Take a look at these two photos of the same waterfall. Notice that the water in the image on the left is overexposed. This is a common problem when shooting scenes like this. The brighter water tends to lose detail even though the rest of the scene is properly exposed. The image on the right is properly exposed in every area. Notice the clear details in the water. I used our iHDR manual blending technique to make sure the entire image was properly exposed.
How do you know when you need more detail, and when you don’t? Take a look at the scene you are photographing. Can you see details in front of you? When I was was photographing this waterfall on an overcast day I could see details in the flowing water. However, if I look directly at the sun, I can’t see any detail at all… so if I’m shooting into the sun, I don’t expect to be able to see details in my finished image. The photograph below shows what I’m talking about. You can see lots of detail in the trees and the mountains… but the area right around the sun is “blown out”. In this case, it looks natural.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that photography is art. Only the artist can decide how much detail is right for a given situation.