Grunge: the "Dave Hill Effect"

I have on occasion played with HDR imagery, using Photomatix Pro software and getting some interesting results.  I know that the grunge look is over used and some people really dislike it.  HDR photography does not have to be the gritty. grungy look though.  Some photographers use it as a way to get detail in the images and make them as realistic as possible.  Me?  I like to play around with it.  If I am already stepping out of the limits of being a journalist and altering the way the image looks, why not push it a bit?

For instance, when the students at the school pulled off their senior prank last week I shot it with a DSLR and three shot bracketed exposure.  Used Photomatix and applied the grunge effect twice.  I got this:

But what happens if you don't have a way to shot the bracketed images? What if you do not have a tripod or a DSLR with motor drive and auto exposure bracketing to keep the camera still?  Or your subject is moving?  There is a Faux HDR process which has been termed "The Dave Hill Effect."  (Check out Dave Hill's web site for examples of what his photography is like).  Although many people are calling the effect with his name, I don't think that the results are nearly as impressive as his work.  

Still, I dug up a few old frames and processed them through the steps found here and I like the results.  The great thing about digital photography is you can play as much as you like and as long as you keep the original file saved someplace else you won't ruin anything.

Adobe: digging deeper...

Okay.  Maybe Adobe is the the devil.  I still do not like the Creative Cloud idea for subscribing to software, but after a lot of digging I found two things to ease the pain (though I still really dislike the terms of service).

First, you can subscribe to a single app (like Photoshop CS6) for $9.99 a month - if you are already have version CS3 or higher.

The other is that it is still possible to buy the traditional versions of Photoshop - it just takes some digging.  They do not offer a lower priced upgrade that I could find, so you either have to pay the full $699 for the program, or if you are an educator/student you can buy it for $349.  However, the agent I chatted with online did not provide me with the right link to order that product.

Why does it even matter?  After all, I have CS3 and CS4... why the upgrade? The primary reason is because my camera is newer than either version, and I prefer to shoot RAW files.  They will not open in Photoshop CS4 unless I first go through the hassle of converting them into DNG files.  The second reason is that as a teacher I need to know what is out there and know how to use it.  I have been planning on getting Adobe Certified, and that means knowing the latest version.

So the final verdict?  There isn't one for me yet.  I disagree with the ToS and do not really like the idea of paying $240 a year to use the software.  It would be nice to be able to streamline my workflow and not have to convert my RAW files, and the content aware brushes in CS6 are supposed to be amazing.