One of the best things I learnt about HDR and tone-mapping in the recent years is that it's the beginning of the process of developing a photo, not the final step. As you might know (if not take a look at my tutorial about HDR) HDR which stays for High Dynamic Range means that a photo has much more information about luminosity than a Low Dynamic Range photo (like a single JPG, TIFF or even RAW file). Luminosity is a characteristic we relate to light, not colour. It does have nothing with colour temperature or saturation.
But you probably also know that it isn't possible to display a HDR photo on a typical monitor without a special conversion step known as tone-mapping. That said what you should primarily use tone-mapping for is making sure that details both in highlights and shadows are preserved. You don't need to care about colour temperature or saturation at this stage that much.
Also if you throw out any details in either highlights or shadows you are questioning sense of using HDR for that particular shot. Why? Because you could as well use a single exposure that lacks those details and you would end up with similar result. Might seem weird but after tone-mapping your photo isn't HDR anymore - it's a typical low dynamic range image.
Therefore, what I do most of the time recently is to use Default preset in Photomatix Pro 4. You might find it boring, colorless etc. Yes, it's quite boring compared to some other presets (especially Grunge or Creative) but it has strong advantage of restoring details perfectly. I do make a few minor changes to it:
- I lower White Point setting value to much closer to 0 (look at the histogram when doing this because what you should achieve is avoiding highlights clipping) to make sure highlights aren't getting clipped
- I also increase Detail Contrast (often all the way to 10.0) to enhance details as this setting increases local contrast.
- I also adjust Lighting Adjustments to get as realistic results as possible (mainly to get rid of any halo arifacts). I use different values depending on a photo so I'm not giving any good or bad values here.
After that I usually hit Process button and end up with a low-contrast image like the one below:
Although this image might seem completely different from the one from the beginning of this post it's the same image with 2 more adjustments. After processing in Photomatix I opened it in Photoshop and added some contrast and colours using Topaz Adjust 5 plug-in. I used Brilliant Warm preset with a few small tweaks. And voila! Alternatively to using Topaz you can use Adjustment Layers (especially Hue/Saturation and Vibrance).