One of the main limitations of all cameras has been that they cannot capture the same number of brightness levels in a scene that the human eye can. This has led to the situation where the photographer has to make up his or her mind which parts of the scene they want to capture. The usual choice was to capture highlights correctly and let the shadows go totally black.
Now, in digital photography, we have a technique called HDR (High Dynamic Range) which lets you capture more brightness levels than ever before, by blending a number of different exposures together. One of the early masters of this technique is Trey Ratcliffe who established the site Stuck in Customs, where he combines his love of travel photography with HDR.
The site is full of tips and techniques and there is a very thorough free tutorial on HDR which you can view. He has also just published a book, A World In HDR, on more advanced techniques and I’m certainly going to put it on my Christmas wish list.
Many HDR pictures end up looking pretty gaudy and false-looking and those are not to my taste at all. Trey’s pictures are a different in that, although some have a hyper-real look to them, I never get the feeling that he has overdone them. Inspirational stuff indeed!