Most of you are musicians and have concept of recording. With recording, one of the most commonly used tools is compression, used to address dynamic range.
And so it is in photography as well. The dynamic range that we can see with our eyes is typically far greater than a camera can capture in a single exposure, even with today's advances in sensor technology. There are numerous ways of addressing this dynamic range, and one of them is HDR (High Dynamic Range).
Most people associate this with a program like Photoshop. And some associate it with ugly, garish, hideous sort of photography, which is achieved when someone overdoes the effect. Sometime, this is done as a grungy sort of effect, while others employ it so tastefully that no one ever realizes that it was ever done.
But was HDR first done with Photomatix, Photoshop, or other sort of software? Do you have any idea when it was first done? It might surprise you. Here's a description of one of the first successful attempts at HDR, done by pioneering French photographer Gustave Le Gray:
"The Great Wave, the most dramatic of his seascapes, combines Le Gray’s technical mastery with expressive grandeur. He took the view on the Mediterranean coast near Montpellier. At the horizon, the clouds are cut off where they meet the sea. This indicates the join between two separate negatives. The combination of two negatives allowed Le Gray to achieve tonal balance between sea and sky on the final print. It gives a more truthful sense of how the eye, rather than the camera, perceives nature."http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/gustave-le-grey-exhibition/
If there's an earlier example of HDR, I don't know about it, so I'm gonna go with this being the first attempt. For now. Unless one of you can find an earlier example.
Oh, and Le Gray's "The Great Wave" HDR photo was done in.....1857. Yeah. Drink that in.