High Dynamic Range Photography (HDR) is a technique that takes [usually] three what-would-be-identical images, but with three different exposures. One is under-exposed, which brings out detail in the very lightest areas of the photo. One is normally exposed; optimal for the lighting conditions. The last image is over-exposed, which brings out detail in only the darkest areas.
HDR was developed in the first half of the 20th century but it didn't become mainstream until the digital age; where, now everyone and their Aunt Ruth has a digital camera, and software like Adobe Photoshop CS4 (CS2 or later make work?) and Photomatix can easily seam your images together.
I have dabbled around with HDR photography a little bit, and with either of the two above programs your results can be quite satisfying. Although most HDR content are of landscapes, the broad range of lighting captures and immense amount of detail, here are some photos I found of food (because I can't even take a decent picture of the back of a lens-cap).
Which of these are your favorites?