HDR tone mapping has become increasingly popular amongst photographers as a post-processing technique, where several exposures at different shutter speeds are combined to produce an HDR image, followed by a tone mapping operation. This has unfortunately, in several instances, become particularly prevalent with architectural photography when trying to capture high-contrast scenes whereby the shooter can retain detail in both the highlight and shadow area of the scene. Tone mapping can also be performed on a single image, as was the case with the attached image, although the effect is less pronounced, especially in the amount of detail that can be captured. The final result can often look quite stunning with rich detail in all areas of the image, deep color and tone and with an overall dramatic and clean appearance.

But you ask, “Why unfortunately?” I was recently perusing a web site that was displaying predominantly HDR tone mapped, architectural images and was struck how cold my response was to the images. Truthfully, they simply did not look real, rather they were closer to drawings in appearance, had no subtle gradations of light, little warmth or evocation of mood and with an overall homogenous look that did not draw me into the scene. I didn’t want to live there!

It brought to mind a wonderful book, Timeless Interiors, author Alex Vervoordt, with stunning architectural photography by Christian Sarramon, where the scenes have been carefully reproduced using existing light that I am guessing was only gently enhanced and manipulated to paint the scene as naturally as possible. The images bring one back in time and, time and again I found myself wanting to settle into and be a part of the scene. I wanted to live there!

With the accompanying images to this article, one was photographed using existing light with minimal enhancement of the scene using professional strobes, two strobes in this instance, while the other image has been single image tone mapped to deepen tones and enhance detail. If the scene had been photographed using HDR technique whereby several exposures were melded together in post-processing and then tone mapped the result would produce even more detail in the highlight and shadow areas and have an even ‘cleaner’ almost surreal look. The second image with much warmer tones, to my mind much better portrays the living room’s warmth and comfort and does not have the over-processed, homogeneously even lighting and lack of subtlety found in the tone mapped image. The eye is drawn through the welcoming, homey scene to the piano, which is bathed in light from the adjacent window.

Admittedly, the tone mapped example is rather coarse and tone mapping can certainly have its place in all forms of photography, but I believe it is overused far too often and relied upon as a ‘quick and dirty’ solution to photographing a scene where the desired end result is big, bold and dramatic. I believe it typically lacks soul and realism and the true art form of architectural and other areas of photography is being lost. I have been as guilty as many in its use, but have increasingly being finding myself pulling back and returning to the old art form of photography that always tried to emulate the great painters of the past and present.

The David Watt Photography Blog

I came across this item in Kevin Dooley's Flickr blog posting and it very much resonated with me, and have decided to share it here. This is something that I have been tossing about in my mind for the past few years and am going to follow up this blog posting with others along the same subject. Constructive feedback will be most welcome!
I recently was hired for the challenging and exciting task of flying to several major centres across Canada to photograph executive environmental portraits and employee headshots for a major Canadian engineering firm. For obvious budget considerations the logistics were challenging as on-site scheduling was very tight, I had to work without an assistant and of course, photography gear had to be kept to an absolute minimum. These are a small sampling of the environmental executive portraits I captured. Typically, I only had a only a day or two at each location to capture anywhere up to 18 or so environmental portraits using a single Profoto Octagonal softbox. I met the challenge and had a very satisfied client!
This was one of the more satisfying architectural shoots I had the pleasure of completing for my client, Morguard.
I was pleased to learn that one of my images from the DMD Ltd Toronto design firm photo shoot of the Swissport Aspire Lounge at the Calgary International airport was published in the January/February 2019 issue of Canadian Interiors.
This was a challenging area to shoot in, not only for the monochrome look to the room, but avoiding the powder coating spray.

11/29/2016

While meeting with a new client the other day, she related that she almost steered away from my photography services upon first landing on my web site. She had perused my portfolios, checked out my client list and after her initial favorable reaction her inclination was to move on, ‘as probably too expensive for our present budget constraints.’
As a photographer who has been plying his trade full-time in Calgary for over 15 years, it has often crossed my mind that I may be in a unique position to provide relevant and perhaps not readily obvious information to those often finding themselves tasked with seeking a photographer for a photography shoot, be it for corporate head-shots, an industrial on-site shoot, architectural or any of the other plethora of photography needs.
I was recently wading through hundreds of my archived images when I came across an image of a Brocken Spectre surrounded by rings of glory, (my climbing partner with arms extended) taken from the summit ridge of Mt. Slesse many, many years ago. It reminded me of another amazing Brocken Spectre that I had observed a few years ago while my BA flight was descending into Berlin. Our 737 was casting its shadow against the mist which had formed into a magnificent Brocken Spectre surrounded by a circular rainbow. Who saw it?
This was a cool photography session at the Alberta Children's Hospital, where I was introduced to #Medi, a robot using humanoid technology created by the #RxRobots group to help alleviate a sick child's pain, assist in the child's education in managing their health and act as a companion for the child. Very cool, indeed!
As New York ad agencies endeavor to portray a perception of excellence on their web sites, surely they would display outstanding images of their people alongside visually stimulating content relating to their work and company culture?
HDR tone mapping has become increasingly popular amongst photographers as a post-processing technique, where several exposures at different shutter speeds are combined to produce an HDR image, followed by a tone mapping operation.
The longer I am in this business the more it gets driven home how vitally important preparation and planning with absolute client commitment is to the successful outcome of a photo session.

Architectural Photography & HDR Tone mapping - Is It Overused?

3/20/2015

HDR tone mapping has become increasingly popular amongst photographers as a post-processing technique, where several exposures at different shutter speeds are combined to produce an HDR image, followed by a tone mapping operation. This has unfortunately, in several instances, become particularly prevalent with architectural photography when trying to capture high-contrast scenes whereby the shooter can retain detail in both the highlight and shadow area of the scene. Tone mapping can also be performed on a single image, as was the case with the attached image, although the effect is less pronounced, especially in the amount of detail that can be captured. The final result can often look quite stunning with rich detail in all areas of the image, deep color and tone and with an overall dramatic and clean appearance.

But you ask, “Why unfortunately?” I was recently perusing a web site that was displaying predominantly HDR tone mapped, architectural images and was struck how cold my response was to the images. Truthfully, they simply did not look real, rather they were closer to drawings in appearance, had no subtle gradations of light, little warmth or evocation of mood and with an overall homogenous look that did not draw me into the scene. I didn’t want to live there!

It brought to mind a wonderful book, Timeless Interiors, author Alex Vervoordt, with stunning architectural photography by Christian Sarramon, where the scenes have been carefully reproduced using existing light that I am guessing was only gently enhanced and manipulated to paint the scene as naturally as possible. The images bring one back in time and, time and again I found myself wanting to settle into and be a part of the scene. I wanted to live there!

With the accompanying images to this article, one was photographed using existing light with minimal enhancement of the scene using professional strobes, two strobes in this instance, while the other image has been single image tone mapped to deepen tones and enhance detail. If the scene had been photographed using HDR technique whereby several exposures were melded together in post-processing and then tone mapped the result would produce even more detail in the highlight and shadow areas and have an even ‘cleaner’ almost surreal look. The second image with much warmer tones, to my mind much better portrays the living room’s warmth and comfort and does not have the over-processed, homogeneously even lighting and lack of subtlety found in the tone mapped image. The eye is drawn through the welcoming, homey scene to the piano, which is bathed in light from the adjacent window.

Admittedly, the tone mapped example is rather coarse and tone mapping can certainly have its place in all forms of photography, but I believe it is overused far too often and relied upon as a ‘quick and dirty’ solution to photographing a scene where the desired end result is big, bold and dramatic. I believe it typically lacks soul and realism and the true art form of architectural and other areas of photography is being lost. I have been as guilty as many in its use, but have increasingly being finding myself pulling back and returning to the old art form of photography that always tried to emulate the great painters of the past and present.

Non-Tonemapped image

Tonemapped Image