The Great HDR Debate

Recently, I’ve had some pretty funny debates about it with the people I affectionately refer to as: “HDR Haters.” Check out some of the more memorable nonsense in a new section I like to call, “The Great HDR Debate.”

HDR Debate #1 – Talking out of my ass

The Photo being talked about here is called “Meteora – Morning Highlights” and this debate was originally from a Reddit post. Check out the original great hdr debate on

HDR Hater:

For me it’s more an poor shot that’s been rescued, the HDR version being distinctly average. Then again beauty is in the eye of the beholder etc…


I like how you just went with the ‘etc’ at the end without launching into that old argument. 😉 — I’m not sure what you mean by rescued though. Do you mean it was a poor shot to begin with that can’t be repaired by clever photoshop voodoo?

HDR Hater:

I think so, it looks awkward. I think most HDR shots look fake. People like them because they look different, I hate them because they look preposterous. Some people think beauty is whatever isn’t normal. We get so used to seeing the regular, that anything irregular becomes great. I think HDR used that schtick as a crutch.

I think there’s three different things going on in this picture, but none of them really full the frame or grab my attention. The house is lit up like crazy (looking at the HDR shot) and looks like it was cut/paste into the picture (again, because of HDR), but then the house really isn’t the focal point. The big rocks/mtns are cool looking, but don’t fill the frame. The view of the valley is great, but ruined by the foreground. It seems like quantity > quality, but I’m just talking out of my ass, this might be a great photo. To each their own…


The whole “talking out of ones ass” thing remains my favorite part of the artistic process. It ‘is’ all subject to debate and that’s exactly whats so great.

This photo for example, has a severely minimalistic use of HDR. In fact, it’s barely used at all as most of the frame is a blend of the original exposure. — So, if it wasn’t labeled HDR, nobody would put in the words “HDR shots look fake” or “HDR is a crutch”. Instead they might just say “meh… it’s not that great”.

Since HDR has become a bad word in the photography world, many people steer clear of any photo labeled as such, without truly looking at or assessing it. Furthermore, they form their opinion of HDR based on that of all the collected opinions on the internet.

For me, HDR is just a small step in the creation of photos, just like a filter like Nik software sharpener. In other words, it makes up only a tiny percent of what is done to an image in total. — So, if the photo sucks, it’s not the HDR that’s to blame since it really only made up about 4% of the post processing. — Although, in truth, I could just be talking out of my ass.

HDR Hater:

I’m not trying to say that I disliked HDR before it was cool to dislike HDR, but I am. HDR looks neat, but doesn’t look like a real photo. It has it’s place, right next to other artists like Alain delorme’s “photos”.


thanks btw. this has by far been the most interesting HDR conversation i’ve had in quite some time.