Is HDR becoming outdated and as photographers can we survive without it?
I recall when I first got into photography in 2006 HDR was one of the new editing tool to hit the market, I saw images created by others and wanted to know how it was done. I found one of the programs and started to use it. It was at the time amazing, the way you could play with details, light shadows and so was wonderful. I jumped in with full gusto, everything went through the HDR route, no matter the subject.
Then I noticed some of the issues we had, noise, halos, harshness and seeing these in both my own images and others I set about trying to refine the whole editing process, I used HDR was an editing tool along with others not a stand alone This gave me results that differed from others and I was asked on several occasions if the images I produced were HDR or not. At that stage when people were no longer sure I figured I must be getting something right.
Over time though other things start to change, other editing software such as Nix Color Efex and the rest of their plug in within CS, OnOne Photo Effects, PhotoTools Pro to name but a few more came along and were all game changers in their own right. They could do more than simple HDR conversions and if used right the subtle changes to an image made that image extraordinary.
Over time I changed as well, I got fed up of harsh course HDR images produced and so my reliance on this editing software has reduced to the point I now rarely use it.
Why? Because with time I learnt what my camera can and can't do, the importance of the right lenses, the right time of the day to get the right light, where to position the light in regards to the subject. I looked at my ability to post edit, my capabilities in making more subtle changes but more of them to bring the extra depth to an image I craved.
HDR became a lazy way out, for me and so many others, take an image but don't worry about it too much, we can shove it through any HDR post editing tool and make it stand out. Some worked, others though stood out for the wrong reasons.
If you are going to use HDR then find a way of incorporating it into your work flow, don't make the mistake of making it the be all and end all of everything you do, it simply does not work.