Try HDR When the Light is Harsh
Recently I took a trip to Thailand. I was hoping to come back with many photos, some of which I would use for stock. One of the challenges I encountered was harsh light. When on holiday you can't see everything on your list around sunrise or sunset. You can always count on being somewhere special when the sun is overhead and just plain harsh.
While I made it possible to be at some amazing places to catch the glorious light of the sunset, I was more often finding myself somewhere great with the sun right over my head.
Harsh light almost always means dark shadows mixed with blown highlights. Many people will just say go indoors or look for details during mid day, but I say let the shutter click where ever you want when ever you want. I was visiting these amazing temples between 12-2pm and I wasn't going to let the sun chase me inside or force me to look for detail shots.
1)When bracketing in harsh light, try lowering your exposure compensation by a stop. I find blown highlights more distracting than black shadows.
2) HDR will not make harsh light into the glorious light of a sunrise or sunset. But, it will help to tame the highlight and shadows so you can retain maximum detail.
3) Bracketing -2/+2 is usually fine. However, shooting directly into the sun, -3/+3 or -4/+4 is recommended. A back-lit statue or temple can look astounding and doesn't have to always appear as a silhouette.