This is a shot from Halloween in Union Square – 2004 – that I just had all sorts of problems with in terms of dynamic range, and noise. I just processed this by making three virtual files in Lightroom, one under, one normal and one over (from the same raw file) and then ran through image fusion and image mapping in PhotoMatix Pro (which I just bought for $99).
No adjustments after that in Lightroom, though I can see a few things that I would change. The point being that it’s quite plausible to work from one raw file with their tonemapping process and achieve better results than I was ever able to get through photoshop. It gives you control over things like specular highlights – smoothing them out, or sharpening them as needed, and similar options for detail in the darker areas. I am using the Lightroom plugin, which is included with the Pro version.
You select your files and use File/Plugin Extras and export to Photomatix. From there you have two basic ways to go, HDR or Image Fusion. You’ll have to read through their documentation which is very good to see the differences, but so far Image Fusion has worked well for me, especially with shots where there is movement. I have a bunch of shots that I wasn’t able to get acceptable results from that I’m going to try this method on.