In the Name of Constructive Criticism! Part 2 – The Two Biggest HDR Boo-boos!

(This is the final of three posts that were published a couple of years ago that I decided to republish. I hope someone found them beneficial.)

Just as a reminder of the disclaimer in my last post, I do not claim to know all (or even a smidgen) of the vast range of knowledge there is to grasp in producing top quality HDR images. OK, so I didn’t say all of that just like that, but it’s what I meant.)

I touched on how my bubble had been burst when I received comments on a few of my first HDR photos that I’d posted in my public image sites. Those comments came to me in the name of constructive criticism. Yes, I had posted what I thought were amazing HDR images to find out that I had committed the HDR sins of ghosting and/or (even worse, the dreaded…) haloing! OMG! NO! The haloing effect? How could I have done that?

Actually my response was, “What the heck is haloing?” Seriously, I didn’t know. I was just learning. I had barely figured out how to set up my camera to shoot three bracketed exposures. The term halo sounded like it had to do with an angel – isn’t that good?

Yes, I had received a few comments in my public comment forums that were telling me that haloing is not a good thing and I should remove it.Now all-in-all that isn’t a bad comment. But they were left with an arrogant “You should know better! How could you?!” tone. And even worse was the fact that those particular ones did not give me any “how to’s” on what I needed in order to correct or better yet, avoid the dreaded halo.

Once again, I was on a mission to learn. And I did. I searched tutorials, information and even photo forums on how to avoid creating such images. I still have trouble with those two areas to this day – haloing effect and ghosting.

Although I’m not going to give details on how to avoid these two HDR sins (I’ll leave that to you to search out for yourself. It isn’t hard – just google and you will be bombarded with all sorts of answers and tutorials.) I am going to share what these two things mean in the case you are like I was…clueless.

The Two Biggest HDR Boo-boos:

1) Ghosting: In some cases this isn’t a bad thing. It can actually bring a certain amount if mystique or character to the image. What is it? The best way I know how to explain it is just as it sounds…looks like there is a ghost in the image. If you are shooting a subject that has moving parts – whether people, trees blowing in the wind or any other object that is not still, it can cause what looks like ghosts in the image. This is due to the fact that your brackets shots, no matter how fast your camera is, has captured the moving object in different stages. When these images are combined into one, there is usually one capture of the moving object that is strongest and the other two appear as ghosts.

Like I said, this can sometimes be to your advantage in creating a very interesting photo. Other times it can be distracting. One of my photos received true constructive criticism. It was a photo of an old shed with trees surrounding it. The wind was blowing that day and the commenter made mention that it must have been very windy as he could see ghosts in the leaves. He then went on to explain that when he has a photo like that – one that could leave obvious duplicate artifacts –  that he would typically create duplicate images of the correctly exposed one and then manually lower and raise the exposure levels in the other images. That way there would be no possibility of getting ghosting artifacts in the image. Now THAT is what I needed to know! I appreciated his teaching me that little nugget.

2) Haloing: If you are not familiar with what this is, look at your HDR images. If you notice a (usually) white outline around your object that separates one thing from another, that is a halo. It is most commonly found in skies. When you can see an outline, it draws the eye to it instead of the subject of the photo and can be distracting. Most times with a few simple adjustments in the tone-mapping process, these can be avoided.

This is the area in which I received the most criticism. You have to remember, I was new at HDR, just learning, clueless, however you want to describe it. In addition, desired to be taught – to learn – not to be put down and discouraged. What is funniest to me about this is the fact that on one comment in particular, I decided since the “expert” did not give me any tips on how to correct this issue (but rather left the comment very critical) that I would go search his photostream to see if I could figure out how to avoid this. What I discovered made me feel so much better! I found that in his own photostream, some of his first HDR photos published also had haloing effects to them. Ha! I guess he had forgotten to remove his own learning mistakes as he progressed into a “professional.”

The moral of this story? We are all living and learning! “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1 Hopefully as a result of this post, if you are one who is just beginning to dabble in HDR photography, you will avoid being embarrassed as I was.

Yes, if even one person is spared humiliation in the name of constructive criticism, then my job is done! 

Happy shooting! 


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