If you are into photography at all, you've surely heard of HDR images. For those of you who haven't heard of it, HDR stands for high dynamic range. Usually, you would take 5 or more images at different exposures and combine them in a software program. The idea is to bring out more detail in an image, especially in the shadow areas, while not clipping the highlights. There's a lot more to it, but I won't go into all that here.
I have been hesitant to delve into this area of photography because as far as art goes, I am a bit of a purist. I once took a watercolor painting class and did poorly because I like pure color and the opacity of the medium eluded me in practice, no matter how much I tried to keep a light hand. In photography, for the most part, I like images that look as real and natural as possible.
HDR can look very natural or very un-natural. HDR has the ability to enhance an image in a way that will enable it to look more like the scene looked to the human eye sees, but when overdone/over processed it just looks hokey to me. If you're going for hokey, or even artsy then I'm okay with that; but when it's supposed to be a photograph, it should be done with extreme caution so as not to overdo it and take the realism out of the image. I do believe there is a place for both.
So, this is one of my first images that I have edited this way. It was actually done in Lightroom 2, from a single RAW file. I learned the technique from a post at Digital Photography School's site. I'm pretty pleased with the way it came out. You can view it larger in my "Artistic" gallery, if you want to see it larger. Let me know what you think...does it look realistic enough? Is it too cartoony? Not cartoony enough for you?
Update: Here's another......and, one more...