by Jim Austin MA, ACE, http://jimaustin.squarespace.com/
Today, photography is shaped by the technology of our digital information age. Photographs can be dishonest or honest. Since an HDR images can serve commercial, advertising, amateur and many other purposes, the motivation behind the image is important. A central core issue that makes a modern digital image interesting is the character of the photographer.
Borrowing a page from Walker Evans, an important master photographer of whom entire biographies have been written, I’ve chosen four characteristics of authentic honest HDR photographers. HDR photographers could strive for these qualities:
1. They have absolute fidelity to the medium of photography. They use the camera as the incredible instrument of symbolic actuality that it is.
2. They use HDR methods to serve a larger purpose than the technique itself. If they use tone mapping, exposure fusion, or Orton the bracketed exposures are processed to create an uncontrived result.
3. Composition is everything. The HDR work shows a rightness of framing-what is put in and what is left out. They define their image space distinctly.
4. They employ a general, but unobtrusive technical mastery with their HDR processing.
Walker Evans, working briefly for the Farm Security Administration during the Depression, developed these 4 criteria in defining the qualities of seasoned photographers. In the hands of these photographers, the camera and software are instruments of symbolic actuality.
Each photographer expresses the feeling of the land in their image and chose to use HDR techniques as working methods, not as their primary concern. The HDR master puts no unnecessary visual elements in the composition. What they put in the frame belongs there.