For the uninitiated: HDR stands for high dynamic range. It refers to a technique of photography where 3, 5 or 7 images are shot successively at different exposures and merged together. The result is an image that captures a lot more color and detail than a normal picture. (Here’s a link to that section of my website.)
HDR photography requires a tripod, although it is possible to shoot handheld if you’re careful in well lit conditions. It’s a technique that’s ideal for shooting high-contrast situations (with lots of dynamic range).
My sister is one of a dwindling number of people who insist that HDR amounts to cheating. Needless to say I disagree, but I do understand the argument.
The problem with some HDR photos is that they look fake. During the toning process, the photographer adjusts a number of variables like saturation and contrast. “Fake” HDRs are often too saturated, or a combination of other settings make for something unusual. Sometimes, that might be the desired effect – fake or not.
The images below show the variety of outcomes possible with high dynamic range photography. I shot all of them with Canon dSLRs. Like many new cameras nowadays, my 5D has a built in HDR mode. I’ve never tried it out, but I will at some point. In the near future, I wouldn’t even be surprised if some optimized version of HDR becomes the new standard for digital photography.