Taking nature pictures using HDR or High Dynamic Range is a great photography technique to use if done right. It helps overcome the limitations of the light collecting sensors in digital photography.
What is HDR or high dynamic range? It is technique used to capture a greater range or variation between the lightest and darkest areas of in your digital photograph.
Basically you intentionally overexpose several images to capture better details in the dark shadow areas and combine them with one or more intentionally underexposed photos which will capture details better in the bright highlight areas.
Then you combine them using a variety of simple or complex photo editing techniques.
Look at these three nature pictures on the right.
I combined the underexposed image on top with the overexposed image in the middle to get the photo on the bottom.
I used Adobe Photoshop using a simple masking technique to hide and reveal various parts of the two photographs.
The photographs are layers that are visually stacked on top of each other, exactly registered.
You cannot do this technique without a tripod.
Any movement of your subject including the movement of leaves caused by the wind will prevent you from using this photography technique.
The overexposed photo in the middle is close to the correct exposure.
Some of the highlights where the sun was striking the leaves were overexposed.
The path looked properly exposed. I revealed parts of the underexposed photo in the foliage area, so that the path became more prominent in the finished photograph.
This is just an introduction to HDR. I purchased Photomatrix Pro, which is software designed specifically to handle this technique. I will install it and review it shortly so check back for more digital photography tips. - Update: I still have not opened the box and it's been two years.
There are several other options that I have been playing around with for HDR photography, most notably right within modern versions of PhotoShop itself.
Many of the very newest digital cameras have HDR capabilities built into their design. You simple set your camera to HDR mode and it will do the blending of exposures automatically.
There are a lot of bizarre and unique nature and landscape photos using HDR techniques. Many of them are way overdone in my opinion. Sometimes when a new technology comes along it is at first over-employed.
Just because a technology exists does not automatically mean it is appropriate to use it. Don't get me wrong. Experimentation is a great thing to try. It is the root of expanding your artistic creativity.
I recommend you remember what your intended result is, the making of an interesting photograph. It should come from your vision of what you want to express, not necessarily the need to use the latest technique like nature pictures-HDR
It is a great time to be interested in photography!