Photographers have always tried to take advantage of the huge dynamic range that we see around us. The process to bring out that dynamic range in a photograph have been going on since the camera was invented.
One of the pioneers in this high dynamic range field is Ansel Adams.
William Turnage describes Adams this way: "He manipulated the work tremendously in the darkroom. He always said that the negative is the equivalent of the composer's score and the print is the equivalent of the conductor's performance, and the same piece of Mozart is conducted differently, performed differently, by different orchestras, different conductors, and Ansel performed his own negatives differently."