Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Looking For Natural HDR

I have not had all that much experience using HDR.  In general, I find the cartoonish look that one can (but need not) get very faddish and unimpressive...... just dial up the tone compression.  Sometimes I think that 'look' has become far too accepted.   I  have begun (unfortunately, in my opinion) to see it regularly even in 'high class' photography magazines like B&W/Color. But, I understand it doesn't have to be that way.  In fact, I believe it is far, far harder to produce a natural and believable looking HDR image than a grungy, surreal one.  I used my very recently acquired NIK HDR Efex Pro to generate a realistic looking botanical image which I posted here.  I do have Photomatix as well, but find the NIK product somewhat more intuitive and easier to work with.  So I decided to use the NIK software to try my hand at an HDR landscape shot.  This is from a series of 6 exposures taken at the Swift River in New Hampshire on a workshop with Nancy Rotenberg and Les Saucier that I attended last year.

Swift River, New Hampshire, HDR Image

It isn't perfect in terms of maintaining a natural look, but I think it isn't bad for one of my initial HDR landscape attempts.  The slight haloing around the very distant trees protruding into the sky on the left is not nearly as marked on the full scale image and is accentuated here by having converted the photo to a small jpeg.