Ok, let's sum it up a little bit. In my point of view HDR was supposed to enhance the Dynamic Range (as the name suggests), which most of the people do very nicely. But, this doesn't mean to ingnore the colors, getting unnatural saturation-pulls, halos in the sky or tonemapping with harsh contrasts.
In black/white some of the pictures would be really good, but this is too much pop art for me. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to push you down... I just think critism is nothing bad, although in the facebook-decade everything can only by liked somehow. Doesn't help, but keeps up the sparkling atmosphere.
I really love the picture from MxM, that's the spirit of HDR.
Just my 50 cents.
I tend to lean towards the mostly realistic HDR images myself, BUT....I do find some of the hyper-real or more artsy ones to be very interesting and I like them. But, it has to be one well done, and the enhanced color, etc...has to really fit the image, a dance that many HDRs don't always quite get right to me...
But art is art...and it is always up to the individual to know what he likes....and enjoy it.
I totally understand both of the points from vscd and cayenne (especially so). I understand that it's supposed to enhance the dynamic range of the image, especially in the shadows/highlight areas. However, I also see the visual appeal of taking the idea and modifying it to something else. You see photographers take "standard" techniques such as flash, multiple exposure, long exposure, etc. and modify/expand upon them based on their personal tastes. I don't see anything wrong with deviating from the norm and playing around techniques. As said before-- different strokes for different folks. What works for A may not work for B and vice versa.
Onto the stuff I posted, I'm not saying at all that the shots are perfect. I just feel they were successful based on the end product I had in mind, especially since the photos were my first dedicated attempts at HDR photography. Successful being purely subjective, as evidenced by vscd's post. However, as I become more versed and comfortable with the technique, I may find myself leaning towards the more realistic representations, or I might still find myself pulling for the surreal look.
Below is an HDR panorama, taken on the same day as the Cathedral examples I previously posted. When using HDR Efex Pro, I used the default settings. The only additional processing was a bit of tonal contrasting and skyline work in Color Efex pro and desaturtion in Veveza. This shot is more realistic in tone and probably closer to the true "purpose" of HDR. Some may like it, others may not.