HDR just looks tacky,IMHO, even carefully done.
I think jdramirez was referring to creating a higher dynamic range picture through bracket and blend rather than 'HDR'. I agree with you, HDR programs can make the picture look cartoon-like; pretty awful to my eye.
And my eye too. There are very few HDR images that I like.
I expect that many of the "well just use HDR and it'll be fine" comments are from folks that haven't tried to use it a whole lot because what HDR programs do typically isn't what we want HDR programs to do.
What I typically want a HDR program to do is something like this:
- image A is overexposed +2 with blown highlights and no shadows
- image B is correctly exposed
- build image C primarily from B but include data from A for all of B's shadows so that noise is removed and detail retained.