As I've written before, the Sony A77 can do some interesting things in-camera. While my photog friends are bending their backs over their tripods while taking seven-picture sequences for their HDR picture, I just press the shutter and my camera does all the work for me. No extra software needed! There are certainly differences in quality, but for a quick shot where you know there are going to be strong contrasts, this setting (which can be changed to Lo, Med, or High) is handy.
The medium setting makes for a nice, sharp, vivid, realistic looking picture.
The next two pictures - also taken with the HDR setting - give you an example of how you can provide more information in your pictures while still capturing the main scene.
With my camera still "stuck" in HDR mode, a peacock showed its glorious tail feathers, so my first snap was in that mode. Good thing he wasn't moving or there would have been some ghosting in the picture as the shutter clicked again and again. The shutter is very fast, but so is a scared peacock! The in-camera processing of an HDR picture takes about eleven seconds, so you really only have one shot at a bird (as you would, were you firing a rifle).
I was fiddling with the "picture effects" button and landed on "miniature scene", which blurs certain areas of the picture. As the peacock turned and headed up the hill, I got this shot of his behind. The miniature scene setting also adds a bit of vibrancy to the picture, which is nice here.
Here's another example of a scene where there were strong contrasts, so I zapped back into HDR mode.
There are two HDR programs on the A77. One is a picture effect that takes three shots and creates an "HDR painting" with enhanced details. That's what you see above. The other possibility is more along the lines of the real HDR process: three pictures are taken, whereby you can set the plus/minus exposure settings of the first and third shots (up to +/- 6 EV). Chosen wisely for the appropriate amount of contrast in the picture, this setting gives you a more natural looking HDR, as in the following. Using this setting, you need to be aware that the shutter speed will be slowed down on the third shot, so your subject should not move.
Again, as a point of reference, here is nearly the same shot with the HDR painting setting. The shutter does not drag for the third shot, so if your little girl is walking up the steps, she'll still be in focus: