Out with the Old and In with the New


The Weary Traveller, photograph

“People are very open-minded about new things – as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.”

– Charles F. Kettering

There is a new wave of innovation going on in the photography world known as HDR – stands for High Dynamic Range. I won’t bore you with the technical details. The reason I bring it up is that the resulting photographs often have a “unusual” look to them. Sometimes they don’t look like traditional photographs. This has caused concern and even anger among many in the photography world. HDR images are decried as an abomination, an evil which undermines the world of photography.

I wonder at this – why do people hang on so desperately to how things have been done in the past when it comes to art. I would think that art by it’s very essence is all about new ways of seeing things. But history has shown that this “re-visioning” takes time and comes at a cost to those promoting it – consider the impressionist and cubist painters of the late 19th, early 20th century. The establishment didn’t welcome their innovations.

I am part of a photography “salon” (a group of serious photographers) which meets monthly – each month we decide on an assignment which we’ll all shoot and then share our results. This month the assignment is HDR. One of our members predicted that even though today these images can seem a little otherworldly, in 5-10 years most photography will look this way. We’ll retrain our visual systems to view this as normal. This has happened before in the history of painting and photography.

I think it’s an exciting process to be part of. Of course, one never knows which innovations will stick and which won’t. Only the timid wait to see who the winners are before trying them out for themselves.

Needless to say, the above image was shot using HDR. The lighting conditions were such that HDR was about the only way to get an image at all, much less one with the atmosphere seen here.