Here’s a good example of when HDR photography is useful: NASA created this image of the Space Shuttle Endeavour lifting off for the final time by combining six separate photographs.
Each image was taken at a different exposure setting, then composited to balance the brightness of the rocket engine output with the regular daylight levels at which the orbiter can be seen. The processing software digitally removes pure black or pure white pixels from one image and replaces them with the most detailed pixel option from the five other images. This technique can help visualize debris falling during a launch or support research involving intense light sources like rocket engines, plasma experiments and hypersonic vehicle engines. [#]
Here are the six photographs that went into making the image:
Here’s a comparison of the image next to a non-HDR photo. Notice how there’s absolutely no information in the flames coming out of the engine.
The imaging experts also made a slow-motion video of the launch in HDR. Check it out over on the NASA website.