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Pierre-Henry Muller

By: Alexandre Clappier








Pierre-Henry Muller

34 year old


Professional photographer


Lives in Chambourcy, France



Canon 7D DSLR (plus other

DSLRs based on subjects)

16 to 400mm lenses in 24x36


Canon flash

Manfrotto tripod, Gorillapod

Various floodlights

Oloneo PhotoEngine





All images  © P-H Muller



Urbex artist

Urbex: many photographers dream about it, very little actually experiments with it! Urbex stands for urban exploration, in other words the discovery of abandonments and places that are difficult to access.


Pierre-Henry Muller has made a specialty of it for over 10 years and regularly publishes photo essays that are absolutely fascinating in terms of subjects, quality and historical context.



Photographer and explorer...

When he was still a student and started to explore the catacombs of Paris was the starting point to his love for urban exploration and its subsets: rooftops, historic, private or industrial abandonments, and quarries and mines.


"I especially enjoy taking pictures of former industrial sites. I like the fact that these places are ephemeral and often doomed to a rapid decay, I enjoy discovering a place in the state it was last left by workers, with all their tools and machinery: it's a testament that shows how factories from the 20th century were working. And seeing how nature takes its course can be really beautiful sometime."


Pierre-Henry is also very attracted to the historical background of a place: "when I find out that the stones from a quarry have been used to build a particular building I can easily imagine how they were carried to the construction site, how they were selected to fit that building, etc. It makes my work even more interesting."



… and an explorer of photography techniques

 "I was soon faced with subjects whose exposure was tricky to handle. Typically, a picture taken in a stone quarry with an opening on a sunny exterior offers a very wide dynamic range between high and low lights. Proper exposure of such an image is technically impossible with a single view, especially since digital is less flexible than film in terms of exposure."


After various experiments, the revelation came from the discovery of HDR photography in 2004: "at last a method that was able to preserve the dynamic range while maintaining what the eyes perceived at the moment the photo was taken!"



A passion and a job

This technical know-how and this love for unusual places ended up in Pierre-Henry becoming a professional photographer. Following the sale of a few first photos, and with some help from word-of-mouth, he received a first order in 2005 that put his expertise in urban exploration and his mastery of intricate lighting to good use.


"My work as a professional photographer consists of commissioned works as well as art prints and the sale of exploitation rights."


While a specialist in digital photography, professional photographer, journalist, author, trainer and recognized expert in HDR and Urbex, Pierre-Henry Muller did not surrendered film photography. He currently experiments with the great artistic and creative possibilities offered by the 6x6 medium-format and feeds the results into a digital workflow with the use of image scanners.



Pierre-Henry and PhotoEngine

"From day one PhotoEngine's instant feedback is what impressed me the most! The fact that you can also achieve very realistic results very fast means that what we have here is a highly efficient piece of software."


Pierre-Henry Muller uses PhotoEngine based on exposure constraints, but some of his favorite themes require a very regular -or even mandatory- use of PhotoEngine's HDR features: "For example, a night shot from a rooftop in the city is very difficult to achieve without HDR as streets and buildings are brightly lit while the roofs are in shadows."


Pierre-Henry also uses PhotoEngine in cases where a traditional lighting setup and single shot does not give satisfactory results, particularly in underground photography. The solution is to take multiple shots, each one with its own lighting, then use the PhotoEngine's Relight feature to post-process and rework each light source independently.


PhotoEngine's Relight is an incredible tool that I will keep on exploring and using even more regularly in the future."



Styles and inspirations

"I use HDR as a technique to achieve natural and realistic renderings most of the time, not artistic ones. I'm of the school which holds that "HDR should be invisible"! In my opinion, only the subject should determine whether the use of a HDR ‘impressionistic’ style makes senses or not. Less than ten of my photos have this type of rendering. Everything else bears a natural, TTHDR* style, some of my pictures using extracted textures."


In terms of inspiration, Pierre- Henry Muller is more attracted to photos than to the individuals who took them: "When I like a photo I don't care whether it's from a stranger or a famous photographer, and I do not remember names easily, anyway. That's' why I don't have favorite photographers but instead carry a personal gallery of preferred pictures in my head from various artists."


Like any enthusiast, it does not prevent him from being fond of very different aspects of photography, both from an artistic and technical point of view. Pierre- Henry confesses that he has great interest in pioneers like Niepce and early photography techniques, some photo trends from the 1950s in the USA, as well as pinhole photography.


*: TTHDR stands for 'True-Tone HDR', a HDR photography style that does not alter original tones and represents the scene as observed by the human eye.



Tips and tricks

While editing a picture, Pierre-Henry has long become accustomed to "resetting" his eyes in order to avoid a sort of "persistence of vision", particularly in terms of colors and contrast. The idea is to look from time to time at a neutral image taken at random, or at the original picture. 


"When caught in a lengthy photo processing task, you are getting used to what you see on screen. It means that what you thought to be a realistic image finally ends up being an over-processed image full of all the usual HDR flaws.  



An anecdote on your explorations?

"One day in Bulgaria, I was having much difficulty in entering a former conference room of the Communist Party perched on a mountain and finally found myself facing two metal scrappers who had been locked up by their boss. Communicating despite the little English we knew respectively, I realized they did it to avoid being attacked by other scrappers."


"What troubled them most was to learn that I had come all the way from Paris to take pictures of this very place. Then they asked me if I could show them pictures of the Eiffel Tower, but I did not have any. Since that day I always carry such pictures with me on my phone!"