This has been on my ‘to-blog-about’ list for years. On the one side there’s the artistic effect, which you can debate. I get the impression HDR is a personal taste, so telling people it’s the right or wrong way seems pointless to me. In my view my early HDR stuff was poor. In particular it was often over-saturated so I could see what was happening (I have odd colour vision). These days if I can can do something I want without HDR I will, and I find adjusting the white and black points is often enough for what I want, but when it isn’t a light touch in Photomatix can make a big and subtle difference
The other side is that it can have practical uses in something like archaeology. I have seen too many photos of pitch-black church interiors. HDR can provide a much better impression of what the human eye sees than the limited dynamic range of a camera because you can expose the shot for a wider range of light and shadow. The alternative is to bring a massive lighting rig along with you, and that’s not practical.
I know some people think this is bad because it’s manipulating the photograph and therefore not a ‘true record’. They’re right it isn’t ‘true’. But the auto function on a camera isn’t neutral. It makes its own judgements on what the settings should be. The difference is that these settings are often hidden from the user when they’re made, so it’s harder to see what assumptions are being built in. Just because you can’t see the manipulation of settings happening doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
I don’t ever see the same angst about reality in archaeological illustration though. I think a lot of archaeologists will laugh if you say the camera never lies, but I think there’s a bias to believing that cameras can be neutral. Maybe with photos looking so much closer to reality we subconsciously insist deviations from reality are flaws not art.Google+