High Dynamic Range imagery (HDR) allows the photographer to create exciting images that are not always possible with a single exposure. For example, if I exposed for the highlight areas, detail was lost in the shadows. Exposing for the shadows leaves the composition with a white sky as shown below. A graduated neutral density filter wouldn't help because of the angle of the building. HDR is an elegant solution for a tricky exposure.
One of the good things about HDR is you just basically need your camera, tripod, and processing software. There are several options for the HDR photographer as far as software goes, such as Photomatix, the new Nik HDR Efex Pro (which was used to make this image), Photoshop's HDR Pro, and several others. HDR enhances color, detail and exposure, creating a very dynamic image. Below are the exposures that went in to making the single image above.
The creative part of HDR is deciding how you want to artistically present the image, photorealist or more on the illustrative side. You get to be the artist! I went with an edgy, more defined look which suits the colorfully painted architecture.
Editor Notes: Deb Sandidge teaches for BetterPhoto.com, which offers the biggest and oldest of the photography online schools. Check out Deb's courses: Photoshop - Enhancing Digital Images and Creating Works of Art and Digital Infrared Photography.