This is the street where I live in Norris City. By combining three differently exposed images of the same exact scene, the HDR software, which in this case is Adobe Photoshop CS2, combines the three images and choosed the best exposure settings for each specific spot in the picture. It lightens up the darkest areas and tones down the sky, which almost always has blown highlights in the lightest of places, and melds them together in such a way that everything looks perfectly exposed. I don't know how it does, but it does.
I also found out that there is a similar process that results in finished images looking the same way, but you start with only one original image. It's called Tone Mapping. Say you have one good exposure of something and want to improve different areas of it. You can take that one photo in your photo-editing software and make 3 different exposures which bring out the darkest, medium and lightest areas to best effect. By then combining them back together using the HDR software, you still get an image with loads of detail in all areas. The picture below was one I was pretty happy with as far as the exposure settings went:
And here is that same picture - which I thought had lost some detail in the darkest and most washed out places - after being subjected to the Tone Mapping process using the HDR software:
Pretty neat, huh?
Here are some of my other pictures I have Tone Mapped and you just wouldn't believe the improvement over the original digital file!
All in all, I'd say if you haven't tried this process yet, you need to look into it. The difference it can make in what you thought was an old, lifeless image can be startling!