I'm sorry but I think you completely missed the point in the portion of the article that I quoted above.
(And yes, I did read the whole article - including the parts you
The point is, if you only look at the first pic of the Sunset above, you can't make out any details at all in the dark part of the image (the foreground). Even if you were to only focus on that part of the image, staring intensely at it for several minutes to let your eyes adjust (or even covered the sun with your hand), you still wouldn't be able to make out any more details in that part of the image - because those details are simply not there to begin with.
That brings us to your argument, in which you basically said that the same would also be the case in real life. You said: "...if you were to look at a person standing in font of a bright light that is actually hitting your eyes, you're not seeing facial details' I don't care how good your eye sight... the human eye cannot focus on a foreground portion when it is drenched by a very high brightness in the background..."
The problem with your analogy is:
It fails to account for the fact that in real life, your eyes can (and do
) focus on different parts of the scene and automatically adjust for the different light levels of those different areas. As I quoted above: "our pupil opens and closes for different brightness regions".
Therefore, in the example of the Sunset, looking at that same scene in real life (as opposed to on a TV screen), you would
be able to make out tons of detail in the dark part of the scene by simply focusing your eyes on the darker part of the "image" and letting them adjust. You can't really do that with an image on a TV screen. (Incidentally, the brightness of the Sun, even at sunset, if several order of magnitude brighter than can be displayed on a TV screen - which is also something that the increased brightness range of HDR displays can bring us closer to.)
Another good example would be if I'm sitting in my living room with all the window blinds open on a bright sunny day (and all the lights off in the living room), not only am I able to see everything in my living room in full detail, but glancing out the window, I can also clearly see everything outside in full detail (even given the significant difference in brightness between the two).
For an image displayed on a TV screen, an SDR camera would be forced to focus either on the dark interior of the living room, in which case everything outside would appear "white" with no detail, or focus on the scene outside the window, in which case everything in the room would be very dark and most of the detail would be lost. Therefore, the image on the screen would not
accurately reflect what I actually see in real life.
As the part of the article I quote above states: "A printed photograph doesn't know which regions the eye will focus on, so every portion of a scene would need to contain maximal detail — just in case that's where we'll focus..."
It also fails to account for the amazing ability of the human brain to take-in all the details in both the bright parts and the dark parts of the image, and "create" a single mental picture that takes into account all those details. In other words, the resulting image that our brains would come up with (the image we would actually end up "seeing") would actually be closer to the third Sunset image below.
HDR is not "perfect", however, it can and does bring an image closer to what we actually "see" in real life. As the part of the article I quoted states: "Overall, most of the advantages of our visual system stem from the fact that our mind is able to intelligently interpret the information from our eyes, whereas with a camera, all we have is the raw image."
The bottom line is, although HDR does have its limitations, it can and does bring the image closer to what we see in real life. You claim that it makes the image look more "fake", however, the fact is: it allows us to see all those extra details in both the bright and dark parts of the image (that are actually visible in real life) that would otherwise be completely lost.