Photographer Harold Davis on HDR Photography

In my last post I promised my readers that my next post would be a review of asn outstanding new photography book. Here it is: Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography by Harold Davis.

Whether he is writing a book, giving a webinar, or (presumably, though I have no direct experience of this) teaching a workshop, certain things are consistently true about Harold Davis:

  1. He is a skilled, enthusiastic, even passionate teacher.
  2. He communicates very clearly.

In Harold Davis you have a mentor, a friend who loves what he does and is eager to share it with you so that you can enjoy doing it as well. And he does this in a clear, informal writing style that never degenerates into condescension or into annoying humor. Quite simply, he wants you to learn. He demystifies what it’s all about, assuring you that it’s quite easy. Most importantly, in opening up the world of HDR he points out, more than once, that HDR is not an end in itself but a technique to be used in service of your artistic expression. If your first reaction on seeing a photo is awareness of technique, then something is wrong. I find this encouraging, because there are photo websites that pointedly highlight soulless photos that do nothing but show off the photographer’s technical prowess. Davis is one prominent photographer who reacts against this (Rob Sheppard is another who comes to mind), and I’m glad to see this happening. If you’ve dismissed HDR as nothing more than a process of creating unnatural-looking eye-candy images, Davis shows convincingly that this is not true at all—and he has historical evidence to support him as he relates HDR to processing methods used by the great photographers before digital was ever thought of.

As an author, Davis is a publisher’s dream. In his Intro he tells you what he will be teaching (to novices as well as to those with some experience of HDR), dispels myths about HDR, explains how his book differs from others on the subject (and, by implication, why it’s better), and describes what HDR is—and then throughout the book he fulfills what he has promised. Creating HDR Photos is well organized and designed to encourage the reader to press on. The opening chapters offer a survey of the different methods for creating HDR photos—from capture through to postprocessing—along with summaries of how it’s done. The author’s own photos on these pages are accompanied by a description of the process he used, and they act as “teasers” to make you want to go further, to read, in later chapters, the details of how to use these techniques. And if one technique strikes you as so interesting that you want to skip and learn more about that one immediately, those intro chapters helpfully provide the page numbers on which to find that detailed guidance. The book finishes with a list of resources, a very helpful glossary of terms, and a well-organized index.

Davis claims that reading this book is the next best thing to attending one of his workshops. I can well believe that. If you want to learn about HDR from a knowledgeable, nonintimidating teacher, then buy Creating HDR Photos.

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