Have you ever learned something then because you are lazy, you forget to keep doing it? I learned it the semi hard way, by making a correctable mistake that cost me only time.
Early on, cannot remember when, I read an article about HDR processing that encouraged converting and sharpening your RAW files before running them through Photomatix. I did that for awhile, but found the process tedious. On a recent evening I ran over to my local LDS Temple to get some shots with the rising full moon in the background. After returning home and being chronically busy I had Photomatix do the RAW conversion. I processed everything and was liking the colors etc... but when closely examining the photos I realized that they were not as sharp as is my usual work.
Curious as to whether I could do better with converting to TIFF using ACR and sharpening prior to running the files through Photomatix, I took the time to do the conversions, improving the White Balance and doing the Lens Corrections/Sharpening I usually do.
Below is a comparison of the results. The top photo was using the RAW converter in Photomatix and the bottom using ACR first. The bottom is quite a bit sharper and will print MUCH better in larger formats, also note that I was able to get the WB better. (Just trust me, I see this temple a lot) I also feel that I was able to pull more detail out of the brighter areas as well. Overall just a nicer image.
So here now are the photos processed the right way, and without the vignette I used on the first ones. They are just a bit better, especially on a calibrated monitor.
This was shot the same night just a little later, my main problem was that I had rubber ends on my tripod not my spikes and at 300mm I got just a bit of tripod movement when I had it sitting on the grass. Now I know though...
Three nights later I did some more work as part of a date with my wife. Dinner and Temple Photography is always better than Dinner and a Movie. I wanted to experiment with changing perspective and focal length. Of note, all of these were multiple bracketed exposures, converted in ACR with lens correction Profiles, WB correction & Sharpening. The HDR settings were kept essentially unchanged for all of them. My final post processing consisted of straightening (leveling) and perspective correction and cropping. One trick of perspective correction is to not over correct, I tend to leave it just short of perfectly corrected which seems more natural to me.
This at 17mm.
This at 15mm, portrait orientation.
This at 10mm and in Landscape orientation.
10mm as above but closer. I like this one the least as the perspective makes the sides away from the entry too large and makes the building look out of proportion.
Finally at 8mm with my Fisheye from essentially the same spot at the 10mm. (This was straightened but not perspective corrected.)