So on a trip away with my good friend Alan to the little village of Trois-Ponts not far from Spa in Belgium around this time last year, we got talking about our love of photography amongst other things and quite possibly unleashed Alans creative side. I felt a similar sense of being overwhelmed when I picked up a DSLR in early 2008, and my whole life seemed to be put on hold as I threw myself at my photography and became obsessed by learning more about everything. The weddings followed and were a massive learning curve in the early days, I still like to think i’m learning now and will always be learning how to improve, teach, become more creative, but back then I was just soaking up the knowledge. I saw a similar response when Alan saw an area of photography that he wanted to target and so began the journey into HDR photography. For those of you who don’t know, which is probably most of you, HDR simply stands for High Dynamic Range and is a process of taking multiple shots of a scene and combining them in software to get an image more like the human eye sees than a camera lens sees. The dynamic range of a camera is limited, meaning that it cannot capture both light and dark areas in a scene, only one or the other. This is basically how silhouettes occur, a bright sky means everything else is underexposed. A HDR image will combine all areas of the scene so that every part is properly exposed, pretty much how we would see it if there was no camera in front of us. The resulting image is quite amazing as it is so sharp and colourful.
I have to give Alan full respect for his realistic and structured approach to learning about this topic to the point he has become somewhat of an expert in the field and has, not only sales from large prints, but also a list of followers desperately picking at his brains trying to extract the necessary info to make their images look the same. Alan took the correct approach of trying to learn the skill rather than copy a pro, as it seems so easy to try and mimic someones work, but it the reality is that you will never get it looking the same, and a lot of the time you are relying on chance or and expensive camera to do some magic for you. People who pick up a camera and call themselves a pro are rarely doing so after 12 months when the realisation, that without the knowledge you will get nowhere, suddenly kicks in. The age of digital photography seems to have made it accessible to everyone, and the power of affordable SLR cameras makes everyone who buys one feel like a photographer. There is a lot to be said for buying the “how to” books and not only reading them, but re-reading them and applying the knowledge to the camera. In my early days I spent as much time in front of my computer researching photography as I did playing with the resulting photos i’d taken of anything that stayed still long enough to be photographed! Taking the time to learn the craft can take you a long way and leave you with a great sense of satisfaction when you can produce images that you genuinely feel proud of. Never forget that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step!
If photography is your thing then you may want to check out some of Alans work at http://www.hdrmoments.co.uk/ or visit his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hdrmoments.co.uk plus you can also join my UK Photographers group on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/315485505128243/ to interact with other photographers about pretty much any topic you might want to shoot!