I have a sincere question about ethics and HDR photographs.

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by ramyjackson, Sep 28, 2018.

  1. ramyjackson

    ramyjackson Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2018
    Location:
    india
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    HDR imaging is clearly a decisive divisive subject. I was schooled in fine art photography 20 years ago before digital photography was taken seriously.

    Ansel Adams was (and is) praised for his technically precise images achieved through use of the zone system. Many people criticize high dynamic range (HDR) imaging as cheating, if I understand the issue.

    It seems to me that a goal of many photographers has always been to most accurately represent what our eyes see. How is HDR different from using filters, the zone system, varying contrast paper, and dodging and burning in the darkroom?

    Is this not just using currently available technology as photographers always have to produce the best exposed image possible?
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    8,307
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What’s the ethics part of this issue?

    My answer to your last question is yes... and there’s nothing wrong with it if the result fulfills “your vision”.
     
  3. jim10219

    jim10219 Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    823
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    That would be the goal of journalism photographers. The goal of most other photographers (fine art, portraiture, landscape, etc.) is to represent most accurately what you see in your mind using what you see with your eyes as a base. A landscape photographer isn't trying to document a beautiful scene. They're trying to reproduce one, which often means taking selective perspectives and other techniques to enhance the beauty. A portrait photographer isn't trying to capture the model, "warts and all". They're trying to capture the ideal beauty of the model. A fine art photographer isn't trying to create and image, they're trying to create a statement with an image.

    The reason for all of the hate behind HDR photos isn't because they're considered cheating. Because you're right, it's no more cheating than filters, dodging and burning, etc. The hatred stems from their overuse in popular photography. It's a cliché. The fist time most of us saw one, we wondered "how'd they do that". Then, we found out, probably did a few ourselves, found out they weren't too terribly hard to do, and moved on. It's a tool. It can enhance some images. But it's often overused to the point of exhaustion. And that's why it's generally frowned upon these days. Still, if properly executed on a deserving subject, it can be a great tool and make for a profound image.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    25,098
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    paswonquitte
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    people have been able to do similar things to hdr for generations .. some films have had a small latitude
    so many exposures were made and printed together just like HDR .. hdr being unethical or somehow different
    ls like asking if burning + dodging, sandwiching negatives, dropping in sky, clouds, retouching negatives with graphite
    cutting and pasting / combination printing or ... is somehow unethical .. i never can get the idea that hdr is unethical or somehow over the top ..
    its no more over the top than doing anything else ...
     
  5. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,444
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2016
    Location:
    Nashville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To use or not use HDR is not an ethical question; it is an aesthetic question.
     
  6. Mike Bates

    Mike Bates Subscriber

    Messages:
    133
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It's usually criticized as overdone or cliche, not unethical. Photojournalism is about the only type of photography where image manipulation is generally frowned on. Glamour, commercial, and fine art photographers regularly use plenty of tools to render the final image they're aiming for.
     
  7. slackercrurster

    slackercrurster Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    380
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2017
    Location:
    L.A. - NYC - Rustbelt
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nothing wrong with HDR. No photo police. If you are shooting for a client then suck up to the client and do as they demand. Otherwise do as you like, a photog is free to choose.

    Ansel would not get this done with dodging and burning in the darkroom. You cannot burn in the smoke from the cig, the floor deatils and a zillion other areas even with 10 Ansel's doing the dodging and burning. BTW beside 2 1/2 hours of Lightroom it is a single image HDR too. In other words, do what is necessary to perfect the image as best you can.

    sunlit-slipper-silver-print-vs-inkjet-print-2013-daniel-d-teoli-jr.jpg

    If you are talking about freaked out HDR it is a personal taste matter. It is becoming more mainstream...

    ny-times-hdr-photo.jpg

    Just do your pix both ways, HDR and non HDR. The pix will tell you what to do...

    faces-of-gentrification-daniel-d-teoli-jr.jpg

    Same with selective color (also combined with HDR)...whatever it takes to perfect or get what you want...do it!

    lost-princess-2013-daniel-d-teoli-jr.jpg
     
  8. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    5,189
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The human eye has a much wider dynamic range the than a digital sensor with one exposure. So if the goal is to accurately represent what our eyes see, than HDR the tool to do it. It doesn't matter to me. The goal for most photographers I would think is to execute a photograph what the photographer sees in their mind and have the tools to do.
     
  9. msage

    msage Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    387
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Location:
    Washington State
    Shooter:
    Large Format

    I think many people have misunderstood what Ansell Adams was trying to teach. He preached knowing your craft so that you could express in the print what your “minds eye” saw, not necessarily what your eye saw. He was less interested in getting a perfect representation of a scene, he was trying to convey emotion and a sense of place.

    As for HDR, for many people it is just that old “anti-digital” rant that we see often on this forum. I use HDR fairly often and my goal is to show the scene as I saw in my mind, not as the scene is. The other use of HDR is to actually mimic what our eyes actually see. We can see a broader range of light then any photographic process can capture.
     
  10. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    2,684
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    Coquitlam,BC Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    HDR in the hands of a skilled person looks quite nice. The examples above for me are over the top. Like a skilled printer in the darkroom, dodging and burning should not be obvious.
     
  11. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    2,684
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2004
    Location:
    Coquitlam,BC Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ...as well as the use of unsharp masking in the darkroom or on the computer. Some people don't know when enough is enough.
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    23,365
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The only time that use of HDR brings rise to any ethical issues is when it is used in a way that manipulates the result, and only if it is also accompanied by some sort of misrepresentation about its use.
     
  13. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,444
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2016
    Location:
    Nashville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What ethical issues are you talking about? Aside from photojournalism, I am not aware of any ethical issues in play with HDR. What is HDR other than dynamic range? Is 15 stops unethical? 20 stops? Is IR unethical?
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    8,307
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I’m hoping I’m wrong but just joined and first post... hopefully not troll. I hope I’m not inadvertently casting any untrue aspersions...
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    23,365
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If the HDR result is accompanied by a an explicit or implied representation that the photograph is an accurate and "un-manipulated" representation of reality. Not a common problem.
     
  17. Arthurwg

    Arthurwg Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    174
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2005
    Location:
    Taos NM
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Interesting question. Perhaps in some sense they are related? " Beauty is truth...."?
     
  18. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,444
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2016
    Location:
    Nashville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes. It is unethical to lie, about HDR or anything else. Is that what we are really talking about?
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    23,365
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A direct lie no.
    But the temptation to lie by omission - to "enhance" a photo that purports to be an accurate representation but say nothing - that is where the problems arise.
    This sort of issue pre-dates digital HDR. Its just that it is easier and quicker to do this with the newer tools.
     
  20. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    5,189
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree. It's always the user of the tool. I have friends that send me photos and he over sharpens and oversaturates his photos. For me, all those tools should be used in a way that isn't obvious to the viewer. The tools should just enhance the image, not show how far one could push the tool. Subtly is always a good thing.
     
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    8,307
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If one presents an image with only a title and exposure information... is there any reasonable possibility that there is a lie, directly or by omission?
     
  22. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,444
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2016
    Location:
    Nashville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As digital sensors improve DR beyond what is possible with film, do all images become lies?
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    25,098
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    paswonquitte
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    i think you are on to something !

    photography isn't about reality, i don't think it ever was.
    POV/perspective lens design shutter speed, DOF, BW color
    it all does the same thing as HDR they distort reality. unless the person
    making the photograph is making it for some sort of testiment of truth
    in a truth finding mission or a journalistic intent photography isn't about truth
    its about idealism and manipulation and making a photographic image
    which is a dance between the subject ( person, place, thing ) and the photographer..
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    23,365
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Depends on the title:whistling:.
    And even more on the context and where the image is presented.
    But mostly, no. Because except in very specific circumstances (like reportage or scientific imaging) the implied presentation isn't that a photograph reveals totally accurate truth, but rather that it reveals a photographic image.
     
  25. blockend

    blockend Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    3,759
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    Location:
    northern eng
    Shooter:
    35mm
    If I don't notice HDR, it's fine. If I do, it's hideous. Photography is mostly about the interplay of light and shadow. HDR sucks all the shadows out, reducing a scene to a flat, lifeless, synthetic visual mush. Dynamic range is overrated, there's nothing wrong with a nice black shadow to counterpoint a highlight.
     
  26. HDR is the digital wantabe for film photography. Rather than use the HDR crutch until digital had can handle a wider exposure range, digital should work on what it does best.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies. If you have a Photrio account, please log in (and select 'stay logged in') to prevent recurrence of this notice.