (in the classic sense), try using the “Fill Light” control in Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw), or the “Shadow/Highlight” tool in Photoshop. In most situations, these will probably do what you need. But don’t forget the goal of your image – to produce a dynamic and vividly interesting image that contains a full range of shadows and highlights. Take advantage of your black space! Remember – the best HDR is one that no one knows about!