This is exactly the kind of thing I'm interested in, history of tone reproduction... Maybe I'm the only one who wants to hear about flare... it's in there but that's not the main subject...
Usually I hesitate to watch movies in links, but I highly recommend this and think every APUG reader should see this.
The surprising conclusion comes at the end after you see several processed images side-by-side with originals. My gut was telling me yecch on all the processed images.
John McCann said you don't have to do it (HDR) because Mees did a study that showed people prefer higher contrast "tone scale" images.