There are many ways to process and HDR, many different styles. Certainly not everyone likes the same look and there are clearly some Battle Lines drawn with different sides vehemently defending the “Look” that they prefer. Is there a right style? Of course not, it’s photography, it’s art, everyone works and see differently.
But I thought I would show a few of the different styles out there. And recognize that these are not clearly set in stone and even my interpretation of a certain style may not be what you think it is. And also there are laterally thousands of interpretations in between.
I’m presenting these mostly straight out of the HDR Processing software with out any post editing since that can alter things to another even further degree, I did make some adjustments just to keep the lightness levels similar except for those styles that simply are not light. I will also show a couple of the styles done with two different programs, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 and HDRsoft’s PhotomatixPro 4.2. Since even which software you use can vary the look.
Also be aware that these styles can look very different depending on subject matter
EDIT! I’ve posted a follow-up for this post including some presets for NIk HDR Efex Pro2 HERE
The first thing I want to show is a Standard Photograph, exposed for the building, as would be possible in a single image with it’s limited dynamic range
The next style is judging by the HDR Group at Google + a very popular style.
It is charaterised by a very mid-range tone, some graying to whites and possibly some haloing if one isn’t careful. It can also be high on detail but isn’t alaways
Probably tied for Most Popular with grunge is this style
It is characterized by a softer look, very saturated. Looking very much like somone may have painted it (hence the name)
The next style is generally preferred by older Photographers, or Non HDR Photographers …and NOTHING wrong with Older Photographers. I’m one. ( I’ve seen the demographics on this, so don’t be offended)
In one iteration it is very “Photographic ” looking, more like a standard photograph of a well exposed standard dynamic range scene. Another thinking on it is “As the eye Sees” look, which doesn’t quite use a standard photograph as it model for look but rather how we actually see things. It is natural looking but perhaps with a bit more detail. ( This is the method I prescribe too, how well is not for me to judge)
This Next style is preferred by those who do Interiors of buildings (Old and dilapidated in many cases), Auto and Motorcycles and also younger people that play video games for it’s CGI look. It’s extremely detailed and textural with deeper shadows
This last category I’ve made up the name myself and it’s used often for people that do Compositing of Backgrounds and People. I named it for the person that put the style on the map mostly, although he may not like my interpretation of it.
It’s highly detailed and textured, It’s dark and foreboding in nature and very much de-saturated
So what are you? Or are you something completely different?
Hope that Helps,