Personally, I blame Trey. Two weeks ago, I was happily tinkering with my (not so) little Canon 5D, kicking the arse out of ISO, f-stops and shutter speeds, when Trey Ratcliff came to talk to us at Problogger and introduced me to High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. Seriously, go check out his gallery sometime and TELL ME this is not a technique that you want to know how to use.
HDR is a technique that captures the different lights of a scene so that it feels like you’re in the photo. 3D photography on acid. The six photos I’ve posted here were not made using the conventional HDR technique – that is, setting your camera to take rapid-fire multiple photos of the same scene at different shutter speeds (called auto-bracketing), then combining them to create an enlivened effect in photo-enhancing software (go check out Trey’s excellent free tutorial on HDR).
As these photos are about 10 years old, taken 10 years before I discovered auto-bracketing, there is only one frame and I used Photomatix to create the effect. They don’t pop like Trey’s photos do, but I’m damned if I’m not going to learn this auto-bracketing bizzo properly.
So, being a proponent of the art of radical introspection, sentimentality and procrastination, instead of editing husbando’s ebook, I dutifully downloaded Photomatix and went to work on the 30,000 photos from our time in North East Asia. OK, I’m lying, it was more like 10,000 and many of them are craptacular. The photos here are some of those that I dearly love from that time. I took them with my first SLR camera in 2003 – a Nikon 5700 – when I knew that I had a natural aptitude for composition, creating atmosphere and not much else. I was also drunk on chuhai and post-karaoke bliss-bombs a lot of the time so I can’t vouch for their artistry.
But whilst I loved the original photos, have always loved them, they seemed flat until I gave them a little bit of Photomatix love. They were well-composed, slightly evocative even, but what I saw through the lens was not what came out on the screen. I was there, so I know what it was meant to look like, but other people didn’t. Photography for me is about communication, about inspiring people to travel to isolated, beautiful places, to see what I see, and China and Japan are fertile hotbeds of photographic ambrosia. *Cough*, sorry, sounded like a wanker there. Pardon.
As I understand it, there are some, so called pure, photographers who dislike Trey’s work an awful lot because he post-processes. They postulate that he is destroying the art of photography. I say bullsh*t. I am certainly not a fan of over-processing and I do think there’s an art to it. Photomatix is not going to turn trash into treasure (because hell knows I tried it and it didn’t work) and it takes practise to master the art of auto-bracketing on your camera before the processing stage has even begun. But I say, screw the “rules” of photography. If you can turn a photo into a stunning work of art, irrespective of how you do it, and if that work inspires awe in someone, or even better, motivates them to pick up a camera, be creative, then it’s achieved its purpose.
But photography is meant to speak for itself, so, ahem, I’m going to shut up now. Enjoy the silence, won’t you?
Disclaimer: this post is, remarkably, not sponsored by either Trey or Photomatix, although I’m quite convinced neither of them would mind the plug.
More “photography for all” tips: