Here's an image I captured during my recent 3-day backpacking trip through Grand Gulch on the Cedar Mesa Plateau, Utah.
This is at a location known as "Perfect Kiva"...a 1,000+ year old Anasazi ruin. I arrived late morning and the sun was on a perfect angle to enter the kiva opening (I am in the kiva, underground).
Before you ask, yes the light beam is real -- this not PhotoShop trickery...this is a simple technique known as the Tyndall effect...remember as a kid in school when you clapped the chalkboard erasers together in front of the movie projector you could see the light...same idea except I tossed up sand from the floor of the Kiva.
No HDR...single frame. Goes to show just how much dynamic range the Canon 5D3 has! If you ride the edge of your histogram shadows you can indeed pull a dramatic amount of detail out of what appears to be pure black.