On our way to lunch today, my co-worker Melissa told us she was thinking about buying an HDR camera, but they cost thousands of dollars. My iPhone 4, which I use for all my photos, has an HDR setting. Not knowing what it was, I tried it out a few times. I didn’t notice any difference in quality and it took forever to save the photo, so I turned HDR off and forgot about it.
Melissa explained that HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and that HDR merges multiple exposures and that it’s good when you have a wide range of light in the shot. Sounds good to me.
So I had to try it out RIGHT THEN with side-by-side comparisons. Here’s the back entrance to our lunch spot, La Bodeguita del Medio. The non-HDR version is on the left, HDR is on the right. I see now that the leaves on the hedge and the blue wall, white siding, and sky behind it are not overexposed, even though the dark entry is still properly exposed. Much better with HDR.
But notice what happens when there’s motion in the frame. In HDR, Michelle becomes a shadow of herself, with foliage overlaid on her face (click to zoom in). Cool effect, but not something I’ll use much.
Now, I’m no photographer. My only cameras are my iPhone 4 and my GoPro HD, the latter purchased because I couldn’t figure out how turn my iPhone into a helmet-cam. But I’m not so sure about HDR photography.
What do you think? Is HDR a great technology or is HDR to photography what Thomas Kinkade is to painting?