Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eagle Scout Project Revisited

Some of you may or may not know that I am a Eagle Scout. I enjoyed my time in the Scouting program. The days camping and hiking through the woods (or grass lands of Kansas), the week long canoe trip that some of my fellow scouts and I took up to the boundary waters in Minnesota, and the knowledge that I learned while in the Scouts I still us today. I feel that even though it was not the coolest thing for me to do during my middle school and high school days, I am glad that my parents insisted on me continuing my adventures in the scouting program.

Now being an Eagle Scout is a very highly honored achievement for any Boy Scout since it is the highest rank that one can achieve while in the organization before having to move on into the Adventure Scouting program. In fact, it is often something that people put on a resume due because it demonstrates to an employer that they can plan, organize and finish a large project as well as being a good leader. The project must for a non-profit group, and the scout must create a proposal on what they want to do, create a plan on how they will go about finishing the project, and getting any materials that are needed donated to the cause. So every scout who plans on getting the rank of Eagle Scout must come up with a project, and most end up being like building a shelf for a non-profit, or fixing up a trail or park for the city. Mine however, was slightly different, and at first was hard to convince the board as a valid project. Yes, there is a board of leaders that must approve all of the projects before one can begin.

I did not want to do a project that everyone else had done when it came time for me to start thinking about what I was going to do. At first, I had trouble finding a idea, but my father soon came to my rescue. He work had a recreation area outside of town that was own and operated by the employees of the company that he work at. They were in need of some help with the landscaping, to be exact. They needed a wind break for the property as well as clearing out some evergreen trees that had been growing wild in some areas that they were not really desired in. So I decide to make my project the transplanting of these wild evergreen trees and creating the needed wind break out of them. I won't bore you with the details of the project, but it turned out well. In fact, my mother just sent me some photos of the trees and how they look now some 9 years after I finished the project. The interesting thing to note is the fact that this is the only Eagle Scout project that still exists out of all of the ones done around this time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is HDR ever a correct exposure

The other day, I had a conversation with a person on twitter in response to a twitter message that was "HDR photography = I don't want to care about getting the best exposure for the scene". I had made the post because after having finished reading the book Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera I could not see a reason for most images that were done in HDR on flick to have been. The only reason I could come up with was because the photographer either was too lazy to determine, just didn't care, or didn't know how to achieve the desired exposure for the scene. This twitter user (we will call him Mr. X) responded to my original post with "or HDR = I want all areas of my scene to be properly exposed."

Now, I thought about this for a bit and wondered. Why would an artist want everything in the scene to be completely exposed? You lose so much contrast and pop of an image when you do this. There are no real dark area (negative space) and too much lit area (positive space) for a good photograph. To me, this tends to make the final image flat.

Mr. X continued to try and support the need for HDR by the standard "Well, sometimes you can not properly expose a scene in one shot." Now, what a minute. Your eye can not expose some scenes completely either, so why should a camera? The brain combines multiple exposure of a scene, yes. But really, the brain is no where near capable of doing what HDR is, so what is HDR attempting to do? Photography has always been the attempt to capture a moment as one remembers seeing it through their eyes. Is HDR achieving this results, or is technology attempting to create things that we didn't realize when we see the scene?

All in all, I guess the best way that I can describe how I feel about HDR is by putting it in the following way. To me, HDR is like taking a multiple choice bubble test in which you don't really know what the correct answer is, so instead of making a choice, you decide to fill in every bubble. Now, are you answering the question correctly or not. I mean you have filled in the answer that is correct, but you have also filled in the answers that are incorrect. The same is with HDR. Somewhere in the HDR you have correctly exposed the scene, but mixed with that correct exposure is several incorrect ones. What do you think is the correct answer: HDR or one exposure that best fits the scene?