A World in HDR – review

World in HDR

World in HDR

I finally got around to reading Trey Ratcliff’s new book, A World in HDR. In a blog post a few days ago, I mentioned that I recently met Trey and was fortunate to attend his HDR (high dynamic range) image workshop in Tampa. I had already pre-purchased his book, but I confess I just now got around to reading it! Not just pursuing his amazing images, but actually reading it (quite a concept, no?).

First of all, the image quality of his pictures in the book are good, but you really need to go to his website to get the full impact. I’m afraid the printing quality is unable to do justice to the tones and colors in the digital versions. It occurred to me as I flipped through the book how amazing these images would be once enlarged to poster size prints.

However, there is one section of the book that I really want to comment on. Although the book does contain a tutorial for creating HDR images in the end, Trey urges the reader to use that merely as a foundation to build on. He does describe briefly the thought process and software he used on each individual image, which is likely more important than the step by step process that he uses.

Trey goes on to explain that he really doesn’t believe in giving out a step by step process. He believes that doing so (such as in most of our education systems) demonstrates the ‘how’ but never addresses the ‘why’. In other words, if you follow a recipe, you will end up with the same results every time, but if everyone did that, there would be no innovation or creativity and there would be no new recipes! He presents examples such as the early French impressionist painters such as Monet, Pissarro, and Renoir whose work was really discovered and approved by the public and not the artistic community at the time. The work of these impressionists was just too radical and different for the prevailing art community.

His comments go right to the heart of the problem I see with a lot of workshops. What good is it to adopt someone else’s style and methods without adapting and building upon that work? After all, the workshop presenter is already creating his/her images that way, so what good is it for the attendees to go and create the identical type of images? Where is the creativity and innovation?

Trey urges the reader to take the essence of what he is doing, then add a big dash of yourself and go create something new and wonderful as well! I couldn’t agree more.

I recommend grabbing a copy of A World in HDR, and don’t just look at the pretty pictures –read it, then go out and be creative!

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2 Responses to “A World in HDR – review”

  1. Thanks and I agree with the concept. But there are some basics that need to be taught before one can create and become a master. Picasso was a master of the craft at the age of 15, after which he went off and did other art forms, but with a thorough foundation that made his works amazing. In other words he knew what he was doing all the time.
    I see for myself I have been doing HDR and struggled trying to “reinvent the wheel” so after a bit of a hard time I decided I would try and do “copies” of stuff other photographers have done and try to understand how they did it. I learnt quite a lot doing that. Once that is understood it is easier to develop one’s own style and “divert from the rules”.
    http://martinsoler.com/category/hdr

    • Hi Martin and thank you for your thoughtful reply! I agree with you that one must learn the basics and the “rules” (notice the quotes!!!) then dare to try something different! No – it isn’t at all easy and I struggle too and often copy styles and techniques that I see. After all, we all have a little bit different way of looking at the world and I believe it is Rick Sammon who says, “the camera looks both ways”!

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