This Christmas, I put some present money to good use and purchased a copy of Photomatix Pro, a rather nice application that takes a lot of the grunt work out of producing HDR (high dynamic range) images. Photoshop can already produce HDRs but the output from Photomatix looks a great deal better to me.
The basic idea behind HDR (in supersummary) is to merge multiple different exposures of a subject into one image which contains a far wider range of brightness values. You then use this image as the source and remap the wide range of brightness values back to the normal 24 bit per pixel range to produce pleasing result.
Here’s one of my first attempts using 3 exposures:
I love the slightly unnatural look the tone mapping produces and am sure to be playing with this a lot more in future.