Squeezing the brightness range of a scene into the limited capability of photography, especially with color slides and now with digital, has always been a problem. The solution has been to make a choice - expose for the shadows and lose detail in the highlights, or expose to hold that detail, but turn the darker areas into black holes. Now the high dynamic range (HDR) technique provides a solution, at least for static subjects.
Here is an early attempt of mine that got me excited about the method. Four exposures were made on a tripod. The aperture was kept constant and the focus set to manual, so that nothing changed except for the amount of exposure which was varied by about one stop between images using the shutter speed.
The four images were then fed into Photomatix, a popular HDR computer program. The result captures the detail in the bright sky, as well as the delicate shadows of the stones and grass in the forground. The photo was taken in the Olmstead area of the Auburn State Recreation Area. These rolling oak woodlands are a favorite haunt, especially in the "golden hours" just after sunrise or before sunset