Banakas | Photography


Why do photographers feel they have to Photoshop or edit the pictures until they’re unrecognizable?

This is a question that I used to ask myself, until I started to really understand photography and post processing. I used to think that photography was really easy, but then I became interested in sharing my work and followed many other photographers on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. A few years ago, Instagram hit the iPhone and at the time it was released, it instantly became the “had to have” app. You started to see more and more photos of food, dogs, cats, babies, anything and everything that could and would be photographed has been uploaded to Instagram. With all of these images, people feel that they need to find a way to stand out in the crowd, so they will use any tool available to them to create a one of a kind image.

Technology has helped in increasing the number photographers out there. Cameras are smaller, cheaper and can produce more megapixels than ever imagined a few years ago. Anyone can go purchase an inexpensive DSLR and start taking photos. Photos are cheap today. The only cost involved today is the cost of the memory card, the camera, and your time. You can purchase post processing tools like Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture for cheap. This makes it easy for anyone to take an image and just make as many changes to it that they see fit. What works for them, may not always work for you.

HDR or High Dynamic Range is a form of post processing that has taken the photography world by storm. This is where photographers will take multiple shots of the same image at varying exposures and then merge them in post processing to achieve a more dynamic image with a great range in colors from light to dark. When done right, HDR will take an ordinary image into something more realistic. But when done wrong, HDR will ruin an image, you start seeing halos around items and things start to look very cartoon-y.

Below are two images of the same shot that I took of a pile of leaves a few years ago while on a hike. The first image is “as-is” from the camera. The leaves were shot with a proper exposure and they just came out of the camera looking a little dull. I know that while I was out on the hike the fall colors were really popping and there seemed to be a greater contrast in person than what I actually see in the image. This may be for another post, but a camera can only see the dynamic range of one “stop” per exposure. The human eye can see a dynamic range of up to 10-14 “stops”. This is why the fall colors aren’t as vibrant in your image compared to what you physically saw in person.


The second image is of the same pile of leaves. I had actually taken 5 shots (each at a different exposure ranging from -2 to + 2 and merged them together. This caused the dark areas to become darker and the light areas to become lighter. Thus creating the higher dynamic range of colors that you see here.

Leaves - HDR

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