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Posted August 2, 2012
Is HDR photography like French cooking? Complicated, scary and unapproachable. Not really. Just as Julia Child took the mystery out of French cooking for her audience, so does Harold Davis in his latest book, Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range. Making HDR understandable and approachable is Harold's goal, and he succeeds. Dynamic range or tonal range of a photo renders the spectrum from light to dark in that image. It is an interpretation closer to what your own eye can see in a particular setting that the camera is not able to completely record. When shooting in the RAW format, you can open the range to enhance both the highlights and shadows, the darks and lights to render a very vivid image. Depending upon your approach, often HDR processing can lack realism; however, Harold approaches this work to help you achieve a level of authenticity to an image that can essentially 'pop' off the page. Harold instructs that the key to successful HDR imaging is the need to pre-visualize the image you want. He encourages practice and experimentation to hone your pre-visualization skills, so you can take multiple photos to pick up the range you want to blend with HDR processing. Harold explains the many ways to process HDR images with multi-processing of a single RAW image, multiple photo processing using 'bracketed' images, and using software to either process or blend the image for the final product. At all points, he stresses the need to use good artistic judgment in your photography and image processing. I particularly enjoy his pedagogical writing style demonstrated by how his books are set up. The books are divided into sections: Understanding HDR, Shooting for HDR, HDR in the Digital Darkroom, Travels in the Land of HDR, Finishing the Image, and Resources. This is an effective way to both logically present the subject, as well as structuring the book to be an effective reference tool. For example, the first section explains the realm of HDR beyond dry theory with practical applications. Throughout this and other works by Davis, he provides well annotated images that demonstrate the principal or technique that is being covered. In the Digital Darkroom, he clearly explains the different techniques using the software needed to deliver the HDR image. I highly recommend this book. It will advance your interest in HDR photography, and reward you with understanding and a recipe for success.
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Posted December 28, 2012
I think Creating HDR Photos is a very good read, but only if you're heavily into editing or have more photographic subjects than just nature/landscape and sky shots.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2012
Harold Davis does a great job of explaining how to use HDR to get the full range of tones, details, and colors in your photographs without looking "cartoonish".Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 6, 2012
This is an excellent book on HDR with well presented how-to's , alternative approaches and many illustrations. It is easy to read, interesting and inspiring. It is a well compiled, illustrated and clearly written book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 19, 2012
Whether he is writing a book, giving a webinar, or (presumably, though I
have no direct experience of this) teaching a workshop, certain things
are consistently true about Harold Davis: 1. He is a skilled,
enthusiastic, even passionate teacher. 2. He communicates very clearly.
In Harold Davis you have a mentor, a friend who loves what he does and
is eager to share it with you so that you can enjoy doing it as well.
And he does this in a clear, informal writing style that never
degenerates into condescension or into annoying humor. Quite simply, he
wants you to learn. He demystifies what it’s all about, assuring you
that it’s quite easy. Most importantly, in opening up the world of HDR
he points out, more than once, that HDR is not an end in itself but a
technique to be used in service of your artistic expression. If your
first reaction on seeing a photo is awareness of technique, then
something is wrong. I find this encouraging, because there are photo
websites that pointedly highlight soulless photos that do nothing but
show off the photographer’s technical prowess. Davis is one prominent
photographer who reacts against this (Rob Sheppard is another who comes
to mind), and I’m glad to see this happening. If you’ve dismissed HDR as
nothing more than a process of creating unnatural-looking eye-candy
images, Davis shows convincingly that this is not true at all—and he has
historical evidence to support him as he relates HDR to processing
methods used by the great photographers before digital was ever thought
of. As an author, Davis is a publisher’s dream. In his Intro he tells
you what he will be teaching (to novices as well as to those with some
experience of HDR), dispels myths about HDR, explains how his book
differs from others on the subject (and, by implication, why it’s
better), and describes what HDR is—and then throughout the book he
fulfills what he has promised. Creating HDR Photos is well organized and
designed to encourage the reader to press on. The opening chapters offer
a survey of the different methods for creating HDR photos—from capture
through to postprocessing—along with summaries of how it’s done. The
author’s own photos on these pages are accompanied by a description of
the process he used, and they act as “teasers” to make you want to go
further, to read, in later chapters, the details of how to use these
techniques. And if one technique strikes you as so interesting that you
want to skip and learn more about that one immediately, those intro
chapters helpfully provide the page numbers on which to find that
detailed guidance. The book finishes with a list of resources, a very
helpful glossary of terms, and a well-organized index. Davis claims that
reading this book is the next best thing to attending one of his
workshops. I can well believe that. If you want to learn about HDR from
a knowledgeable, nonintimidating teacher, then buy Creating HDR Photos.
Posted August 14, 2012
Finally, a book on HDR that shows you how to use this technique to enhance your photos to make them special not just turn out HDR images.
You will find that Creating HDR Photos succeeds on many levels.
Inspirationally, the images in the book will make you want to grab your camera and start shooting. And to this end, Mr. Davis details what you need and how you should proceed to capture the images necessary for the HDR process in the section Shooting For HDR.
Technically, the author does a wonderful job of not only describing how to set up to shoot HDR images, but he also covers processing your images in some of the most popular automated software, but even more importantly, how to use the technique of HDR without software. You’ll find this and more in the section HDR In The Digital Darkroom.
This brings me to what I feel is the best thing about this book. Mr. Davis shows you how to use the technique of HDR to enhance your photos to make them better. Most books on HDR are more concerned with the process of HDR, as if that were an end in itself. Mr. Davis approaches the use of HDR as a tool, like many other tools in the digital darkroom, to be used to make a good photo better, and a superb photo exceptional.
He does this through a series of well thought out and detailed case studies where he takes you step by step through the entire process of turning out an HDR enhanced image. He shows you how to process your image using Photomatix, Nik HDR Efex Pro, HDR Pro in Photoshop, and how to use Multi -Raw processing for hand HDR.
As for the images contained within the book, aside from being extremely inspirational, Mr. Davis gives you all the relevant information pertaining to how the photographs were taken; additionally, he describes the field conditions they were shot in.
The book is broken down into five sections which present the information in a logical progression, so that each area builds upon that which came before. By the time you reach the end of the book, you will have a very thorough understanding of how to use this tool, HDR, to improve your images.
All told, this is one of the most interesting and informative books on photography that I’ve read. I highly recommend it.
I’d like to say a word about the author, Harold Davis. Having authored or co-authored numerous articles, manuals and been published in peer reviewed journals, I have a good idea of just how hard it is to continually turn out material at the highest level. Harold Davis is one of those rare authors who has mastered his craft at a level most folks wish they could reach just once. He brings a depth of knowledge, ability to write concisely, and most importantly, the ability to convey his ideas and technical know how clearly, so that readers of all levels of experience can benefit from his books.
Posted August 9, 2012
I have known for a while how an HDR photo is made, bracket the shot and combine the images. That's all I knew. Harold Davis's book is a wonder of education in not only how to, but where and why to use HDR.
He starts with a history of HDR and builds into step by step processes for creating an HDR photo. His illustrative photos are nothing short of fantastic. He shows step by step how to create each image. Davis breaks it down into the specific software he used. The meat of the book, and the part of the greatest practical use, are step by step instructions on how to use the various HDR software programs to create amazing photos. Brand new to me was how to use a single RAW image to create an HDR.
If you have any interest in HDR, this book is for you. It is very easy to read cover to cover. I will be keeping it by my computer until I feel comfortable with the whole process.
If I have one quibble, it concerns the software he uses. Obviously, you need software to combine the shots. Davis says you need to finish the photo after combining the shots. His only program for doing that is Photoshop. I am sure there are many photographers who would like to do HDR (such as myself) who do not have Photoshop, but do have other photo finishing software. A nod to the usage of any of these programs would have been appreciated.
As I said, a quibble. I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone interested in HDR. The learning curve is not steep.
Posted May 3, 2013
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