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I'm trying to render using HDRI, I'm using a setup I learned in a cgmastersnet course. You take the EXR, load it into the world with nodes, set the strength, choose transparency (so the background doesn't show) and render.

It seems with this setup, I'm not really getting any shadowing. I've played around with the settings, put AO on or off, not much seems to change. The render seems washed out and dirty. I've watched a few videos on it but only have come away more confused. Below are settings and the render. Any tips are appreciated.

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Have you tried experimenting with different HDRIs? It could just be that the lighting you're getting from that specific HDRI isn't what you're looking for. If you want crisp shadows then maybe try looking for an HDRI that has a strong, single light source.

This is more anecdotal, but I've personally never had to put an HDRI at anything above a 2 in strength. This seems to lend more evidence to the HDRI itself being washed out/being the problem child

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