Bamboo and Ferns – an HDR Comparison

One of the misconceptions many people have about digital photography versus film is that with film you could generally be sure that you were seeing what was captured. That’s not necessarily true. There have always been methods for manipulating film images in the darkroom. Ansel Adams was known to make liberal use of darkroom photo manipulation. The difference today is that digital processing has greatly expanded the ways in which we can manipulate our photos and the creative options available, as well as opening the door for the average person with access to a computer to make use of these creative tools.

On top of the ‘regular’ photo processing tools like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, and Aperture, HDR (high dynamic range) adds another layer of creative options and, one could say, complexity to the way we can manipulate photos these days. Below I have three versions of an HDR-processed photo of ferns and bamboo Taroko Gorge National Park in Taiwan. All were processed using the latest version of Photomatix Pro. The first was done using a method called Tone Mapping and the second used a method called Exposure Fusion. I forgot to note how I did the third one but I think it was also done using Tone Mapping but with different processing options than the first one. Regardless, the point is to simply illustrate the many options that are available for ‘developing’ our photos, in this case using HDR processing. (In a future post, I’ll give an example just using some of the tools in Lightroom.)

There’s no right or wrong image below. They are just different interpretations using different processing methods, although I do have a preference. Which one do you prefer, and why?

Bamboo and Ferns - HDR Tone-Mapped

Bamboo and Ferns - HDR Tone-Mapped

Bamboo and Ferns - Exposure Fusion

Bamboo and Ferns - Exposure Fusion

Bamboo and Ferns - HDR

Bamboo and Ferns - HDR

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