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High Dynamic Range Imaging Photography (HDRI) in conflict with Aerial Perspective?

SummerSummer -
edited August 2016 in Photography & Printmaking
Folks.  Studying HDRI  at the moment (in camera and in post processing), and a conflict has just arisen in my mind and I'd like to know how you have resolved this issue.  If I go to a lot of trouble to get a lot of realistic detail in a shot using HDRI and the foreground, middle ground, and background details are visible and look good.  Can I use all of that in-camera and post processing of detail in a painting without feeling guilty? I've seen excellent painted illustrations where all detail is left in, with little regard for aerial perspective.  Is there a divided camp on this issue here on DMP?  What will you do to me if I leave it in?  (I miss you David C.)  Summer 


  • Summer

    I regard HDR as a technique in photography, best used with care and subtlety. HDR is not in itself incompatible with aerial perspective, indeed HDR can be employed to enhance the effect of aerial perspective to create the perception of depth in a landscape.


  • Thanks Denis.  Very good examples of what I'm trying to decide.  I think that I've decided to use both techniques when and if necessary and trust my judgement. I can even use aerial perspective and HDRI together in the same painting if it's called for, say aerial perspective in the background and HDRI in the foreground.  Using them with care and subtlety will be key because I see so many examples of these techniques being used in excess and I don't want to be on that bandwagon.  And thanks for providing the link.  Summer      
  • Whether painting a landscape from life or a photographic reference, the only thing I would consider in deciding whether to use an aerial perspective effect is if it would benefit the painting. (It usually does.)
  • SummerSummer -
    edited August 2016
    I guess that I was discovering how much HDRI CAN  change aerial perspective.  My tendency is to put too much detail in that is not necessary and ruin the aerial perspective.  If I use HDRI in the AP zone, I just need to "soften" the details.  Thanks Denis and Martin.   
  • Here's an example in a plein air painting I did awhile back. In order to suggest the depth of the greenery in the background and make some of it "go back" I used cooler more muted colors, i.e., atmospheric perspective. If I had painted it exactly the way I saw it, I think that it would have come out a lot flatter. 
  • Yes, exactly.  About five minutes ago, before I saw your post, I was mulling over the idea to use the detail from HDRI but soften it to create AP.  Your painting with the muted areas shows that exactly.  Thanks Martin.  I was worried that I'd have to use one or the other, HDRI or AP.  But now I will use both, and maintain the AP by muting the colors.   
  • David...I can understand the confusion. For me the more accurate terminology for creating the illusion of depth and distance in painting is atmospheric perspective. When taken literally you would think aerial perspective would refer to a point of view from an elevated position, but in painting the two terms are often used interchangeably.
  • Thank you everyone: @dencal, @Martin_J_Crane, @davidwwilson, @Kingston, and @jmac51.  I'll use the HDRI concept on my DSLR and in post feeling less apprehensive about it in the future.  Now I must search, find, and download the "auto-forgive" program that David mentions.  ;)
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