Abstract Spring HDR Tulip Landscape – Debating HDR Aesthetics

Spring Flower Art – Part 2 from the Pacific Northwest

Digital HDR Northwest Nature Photography Spring

I know that some people are going to despise this photograph, which is fine. I know this digital image isn’t a true rendering of the scene relative to what I saw with my own eye while I was took it.

The flowers are over-saturated, the tint of the sky is inaccurate, and the clouds have three or four times the level of contrast – and that’s just for starters.

I would have turned my nose at a photo like this a year ago. Questioning why I disliked these high-processed images, I realized the sole cause of my distaste was rooted in the fact that HDR prints don’t look like the image my eyes and brain are visually interpreting.

Most traditional photography depicts a scene similar to what our own eye sees. But film and early digital photography display a range of light that is smaller then our eye’s visible range – so while a traditional photos will never look unreal or fake, their dimness, or dreary dark qualities are due to this limited range of light at an analog camera’s capable disposal.

When I learned what HDR was, I began to appreciate these heavily processed shots alongside the other brilliant more naturally captured images. HDR is simply able to capture a greater range of light then what traditional photography and our own eyes can capture.

If you can accept what abstract HDR renderings are – simply another artistic interpretation of the same scene, from an entirely different lens – one able to capture light ranges at levels greater then our own eye’s can view, and thus one that looks fake and impossibly bright relative to what we recall and know it to be – then this photograph is a unique perspective of these Skagit Valley Springtime Tulips.

But without this interpretation, one will always think HDR abstract photography is ugly, fake and worthless. Just because a photo doesn’t look real, does that make it inherently ugly/bad? I don’t think it necessarily should, and I know that it doesn’t for me.

I’m publishing my abstract high dynamic range photography alongside the natural depictions in an effort to engage in this question of digital photographic aesthetics:

Why does an aesthetic photograph require a likeness to our own eyes to be considered of value?

Do you have a better reason to dislike HDR photography like the image in this post? Whatever your opinion – positive or negative – I’d love to hear it.

Feel free to comment in the text box at the bottom of this page.

Thanks for stopping by.

4 thoughts on “Abstract Spring HDR Tulip Landscape – Debating HDR Aesthetics

  1. I am conflicted about HDR. Sometimes, too much processing makes a scene look flat and badly colored. I really dislike fuzzy waterfalls especially. But I have seen some landscapes that have space and brilliant color that is very much like what I see. We see clouds better than any normal camera, for instance. We see color better. We never see highlights the way a camera does, and none of my outdoor photographs look right until I tone down the highlights or remember my Polaroid filter! Good luck with the photography. Liked the dimension in the clouds.

Leave a Reply