Monday, September 12, 2011

Interesting Statistics and The Great HDR Debate

Last week I posted this photo of Thompson Falls in Pinkham Notch, NH.   I described how it was a high dynamic range image or HDR created by using software to combining the tonal values of five separate exposures.   I also related that I was sort of luke warm on HDR.

Thompson Falls HDR

Over the weekend, I offered up a single image of the same location shot at the same time. This photo is not an HDR. One long exposure from the camera with gentle software tweaks to color and contrast.

Thompson Falls v2.jpg This

I posted both images to the same exact Flickr group, wrote a blog post on each image and shared those blog posts on Facebook and Google+.   I hadn't planned on doing an analysis, but I realized I have some data, so here we go...
  • Both images have received just about identical numbers of views so far on Flickr and on Facebook. 
  • The HDR image has generated more comments.
  • There have been enthusiastic comments about both images
  • The Thompson Falls HDR image was favorited on Flickr and the non-HDR image was not
  • The non-HDR image has more Facebook likes than the HDR version (4 vs. 2)
What does this mean you ask?  I'm not exactly sure.  It might be a little too much Freakonomics for me to figure out.  HDR has become something of an evangelical crusade with people. Some folks love it and suddenly every image they make is hyper saturated and super high def. Other folks hate it. I mean they really hate it like the way Red Sox fans hate the Yankees.  As for me, I don't love it. Like a lot of things, there's a time and a place.  For example, I generally enjoy Cheyenne Rouse's work.  A lot of her images are of old things around the Southwest and HDR seems to suit her subject. HDR helps bring out drama, strength and intensity, so athletes and soldiers generally look great composed in HDR.  So when the time is right, you'll probably see HDR from me again.  Above all, it's clear that some folks like it and when it suits what I'm trying to express, I'll use high dynamic range as a tool.  But one thing is certain.  The controversy is overblown.  Especially in light of the even feedback on these two images.  There are much better... and cooler... topics to start a bar room fight over.  You know, stuff like Canon vs. Nikon. 
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