You know, there are a lot of ways to ruin a harmless HDR image. I've don it myself more than I would like to admit. (Thankfully, you can pick up the original images any time and start over.) You might ruin images from a little over-eager-beaver ness (closely related to overkillitis) to make it look HDR, or by being too timid.
This chapter, then, is a study in contradictions. For example, I tell you to crank up the contrast but then not to overdo the drama. And I warn you about losing your imagination but then say you're going too far with HDR.
This chapter focuses on software ruination — not bracketing or other photography mistakes. Most people are likely to get into trouble while they tone map and edit HDR images — proactively ruining an image — rather than failing to capture it properly. With that encouraging thought in mind, after seeing and learning about these pitfalls, you'll be armed to the teeth to prevent them.
The number one way to ruin a good HDR image is the dreaded halo. Your photos might be perfect, but they don't need halos to prove it. Figure 15-1 illustrates a nice view off an old walking bridge on the river below with a nice sky and clouds above. What do you see in the ruined image (left)? Halos. Halos around the structure of the bridge and the tree line.
What typically happens is that you're ...