You’ve probably seen the beautiful, bold photographs popping up on your social media feeds that have been created with High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology. If you’re like most photographers, HDR images are something you’ve been attempting to perfect for quite some time. As amazing as these photos are, the newest rage in the photography world—computational photography—has caused some controversy and begs the question: is it really worth it?
For photographers, computational photography is a good and bad thing. With HDR technology, it’s possible to achieve really dynamic, dramatic images with multiple exposures. But with computational photography, all of this image processing happens automatically, removing any creative input from the photographer. Computational photography can also push the boundaries of what is considered a “natural” photo.
The controversies over computational photography stem from its potential to alter the meaning of a picture. To be sure, HDR has its issues as well. It’s easy to over-process an image, resulting in an overly artificial-looking photograph. But with computational photography, the entire intention of a photograph can be completely changed with the push of a button.
Of course, technology has and always will continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible. But this latest camera controversy makes it clear that we should be careful when considering the use of computational photography—it could set us down a dicey path we weren’t expecting. It’s important to use this latest technology with thoughtful consideration for what it could potentially do to the art of photography.