As with most new software I find playing with it is the only way of coming to grips with it. My starting point is 5 raw images exposed at -2,-1, 0, +1 and +2 stops – mostly using a tripod, but I am also pleasantly impressed with Photomatix’s ability to align 5 handheld shots (can’t just be my steady hand!).
After that its play, play, play with the myriad of sliders and settings until I have an image with some resemblance of reality, yet enhanced. The processed image is then brought into Photoshop for final adjustments – size, curves and sharpening. The latter can be done in Photomatix, but I have not found any user controls for the sharpening process.
My next step using Photomatix - probably make images far removed from anything resembling reality!
(Click on either of the images for a larger version)