HDR...is it dead?

I've had conversations lately with other photographers about HDR, or High Dynamic Range Photography, and weather or not the process is even needed as a tool any longer.

The reason I even question this is the ability of new sensors to capture such a huge dynamic range.  For example, I have the Sony A7S, I've seen tests where they say the sensor on that camera has a dynamic range of 14.5 stops!  That's huge!  When you compare that to just a few years ago when HDR was at a very popular point, sensors were recording 4, 6 or maybe 8 stops of dynamic range.  

So, is HDR dead?  I don't know if I would say it's dead by any means.  I am using it less and less now because I've pretty much switched to all Sony bodies and the sensors are amazing in these things for dynamic range.  I will still use it from time to time when there is a very large range of light in a scene, but that is not very often for me.

One thing I really am not doing anymore is what I called "exposure blending".  I used to take an image that would expose for the sky, say in a landscape image.  Then I would take a separate exposure for the foreground.  In post, I would "blend" those images together in Photoshop using layer masks to give a balanced exposure, as if you would get when using a graduated ND filter.  I have pretty much eliminated that whole process from my workflow based on how much range and information I can pull out of a single RAW file from my Sony bodies.

With that question out there, let me share an image I made a few years back at Old Car City in White, GA.  This scene caught my eye for many reasons, but one being the AM Radio Logo.  I am a fan of classic country music and it seems all the good AM stations that used to play it are all gone these days, so the logo is somewhat reminiscent for me.

ISO 100, 15mm, F/8 at varied shutter speeds for HDR

ISO 100, 15mm, F/8 at varied shutter speeds for HDR

So tell me are you still using HDR?  More or less than you used to?

Instrument Panel

While I was walking around Old Car City USA this past Friday, I noticed an instrument panel with all the gauges on it laying on the ground.  I decided it would photograph much better on the bed of an old pick up truck. 

After placing the instrument panel on the bed rail of this pick up I decided I wanted to shoot it at a very shallow depth of field.  I was using my Tamron 24-70 mm F/2.8 Lens on mt Sony A7R via the Metabones lens adapter.  I zoomed in on the gauge cluster a tad, opened my aperture up to F/4.0 and checked my LCD...yup that's shallow enough ;)

ISO 100. 40mm,  F/4.0,  1/20th second

ISO 100. 40mm,  F/4.0,  1/20th second

Above is the final result.  

The moral:  Sometimes as photographers we need to "place" things into our compositions.  Sometimes this is a leaf on a rock in the foreground and other times it's an instrument panel from a Chevy on a pickup truck.  Whatever it is, don't be afraid to "place" objects in the scene to help make the image stronger.  

If you do move something into your frame, it's always good practice to place it back where it was originally once you are done.