HDR photography is something that some love and others hate. I am among those who love what you can do with it. Actually you donâ€™t take the photo in HDR (High Dynamic Range) but take either one or up to five photos of the same subject, in software either standalone or as a plugin for Photoshop or other graphics programs and combine them into one image.
Wikipedia defines it this way:
In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wide dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight, and is often captured by way of a plurality of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter.
The two main sources of HDR imagery are computer renderings and merging of multiple low-dynamic-range (LDR)  or standard-dynamic-range (SDR) photographs. Tone-mapping techniques, which reduce overall contrast to facilitate display of HDR images on devices with lower dynamic range, can be applied to produce images with preserved or exaggerated local contrast for artistic effect.
I have just started experimenting with HDR using Topazâ€™s Adjust plugin for Photoshop. The examples I have included are some that I have done over the last few days.
You can buy a standalone (you donâ€™t need Photoshop or other graphics program to use it) program such as Photomatix or Adjust which is a plugin for Photoshop or use the latest version of Photoshop which comes with the ability to do HDR built in. I have an older version of Photoshop so have to either buy the standalone or a plugin. I have Topazâ€™s adjust so I use that within Photoshop to covert my photos to a version of HDR.
The best software to create HDR from three or more exposures is Photomatix. When you take a photo you have to bracket your exposures one or two stops higher and lower than the normal exposure so that you achieve an underexposed, normal exposure and overexposed shots of the same subject. The software when you open the three or five shots within it combines them automatically to achieve a HDR photo. You still have to fine tune it to achieve the best results.
It is not always possible to bracket your photos since it usually takes a higher priced camera than most point and shoot cameras are equipped to do. You will have to consult your manual for your camera to see if you can bracket your exposures. I usually shot one two stops below and two stops above normal exposure so that I get a wider range.
Topazâ€™s Adjust uses just one photo to simulate HDR. You have to experiment with it to find the best solution that comes closest to HDR. Iâ€™ve found some wild looking photos using it as I have played with it in Photoshop. Each individual photo will not always work well as a HDR or the three exposures not always work to make a great or even acceptable HDR print.
I have had fun playing with both Photomatix and Adjust creating HDR photos. You can download a copy of Photomatix that works fully but it leaves a watermark on the final result until you pay their $99 or $119 for the full versions. Adjust is fully functional for 30 days and leaves no watermark on the final version of your print so you can enjoy playing with it for free for 30 days. It works in Photoshop and other graphics programs; you just have to check out on their site which programs it will operate with no problems.
As I said some love HDR some hate it you will have to decide if it is for you. If you do create any HDR photos I would love to see what you have done. Oh, you can use any photo with Topazâ€™s Adjust from any camera it does not have to be from a camera that can bracket. Photomatix also can use just one photo but it is best if you use three or five to achieve best results.
Some of the photos I have included will have more than just the original and altered in HDR, I did several in Black and White.