Do we? Or maybe we don’t? And we use it just because of some photography fad?
Many people claim that HDR technique is not needed. And by HDR I mean any technique of extending dynamic range – no matter it’s true HDR (with creating 32-bit image), Exposure Fusion or Manual Blending. Or even using graduated filters. All these techniques serve the same purpose – restoring details and colours in darkest and brightest part of the image and thus “correcting exposure” of a whole frame. These are just different “implementation” of the idea.
Such people say that HDR is not true photography, it’s fake, artificial, grungy… in general it would be better if there was no HDR photography.
But here is example that proves that HDR is sometimes really needed. Before photo is 0 EV exposure. Notice how bright the highlights in the sky are and how dark are the shadows. Details and colours in both these areas are almost completely gone. This exposure is rather unusable on its own. I tried using graduated filter here but the contrast between the sky and the rocks (which were very dark lava rocks) was so high that it didn’t help much. I ended up with some information still being lost. So I ended up taking 7 exposures and after tone-mapping them in Photomatix Pro I got the After image. Details and colours in highlights and shadows are no longer lost.
Without HDR I would miss some nice photo opportunity. So it’s not a fad. It sometimes can really help making your photos better but often it’s the only way to capture good photo at all.
BTW sorry for not providing EXIF info today but apparently I accidentally stripped them off from this photo… I only remember I took 7 exposures here and middle exposure was several seconds.