HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and in photography it usually refers to a scene that has a massive differences between the dark and bright tones. Unlike a human eye, most of the digital cameras, or any cameras, cannot capture extreme dynamic range scenes, though the technology is drastically improving (Alpha Sony 7s comes to mind). So if you cannot dish tens of thousands of dollars for a medium format camera, then HDR editing software is the way to go, or at least it was for me. I used to work with Photomatix and HDR efex PRO 2 from Google software, but to be honest I never was fully satisfied with the results. The process is mostly automated and relatively fast, even if you will make final adjustments in photoshop, but when I started to manually blend layers in photoshop, my photos are clean, artifact free, without any crazy micro contrast or fake looking pale washed out colors (mainly red). Below is a short video that I made today, I am revising some of my older photos and I re-edit them. You can see below the RAW file, then my old HDR edit, and at the very bottom a manually blended image. For full length tutorial on manual blending see my 50 minute long video here.
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Manually digitally blended image
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