It's interesting (in a weird way) just how much it is possible to travel in such wide arcs, and even full circle, as we journey through life. Here I am now, diving into the world of HDR imaging, yet only a short time ago I was not a big fan of the HDR images I would see posted online and generally avoided the whole style.
First a little back story, how for most of my time in photography I have had this nagging voice in the back of my mind that the photo does not do the scene justice. That and the overall disappointment on my failure to have the two match up any closer than I could with the cameras and film I was using. Even moving into the era of digital cameras, there was (is) that discrepancy between what the human eye can see/perceive and what the camera can record/capture. With the current technology there is just no way that a camera can match the human eye in either seeing or capturing a scene.
Jump forward in time to just a couple of months ago and I found myself reading an article in a copy of the Adobe Photoshop magazine on editing landscape photos to (among other things) modify the histogram by adjusting the white point and black point - extending or contracting the dynamic range of the image. On testing this out on some of my photos, I liked the overall look I was achieving and started using a modified version of this technique on my photos. Pretty much all the photos I have posted in the last few months have received this editing technique and have modified dynamic range. (anyone see where this is going?)
Time for another jump in time - now we're a couple of weeks ago. I was checking out my G+ profile and saw several posts of photos from a photographer I did not know, called Trey Ratcliff. They were photos he had taken at Burning Man and they had an interesting look to them. So, being that I didn't know of him or his work, it was time to go check out his website. Once there I found out he was a major player in the world of HDR imaging and that all the photos that had drawn me to his site were HDR. Then I started looking through his portfolio and saw that his photos were not the garish, weirdly colored HDR's that I had seen online previously - and that had turned me away from the technique. In fact, some of his work was not dissimilar to my recent edited photos. Then it started to click, I was making very subtle HDR images where I was modifying the histogram and the white/black points.
Jumping forward to now, I am in the process of reading an e-book version of Trey's book - A World in HDR - and have his website www.stuckincustoms.com bookmarked. I had a pretty big moment of awakening when I read that he too experienced similar thoughts and feelings about how the photo and scene never matched - yay, I'm not alone in these weird thoughts and feelings of disappointment.
So now, I've come full circle, from someone who didn't like or want to do HDR imaging, I'm now diving in and want to do more HDR. I may finally be able to quiet that voice in my head, once and for all, and make a photo match the scene I see in font of my eyes.
It's time to experiment and fully explore HDR, and to stop going in circles.