We’ve all seen them, some of you out there may even be guilty of destroying perfectly good photos with them, most of us try them once in a while, and then decide not to bother.
I’m talking about ridiculous skies. Radioactive, post-apocalyptic skies as beloved by the HDR (High Dynamic Range) gang. Flickr is full of this sort of stuff, and though I accept that on occasions it can be done well, it is mostly done badly, as an excuse for a rubbish photo. This desire to make the sky look unrealistically dramatic is not a digital invention, in the 1970s the tobacco grad. filter was everywhere, and a strangely brown sky was a common sight,
I’m not for a moment criticising all dramatic skies, I’ve seen a few myself in the real world, and it’s not unusual to see an incredibly deep red sky turn mountain tops blood-red. There’s nothing wrong with enhancing what’s already there, so it more closely matches what we feel we saw, or to communicate the impact it had for us at the time. There’s no reason, or excuse for making out the scene was set off by the backdrop of a stunning sky, if it wasn’t.
In my view, the way nature looks is amazing enough, there’s too much HDR around, leave it as is, nature is dramatic enough.
Here’s a mock HDR (bad by HDR standards even) and a real view of a scene in Assynt, North of Ullapool. The shape of the mountains in this area is stunning in itself, they need no help from us to look amazing.
and what it really looked like…
What do you think?