PhotoZAP 14: HDR Overload

Our critics praise and pan your pictures


“I feel like I’m looking at a psychodelic interpretation of this scene…it’s too much!”—Mason Resnick


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© Greg Waddell, Modesto, CA. Gear: Canon 20D, Canon 17-85mm f/4-5.6 USM IS lens.  Exposure: f/22, 5-images shot at 30-1/60 sec at ISO 100, processed with Photomatix HDR and Photoshop CS4.

Photographer’s statement: “This photo was taken on a remote ranch outside of Bend, Oregon. There was nobody around to ask, but it appears that the owner collects old cars and buildings, and then places them on his property. Very strange. I shot this scene in late February, as a massive thunderstorm approached. This made for a very dramatic sky and lighting.

Our Critics Say...

Jack Howard: Here's an image that has been Tone mapped in such a way that many people equate as "the HDR feel." It is certainly going to garner a reaction from viewers. Personally, I'm not afraid of texture and color in my HDR shots, and there's a lot of great detail and texture pulled up in this image. Compositionally, it's got great lines and angles. The rust tones and woodtones work well in a complementary role to the sky. But that sky–it's just a bit too over the top and the microcontrast overload shows in the burnt-in tree branches. Photomatix Pro 3.2.2 has a preset called "Smooth Skies" and Dynamic Photo HDR 4.6 has a sky filter or a Tone Map masking brush to downplay overly heavy skies. I'd love to see either of these sky fixes applied to this image!

Monica Cipnic: I like this image. The composition is strong, with the different angles/planes of the buildings and antiques cars adding multiple layers of interest. I also like the textural feel, and tonal ranges of the browns, rust/red and green colors. But I have to agree with Jack, that the sky's tone overwhelms the picture, take it down a bit.

Mason Resnick: I think everything overwhelms this picture! While it’s compositionally a nice shot and the storm clouds are impressive, the excessive use of HDR is over the top. The dynamic sky is fighting with the dynamic details in and around the building and cars for attention. I feel like I’m looking at a psychodelic interpretation of this scene and as the Beatles once sang in one of their more psychodelic songs, it’s all too much.

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