Photomatix is the program I use to create my HDR images. It does a great job crunching several exposures at different settings (over and under the recommended setting) into a tone-mapped image that includes details in both the shadow and highlight areas of a scene.
Often times, for a creative effect, I'll apply Topaz Adjust (a plug-in) to an HDR image. Many of the options in Topaz Adjust allows you to add detail, contrast and color to the shadow and highlight areas. How cool!
The image on the left is the middle exposure of five exposures. The image on the right is the Photomatix + Topaz image.
Photomatix tip: Adjust the White Point first - to preserve the highlights.
Topaz tip: Let your imagination run wild.
If some of your images need a boost in detail, contrast and color, give Photomatix and Topaz Adjust a try. Photomatix and Topaz can also give YOU a boost in your creative efforts.
You can order Topaz Adjust here.
You can get a discount on Photomatix here.
Explore the Light,
P.S. Notice how everything in this scene is in sharp focus. You can achieve this effect by using a wide-angle lens, setting a small f-stop, and focusing 1/3 into the scene. Also, notice how the scene has a great sense of depth. That;s due in part to the careful arrangement of the elements in in the scene.