I've been wanting to try Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro for some time, but haven't had the opportunity until now. Over the weekend I went to Fort Christmas Historical Park (see previous post) and they have several Florida Pioneer homes and structures. As you can imagine, they are pretty dark on the inside with no electricity and it was very bright outside. Sounds like HDR territory to me! I set the camera to Aperture-Priority mode and set my camera's (Canon 7D) Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) to -2/+2. Meaning, it will take one picture at normal exposure, one 2 stops under-exposed and one 2 stops over-exposed. I also set the camera to "High-Speed Continuous Shooting", so all three photos would be taken quickly.
The downside was there were so many people at the event I couldn't use a tripod. So all images were taken handheld, which caused some of the images to be blurry. Especially on some of the 2 stop over images, but I still managed to get few good series of images.
Since I use Lightroom to import and process my RAW files, I used HDR Efex Pro Lightroom Plugin, but it's also available through Photoshop, Bridge and Aperture. I found the program fairly simple to use and lots of presets from realistic to very unreal. Once I settled on a basic look with a preset, I made some minor adjustments with the Global Adjustments panel.
I know there's lot more adjustments that can be made both globally and with the Selective Adjustments panel using Control Points, but that's what I like with the program. It can be quick and simple if need be or as you gain experience with the program and HDR in general, you have a lot of control.
I only downloaded the 15 day trail version, but I think I'll have to add it my holiday wish list.