Every art form has to evolve, and I'm a big fan of this notion I have that despite the inevitability of artistic evolution, it is quite possible that the best form of the art is confined to a particular period.
So, even though HDR is here and likely here to stay, it's looking like I'm going to end up being one of those fusty photographers that never uses it out of philosophic indignation.
HDR is High Dynamic Range; in short, it allows you to photograph a scene at several different exposures from low to high, then include all of the light so that what you see is closer to what your eye normally sees. So, while it's a typical struggle to photograph, say, at sunset and keep the details of the shadows, HDR will keep the best light in the sky and also the best light in the shadows, giving you a more vibrant picture that doesn't have any weak spots.
Here's a basic example of HDR:
Pretty cool, right?!
When HDR is done right (and I use that term sparingly...) it does have a "painterly" effect, and can even be legitimately beautiful. But even that teeters too far into the territory I spoke of in an earlier post - when photos, in post-processing, get so far off course as to not even accurately portray the area or object. Some people take it waaaay too far and their pictures end up looking like some bizarre, extremely precise paint-by-numbers.
Or, hell, a cartoon. Pixar. Even the cathedral picture looks like I could have seen it any afternoon in junior high on a haunting episode of Batman.
Of course, I do admit that art photography is valid and can especially be fun to create and tinker with.
So, why do I have a problem with HDR?
I don't know. There's just something about it that doesn't feel right. If I ever get the chance and the equipment to try it, I will - it's good to be learned. Somehow, though, I can only see people taking this invention too far and getting a very skewed idea of what the best photography should be.
(photos courtesy of www.blog.makezine.com, www.digital-foto-web.com)