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HDRi Images of Tokyo
July 21, 2009 8:56 PM   Subscribe

High Dynamic Range 'photosketches' of Tokyo from Toshiro, and a site in Japanese containing hundreds more photographs that seem more real than real. posted by kanewai (42 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
They're amazing looking.
posted by tellurian at 9:17 PM on July 21, 2009


Wow!
posted by tellurian at 9:22 PM on July 21, 2009


I don't think these pictures make Tokyo look "cold and inhospitable" at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.
posted by ErWenn at 9:34 PM on July 21, 2009


These are gorgeous. Photo "sketch", indeed.

In the same vein of beautiful surreality: HDR Infrared on Flickr.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:35 PM on July 21, 2009


Lots of these pictures look like they're purely computer generated, like from a video game or something.
posted by mathlete at 9:37 PM on July 21, 2009


These are horrible. I used to think HDR was pretty cool, and it is possible to make some beautiful images, but these are particularly poor in my opinion. There are tons and tons of images like these that are just way too contrasty, grainy, lack depth, and aren't even particularly interesting beyond the visual effect.
posted by pkingdesign at 9:37 PM on July 21, 2009


HDR can be truly beautiful if done with restraint, which ends up merely enhancing the original photo. This is a bit like running great photos through a photoshop filter twice, or in other words, way overdone.
posted by neewom at 9:43 PM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just don't see how these are "more real than real". If anything, they look entirely surreal. That alone may be cool enough to justify making these, but trying to emulate what my eyes actually see was clearly not the motive behind these images.
posted by reformedjerk at 9:48 PM on July 21, 2009


I used to think HDR was pretty cool

HDR is just a tool, and it's a shame that it has become associated with these sorts of stylized, over-produced digital images. Really, HDR was designed to compensate for a camera's poor dynamic range compared to the human eye's. A top-notch HDR image shouldn't look "more real than real," it should approximate reality. Or "reality," for all you metaphysicists.
posted by martens at 9:49 PM on July 21, 2009


Sick to death of HDRI. Over dramatized skies and lurid landscapes.

Flickr is full of it- like tilt-shift- a fad. Can we move on as soon as possible?
posted by marvin at 10:03 PM on July 21, 2009


I used to think HDR was pretty cool

I somewhat intentionally over simplified when wrote that... what I meant was that I thought the technology / technique was cool when I first learned about it, but now the volume of garbage it's helped produced have kind of ruined it for me. We agree that it is possible for HDR to make a beautiful image, I just rarely see that as an end result.
posted by pkingdesign at 10:17 PM on July 21, 2009


HDR was cool for like a week when it was first, I don't know "discovered"? The problem is that most people just sucked at it, produce way over contrasted pictures like visual candy. There are lots of pictures like that on the site.

I thought the original idea was to show more then you would see in a normal image, but what ended up happening was people just through their images through highpass filters (you can tell by the 'glow' around dark objects this of that) and essentially just compressed the dynamic range of pictures that could be taken normally.

Pictures like this and this appear to be done 'correctly' There are things which are dark and things that are light, but if you took a normal exposure, parts of the image would be all black or all white.
posted by delmoi at 10:21 PM on July 21, 2009


I had heard of HDR, but had never thought about it - IANAP. Went to wikipedia for some information.

The technique does seem to be ubiquitous, but like all stylizations, there are good and bad examples. The surreal nature of a lot of these was interesting. I like the soft focus in some of the night shots in the first link, though like delmoi points out, that might just be a by product of the process(?).

I just like 'em cause they're pretty.
posted by Xoebe at 10:42 PM on July 21, 2009


As much as I hate HDR (and similar fads), I've yet to see one of these types of image treatments in print. Good money says it's similarly awful, but then I think that even Stieglitz looks like shit on-screen.
posted by m-a-s-o-n at 11:26 PM on July 21, 2009


Damn you, Paul Debevec!

(seriously though, cool research, cool tech, bad push-button art)
posted by hanoixan at 11:47 PM on July 21, 2009


My biggest beef with HDR is, as delmoi pointed out, the "halo" around most objects backed by the sky. It's one thing to try to enhance the range of contrasts. That effect just looks bad.
posted by vernondalhart at 12:50 AM on July 22, 2009


There's something other than the plain HDR going on here, which makes a number of the images with a distinct foreground and background appear to pop out of the page almost like a 3D effect. I'm guessing it's to do with increasing the contrast and detail of the foreground in comparison to the background, but I'd be interested in an English explanation of how it's done and why the eye goes for it.
posted by BobInce at 1:03 AM on July 22, 2009


There's something other than the plain HDR going on here...

Bobince, can you provide an example? To me, they just look like perfectly nice pictures that have been over-processed, and I don't see any that stand out sufficiently.
posted by Magnakai at 1:35 AM on July 22, 2009


I've actually made use of HDR professionally - the client knew what HDR was, but just commented on them being well-exposed pictures, and was surprised when I told him they were HDR. I used the technique to take pictures inside bars and hotels, essentially to bring out the dark internal detail without the image being flooded out by the bright windows.

And, I can tell you the "halo" effect is completely avoidable. But the weird thing is, it seems to be what attracts some people to the technique. I've seen a "fake HDR" plugin for Photoshop which does nothing more than increase the contrast, saturation, and add a halo. Boggles my mind.
posted by Jimbob at 1:51 AM on July 22, 2009


I'd guess that he's simply burying the recovery, fill and clarity sliders on the right side of the Lightroom window, possibly exaggerating the effect with an extra layer or two. But the reason the eye "goes for it" is simple: you don't see it in reality, it looks nothing like reality, therefore unusual. This is not "hyper-real" or "realer than real" or even close. It's HDR, the big-ass Sears velvet painting of our time.
posted by Poagao at 1:57 AM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I hate this.

And Poagao nailed it: velvet Elvis indeed.
posted by bwg at 2:25 AM on July 22, 2009


Kinda cool, the wide angles are good...but a bit oversaturated and blurry for my taste.
posted by rmmcclay at 2:39 AM on July 22, 2009


I used the technique to take pictures inside bars and hotels, essentially to bring out the dark internal detail without the image being flooded out by the bright windows.

There's a reason professionals use strobes and soft boxes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:56 AM on July 22, 2009


I've got mixed feelings about HDR... it can be ok, and I've tried it out but these don't really seem like stellar examples of what the effect can achieve.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:35 AM on July 22, 2009


There's a reason professionals use strobes and soft boxes.

When I'm being paid $40 a photo to take pictures inside restauraunts while the customers are going about eating their meals, that wasn't really an option.
posted by Jimbob at 3:44 AM on July 22, 2009


Well, you could also use a fast lens and drag the shutter.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:36 AM on July 22, 2009


...unless you weren't allowed to use flash, of course.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:38 AM on July 22, 2009


Wow!

Holy shit! That pigeon has the rage virus!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:04 AM on July 22, 2009


Can somebody please explain this giant robot.
posted by signal at 6:08 AM on July 22, 2009


Ugh, so tired over overdone HDR. When done right, you don't even notice it. All these shots are just horrible.

You know, IMHO and all that jazz.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:12 AM on July 22, 2009


What, no tripod?

Is this even necessary for night work? I used HDR during the day when I'm at risk of blowing out the top end.

I still really like them.
posted by butterstick at 6:51 AM on July 22, 2009


Regardless of whether photographers choose to overdue the HDR effect, the fact remains that most image sensors have shitty dynamic range. I am really anxious to see automated bracketing + tonemapping show up in newer cameras such as the one Fuji announced today.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:52 AM on July 22, 2009


Can somebody please explain this giant robot.
C.F. the Tokyo Gundam thread
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:56 AM on July 22, 2009


the fact remains that most image sensors have shitty dynamic range

Film suffers from the same problem. Heck, your eyes have the same problem. The only difference is that your eyes are constantly adjusting, while a photograph represents a fixed moment in time. Good photographers understand this fundamental limitation and compensate in a number of different ways (grad filters, dragging shutters, changing the framing of the composition to eliminate wide dynamic range scenes, etc.)

The problem with HDR is in the compositing, which is why you see tell-tale halos (always worse around hair, or other elements that can't be easily masked).

So far the best solution I've seen is to get a camera with a ludicrously high frame rate, then firing a series of bracketed exposures all in one go. Provided the slow bracket frame isn't terribly slow, you should be able to minimize subject movement. And if you're shooting landscapes, you're golden!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:40 AM on July 22, 2009


I like the HDR technique, so I'll try to stay off everyone's lawns. It's pretty seductive to the average photographer. It offers the chance to do the impossible and get images that your equipment normally would be unable to capture. It's possible to get this same effect with a professional lighting kit as well, but then as Jimbob points out, that's not always practical.

It can be abused or used with poor aesthetic taste, but then again so can practically any filter or image adjustment in Photoshop. Hating HDR technique is like hating crescent wrenches.
posted by mullingitover at 9:11 AM on July 22, 2009


Lots of these pictures look like they're purely computer generated, like from a video game or something.

Seriously. In fact, they look like *old* video games. Looking at the phone booth photo, my first reaction was, "I need to check the next-gen graphics box." And that asian gazebo-type thing looks like something out of one of the Unreal games.
posted by straight at 9:18 AM on July 22, 2009


It's not surprising that HDR photography would be reminiscent of video games. Many of the newer game engines have HDR features, adjusting the exposure level based on what the camera is pointing at. The only difference is that the photographs aren't adjusting the exposure level based on what you're looking at in the shot.

The ideal HDR photography solution would require a camera tracking the viewer's eyes, and dynamically adjusting the photograph's exposure based on what part of the shot the viewer was examining.
posted by mullingitover at 9:25 AM on July 22, 2009


It makes everything look like rendered 3D images. Is there a reverse HDR than can be applied to computer games so they look real?
posted by Damienmce at 10:20 AM on July 22, 2009


A friend of mine did this for Edinburgh. It does make everything look like a 3D game... it's the texture.
posted by yoHighness at 5:04 PM on July 22, 2009


texture
posted by yoHighness at 5:12 PM on July 22, 2009


The original blog conveniently had a high-res version of the one I knew was destined to my next desktop background (a momentous twice a year occaision!)
now I can stare at it all day long!
posted by rubah at 4:32 PM on July 23, 2009


I hate crescent wrenches. They slip off and cause busted knuckles.

I'm tired of HDR too. Maybe in a few more years when it doesn't seem cliche I'll be able to view HDR images without sighing.
posted by chairface at 7:39 PM on July 24, 2009


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