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Hristo Dzhendov
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The New BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé
6 Photos - View album

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Evolution: BMW 6 Series 628CSi (E24) vs. 640d Gran Coupe (F06) on the blog

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Happy new year with the new BMW X5 (F15) on the blog

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MINI Countryman on the blog

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On Understanding That You Are The Constant Variable

I'm still not sure where to begin with this week. Instead of just mindlessly gushing about the +Google+ Photographer's Conference and all of the amazing people and experiences that go along with it, I'll save those stories for more refined posts in the coming weeks.

For now, I want to share a concept that I wholeheartedly believe in, and that is to understand that you are always the one constant variable in your shot. For me, this trip marked my very first time visting San Francisco, and, to a larger extent, California itself. I was really excited to see the cable cars, the Embarcadero and, more than anything else, the Golden Gate Bridge.

Now, it may be easy to psych yourself out from trying to get "a good shot" of something that has already been photographed two trillion and forty two times already, but as a photographer (you are a photographer, right?), you owe it to yourself to get the shots for yourself and here is my reasoning for why:

Until it has been shot by you, it hasn't been shot by you
You love the rhetoric, right? :)

But in all seriousness, ask yourself this one question:
What is the one most important variable brought to this exact scene?

Simply put, it's YOU!

When I stood here at this very spot, in the vicinity of +Nicole S. Young, +Ricardo Lagos, and +Justin Kern, the one core variable was my artistic sensibilities. Did it matter that the three of them were shooting the exact same subject? Not at all. None of them were going to shoot or process the exact same way that I would and vice versa. We each ended up walking away with our own variations of the same thing and I can now turn back to my Lightroom catalog and see that I have put my own stamp on this iconic landmark. And you know what? It feels freaking awesome!

In terms of processing
This image has some fairly straightforward stylization. It is a two exposure blend using Perfect Layers 2 by +onOne Software. Both exposures were taken with my Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 24-105mm lens with the Lee 3-stop 4x4 ND filter (to give the water and clouds a little bit of motion). The first exposure was for the foreground and the second was for the sky and bridge.

Just about all stylization was actually done in Lightroom 4.1RC2 for a chance. I didn't want to add much except for a Hollywood Glow from Perfect Effects 3.


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The End Of HDR?

I recall when HDR first came out I was a strong advocate of the process, it was new, it was different and it produced images that no one had seen before. I was fortunate to be around when it was not long on the scene and jumped right in.

Recently though I have started to see the flaws in the process or rather the people that use HDR extensively.

1/Many will use HDR in the hope of rescuing a poor image, a poor image is poor, no amount of post editing will alter that.

2/Many use HDR as the be all and end all to everything they do and all their images are doomed to look the same.

3/Many will use HDR on everything when its simply not needed, I have seen so many images you know that would be wonderful ruined by HDR.

HDR has its place but after many years of saturation of the market and photographers believing it should be used extensively I for one feel its time may well be coming to an end. There are many ways to achieve much cleaner looks through using on camera filter, editing in RAW.

There is also a development of the viewer's eye and the appreciation of what is good photography, I have seen many discuss to the pro's and con's of HDR and the appreciation of this technique seems to be on the decline.

For me its the course use of HDR that is really detracting from this, if used right it can add so much to an image in bringing out subtle details, in the wrong hands it can produce some awful casts, halos and take the image so far away from reality its no longer a photograph.

For myself, from someone that was such a strong advocate of the technique I have been turned off by it due to simple poor use, I use it less and less and when I do it is only part of a layer within the post editing technique.

Do I think HDR will continue? Probably. Do I think it will ever be taken seriously? In my opinion, no, not anymore, certainly for me its time I feel is limited.

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