The subtler side of HDR
Here's another technique I use. It's the only time I get into merging images, blending and masking.
Interiors are not easy to control contrast wise. It's impossible to use a grad so the easiest way is to make a series of images and put them in something like Photomatix. The problem with this method is that you end up with ghosting and it tends to take on a cartoonish look.
However, there is an alternative!
When I'm doing interiors or a cathedral or a church, I tend to make just two exposures. One is for the highlights and one for the stained glass.
Open up your two images in PS or Elements.
Copy the darker image and paste it directly on top of the lighter one.
Add a layer mask to the darker image.
Click on the lighter image layer. Copy it.
Hold down the ALT key and click on the layer mask.
Paste it on the mask. Your image should now be B&W.
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set it to 40.
Click of the layer and hey presto a nicely merged image.
Use the brush tool to paint onto the layer mask to reveal the brighter bits behind but avoid the windows. You'll start to reveal more detail from behind.
Why is the a good method? Before starting the brush, hold down the ALT key and click back on the layer mask. You'll see just how subtle the blend has been.
Here's one I did earlier...
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