I'm interested to know whether other people on this forum think that the 'traditional' HDR photography method is now clumsy and outdated? When I came across it I thought it was a fantastic idea - still do think that about the theoretical idea - but I have become quickly tired of that the over-processed look the pictures get which I think is unrealistic so it has become for me just a toy now.
I am moved to post this after seeing my photographic club members competition photos the other night. Some of them were to my eye very much over-processed and gimmicky.
It may be my fault (I may be using it wrong or something) but even using a highly acclaimed software package to like Niksofts HDR Efex Pro on my pictures results in a 'change' to the colours that I find spoils the image (exacerbated to a lesser extent the noise and halos that happen too). I would have expected the default image that is generated when the plug-in first opens to be pretty much an exact replica of the original image (plus some cumulative noise) but with detail in the highlights and lowlights. One could then add different effects by choosing a different preset or adjusting the various parameters manually. Reality is that they all seem to have this plastic look to the light and adding effects seem to make that worse.
The thing is that with the dynamic range of the newer sensors, I am finding that a lot of pictures give the effect I want with a single careful (RAW) exposure and use of the excellent shadows control brush in Lightroom 4 which results in no change to the look of the light and texture.
I recently went on a trip to Europe where I bracketed a lot of shots and put them through Photomatix Pro when I got back. The result was 100Mb TIF files and unrealistic photos. In sheer desperation I made a virtual copy of each middle exposure and just spent a few minutes on it in LR4 - this resulted in files a fifth of the size that looked pretty good (to me).
So, two questions:
1/ Have the traditional bracketed exposure HDR shots now become of very limited appeal due to the unrealistic effects giving results that are not matching the hype around the software?
2/ Are they now unnecessary due to superior sensor performance and inbuilt dynamic lighting software?