« on: February 18, 2013, 11:59:18 PM »
.. what's missing to get a photograph to have all the dynamic ranges I see with my eyes.
Is it impossible to translate it to a photograph?
Does it take a combination of photos to get a photo to resemble that?
Current print and display methods cannot replicate the wide dynamic range of many scenes, especially sunlit ones. So it is essentially correct to say that it IS impossible to translate 20 stops worth of DR into a photograph... UNLESS you compress the photographed image to fit within the range of the final presentation medium. That can look flat and dull if not done correctly. It can look artificial and "painterly" even when it is done correctly altho that's likely when it's a bit overdone. This can be a very subjective method and worth experimenting with to see if it fits your tastes.
However, such methods are about the only options when you can't stick around to wait for golden hour outdoors and you aren't carrying a bunch of lighting equipment with you. Otherwise, controlling the light is the main method photographers have used for over a century to lighten the dark areas and otherwise reduce the DR of an image BEFORE capturing it with a camera. Properly lit images can look far more appealing than trying to replicate this effect in post processing. However, controlled lighting is not always an option and the use of software and a good quality raw file are the next option to use.
Adobe's Lightroom is a great way to experiment with your raw files. It can lighten shadows and apply digital gradient filters very easily and spares you from becoming a Photoshop pro if you don't have the time or money to invest in it.
There's at least one section here devoted to HDR, tho not necessarily the photo-realistic kind. Look around and explore the subject a bit, there's quite a few ways to approach this. some may be more suitable or appealing to you than others.