Wander around Eastern Market in Capitol Hill and you’ll find plenty of beautiful photographs of DC, ready to buy and hang on your wall. Increasingly, you’ll also see breathtaking shots of the city in HDR: high dynamic range.

Notice the difference between this and the non-HDR photo in the blog heading. (Click for Source)

Through the use of post processing software, several photographs taken at varying shutter speeds are combined into one image. This composite image is supposed to more accurately represent what the human eye sees – with detail in both areas of shadow and light and rich color saturation. HDR isn’t very new as far as photography tech, but I’ve already admitted I’m slightly behind the curve/old fashioned (picking on Instagram, marveling at camera phones).

World War II Memorial in HDR (Click for Source)

I’m interested in how HDR photography is perceived in the photography community. The public seems to eat up these images, which are without doubt, striking and intriguing (and pinned like mad on Pinterest). But is it photography in the traditional sense or more of a hybrid art form? Photographers presenting their work online will often preface an image title with “HDR” and the Washington Post also clearly identified such photos in a recent publication (yet still stirred up debate.)

The controversial Washington Post photo, published January 2012

I’ve yet to see an HDR photograph show up in National Geographic, which has a strict policy of straight photography; image content cannot be altered. But if HDR photography really is closer to what the human eye sees, then should it even be a problem? Predictably, John Omvik, the VP of an HDR software company, says it’s totally appropriate. “If one really wants to split hairs about what is ‘real’and what isn’t, consider this: from the moment you open your eyes in the morning until the moment you close them at night, everything you see in the world around you is in HDR,” says Omnik. He goes on to argue that HDR is more true to reality than the black and white film traditionally used in photojournalism.

Even the Metro is pretty in HDR! (Click for Source)


Personally, I still feel HDR is more appropriate for fine art photography than photojournalism.  I may be a bit skeptical because  many HDR photographs I”ve seen don’t really look like anything I’ve seen in real life. Would love to hear your take…. in the meantime we’ll let an HDR Jefferson ponder upon it…

(click image for source)

A New Kind of Camera Phone

It seems like only yesterday I was scoffing at getting a phone with a camera in it. What do I need that crappy thing for, I’d say, rolling my snooty photo-major eyes… I have a REAL camera. Of course, picture-taking capabilities in phones have much improved since then. But it appears that now we can buy a device that is a camera first, phone second.

Samsung, traditionally a leader in phone camera technology, recently filed a trademark for the “Samsung Galaxy Camera”, a digital point and shoot with Android technology built in. Polaroid already has one:

Not what normally springs to mind when I hear “Polaroid” but I think it’s admirable they’re attempting to stay in the mix!  And this trend appears to be a decent one to follow; a recent report by the Consumer Electronics Association found that the number of people using phones as their primary camera source has tripled over the past two years. (Still only 18%, but I’m sure it will continue to grow.) I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point, we have “smart” digital SLRs. Professional photographers, especially photojournalists in the field, benefit from being able to transmit and share their photos as quickly as possible.

I’m sure that isn’t stopping camera manufacturers from panicking, as the digital camera market shrinks. As with many industries, they’ll just have to adapt to this new media driven, integrated marketplace! (Too late for Kodak, but I never really considered buying a camera from Kodak…film YES, but that’s even more extinct).

At any rate, I suppose it’s time I stopped scoffing at camera phones.

Oh, but it will


The Old is New Again (and vice versa…)

Behold this atmospheric and painterly photo of the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden Ice Rink. Taken by my good friend, photographer and fellow Shepherd University graduate, Martin Cherry, with none other than his iPhone.

Thank you for sharing, Marty!

The picture was taken using the Instagram app. I’ve seen stacks of these photographs popping up on Facebook, random photos of lunches and flowers and curtains and pets, all with a nostalgic, vintage feel and arty square format. While fun to look at, I’ve noticed a nagging feeling of annoyance when viewing Instagram images. Is it that I know that the app does the majority of the work, instantly transforming snapshots into retro style images through the use of various filters?That these old-timey photos are actually the work of a  quite high-tech gadget? That the app probably has the ability to make an otherwise uninteresting photo artistic and cool?

photo taken from the Instagram blog

I find it fascinating that with the current availability of relatively cheap digital SLRs (and even high quality point-and-shoots), we are so charmed by the ability to instantly create digital images that look as if they’ve been yellowing in a box since 1972. I suspect it’s just one form of the back to the earth pull for authenticity so many are feeling. Instagram images remind us of the deep color and tangibility of film.

Another photo from the Instagram blog

Anyway, who am I fooling. I’m sure to download this app as soon as I get an iPhone. Amplicate.com has a current poll up showing that out of over 36,000 users, 91% LOVE Instagram. One aspect contributing to popularity is the ease of sharing with other friends who have the app. And that is one of the great joys of photography, capturing and sharing our particular vision of the world around us.

Do you use Instagram? Even if you don’t,  please, let us know your thoughts on the app in the comments.