I put together a 'wish list' for Adobe on my blog and one of the things I wished for was the ability to selectively tonemap different areas of an image (without tonemapping multiple times and blending different tonemap versions after the fact) which would then really start to take us to the ability to relight a scene.
Just a couple of points here, Bob. Photoshop already gives us the facility to selectively tonemap different areas of the image. Just use the lasso tool to select an area, feather significantly, say 100 or even 200 pixels depending on the size of the slection, then make whatever adjustments in brightness, contrast color etc you think appropriate.
Part of the skill is in the choice of a suitable degree of feathering so the transition in tonality between the inside and outside of the selection does not appear unnatural.
For HDR to show its full potential we need, at least, monitors that can display the entire brightness range so we can get a feel for what our true starting point is and where we want to take it from there.
Wouldn't this present enormous problems for proofing? Uwe mentioned in his Part I article that the human eye has a dynamic range of about 10 stops, which seems similar to that of a modern DSLR. The eye is said to have a maximum DR of around 24 stops only when taking into consideration the full range of aperture changes that the eye's pupil is capable of.
Such extreme changes in aperture would be caused, for example, when shifting one's gaze from a bright part of a sky where the sun is partially visible as it peeks through the clouds, to the scene of a black cat sitting in the shade of dense undergrowth in the near foreground.
To capture such a scene with autobracketing, not even a Nikon would be sufficient with its 9 exposures of 1 EV interval, providing an additional 8 stops of DR.
Of course, with 9 exposures which might vary between 1/3000th and 1/10 of a second, movement in the scene can be an insurmountable problem.
However CS5 has offered an impressive solution in HDR-2, with its 'Remove Ghosts' feature. This feature must be very useful for Psychics and Spiritualist Mediums who wish they could stop seeing ghosts.
Here's a scene of the living room of a friend I'm visiting over the Christmas/New Year break, and crops of the processed HDR images, with and without ghost removal.
Now I ask you, are these images surrealistic? Untidy, maybe! But surrealistic?... no!
I'm very surprised and very impressed with the ghost removal result in this particular example. In order to reduce the possibility of movement as much as possible, I used ISO 1600 for these shots. Exposures varied from 1/3000th to 1/10th, and the shadows are still noisy. At the base ISO of the D700, the maximum exposure would have been a full second, improving SNR in the dark parts significantly but probably causing too much blur for the 'remove ghosts' feature to handle.