This shot below was one I took during David Nightingale's (aka @chromasia) HDR Crash Course here in Austin last week. It was a one day course that primarily went over the use of Photomatix. I attended mainly to find out ways to reduce noise in my shots without losing detail. I think/I hope I was succesful here. I used no noise reduction in this shot whatsoever. Now the colors and stuff may not be quite right, but I'm working on that.
I also tried out one of David's sample tutorials - the "Tonal range and the Curves tool" one to be precise - on his website at www.chromasia.com. He really explains the powerful Curves tool quite well. From what I've heard, he taught Curves as well as other stuff in the subsequent Creating Dramatic Images portion of his workshop that I could not attend. I really wish I could have, but maybe next time.
In this particular shot I used two curves adjustment layers to help with the color and the detail. However, I did have a hard time getting the saturation of the color in the background a bit so I used a saturation adjustment layer for that. I'm sure if I gave the brackets to David, he could make something extraordinary out of this, but I'm pleased with what I have here. The thing I'm amazed about the most is again, no noise reduction was needed on this as far as I could see. So, it made the course worth it for me. I did sharpen it a little with Nik Sharpener, however.
Now, should I spend the cash for his other tutorials? Hmmmm....