To HDR or to Not HDR

I take a lot of photos using HDR processing, and I am proud of how many of them turned out. Today I took a photo of the covered bridge in Baker Park. I had taken three bracketed exposures for the purpose of processing it in Photomatix. I also tried just working on it in Lightroom. The first is the HDR processed photo.


This is fairly typical of the kind of photo that I make with HDR. The colors are rich and saturated, and there is some enhancement of detail, but I try not to over process in most cases. In Photomatix Pro there are three processors: detail enhancement, image fusion, and tonemapping. I prefer the second two. 

Here is the middle of the three bracketed exposures just processed in Lightroom. I adjusted the exposure and applied the clarity and vibrance sliders. I later cleaned out some of the overhanging branches in Photoshop. 

The differences are small. They are most obvious on the side of the bridge. I think the second one looks a little more natural. I am trying to enhance my photos not transform them.