I am going to stick in my two pennies worth.
As a photographic dealer for over twenty five years now turned full time landscape photographer for the Austrian tourist board, I would say I have met just about every type of photographer and camera buff out there. (maybe not you personally so donīt take this the wrong way)
But, Everything from the " I hate everything Digital because itīs not real photography" to the " I know everything about cameras and what fits on what, and who made it" To the "I donīt have a clue about all the technology but just want to take photographs" to the "I do know about the technology and just want to take photographs" and so on....
What so many photographers fail to realize is that the camera is only a tool, a means to an end if you like. Along with the mortgage worth of bits you stick on it.
There are really next to no cameras that are not any good on the market these days.
Some are better than others, and some are better at certain jobs than others.
But 95% of a good shot is the photographer him/herself.
With that in mind, "HDR" is another tool in the bag, if you know how to use it, and know how to apply it, it can produce the most wonderful work that would otherwise not be possible. It is not for everything, and I except it is a fashion at the moment. Much of the work out there is over enthusiastic amateurs trying there hand at something new.
And why not? we where all there once!
As for the technique itself? Well I can only speak as a frustrated artist, that could never paint or draw. So when I discovered photography, I was able to put all of those pictures that I had in my head down on paper. But one of the down sides of Photography was always that it was a compromise. Between light and shadow.
A painter can look at a scene and say " My eye sees the shadowed areas perfectly, so that is how I will paint them" the same applies to the highlights. This is not only because the human eye has a massive dynamic range, but also we also have only about a 6-7° point of focus. This means we have to scan a scene with our eyes to take in the full picture and tonal range. In doing this we create something akin to a "HDR" photograph, Hence, so many people say they look like paintings.
To say "I hate HDR" is like saying " I hate music played on a piano" What you really mean is not that you hate music, and not that you hate the piano. just the combination of the both played by that musician.
I have enclosed an HDR to demonstrate my case, This shot would not have the depth on a normal single exposure.
Thanks for reading.