I have a sincere question about ethics and HDR photographs.

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ramyjackson

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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?
 

BrianShaw

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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”.
 

jim10219

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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?

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.
 

removed account4

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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 ...
 

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To use or not use HDR is not an ethical question; it is an aesthetic question.
 

Mike Bates

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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.
 
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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
 
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It seems to me that a goal of many photographers has always been to most accurately represent what our eyes see.
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.
 

msage

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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?


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.
 

MattKing

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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.
 

faberryman

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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.
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?
 

BrianShaw

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What ethical issues are you talking about? Aside from photojournalism, I am not aware of any ethical issues in play with HDR.
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...
 

MattKing

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What ethical issues are you talking about?
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.
 

faberryman

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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.
Yes. It is unethical to lie, about HDR or anything else. Is that what we are really talking about?
 

MattKing

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Yes. It is unethical to lie, about HDR or anything else. Is that what we are really talking about?
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.
 
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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.

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.
 

BrianShaw

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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.
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?
 

faberryman

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As digital sensors improve DR beyond what is possible with film, do all images become lies?
 

removed account4

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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.

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..
 

MattKing

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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?
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.
 

blockend

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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.
 

Sirius Glass

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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.
 
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