Photomatix is the program I use to create my HDR images. I use the stand-along version rather than the plug-in (which is okay) because it offers more features than the less-expensive plug-in. However, you can certainly have some HDR fun with the plug-in.
When working with Photomatix, I suggest setting the White Point as the first step. In doing so, you can preserve the highlights. If you don't, you defeat the entire purpose of HDR imaging. Set the black point second to preserve shadow detail.
Also, each time to open Photomatix, be sure to click the Default button. Otherwise, your last setting will be applied to your new image - which, unless you have a similar image, may not be the best idea.
This image is actually a combo image: Photomatix plus Topaz Adjust, which you will read about tomorrow here on the blog.
You can learn more about Photomatix and other plug-ins – and get discounts on some plug-ins – at the Plug-in Experience.
Explore the light,