Athiril, your post is so much more accurate than mine. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of this. I'm not terribly experienced in HDR, I was just interpreting what I understand based on my user level experience.
Sorry APUGers if my post was misleading in any way.
One suggestion, Athiril: with all due respect, your writing will be much easier to understand if you reduce the length of your sentences. While your content is correct, it is difficult to get to the essence of your point when so many concepts are pulled together into one sentence. In other words, your writing has High Dynamic Range, and at least in my case, my brain has Low Dynamic Range. (My father was a journalist. He drilled into me at a very young age never to write sentences longer than 21 words. I don't always succeed...)
Separately, totally agree with David G. on careful exposure and contrast masking. It seems there are also a number of simple things that could be done (with black and white anyway) using dodging/burning. It seems that one could dodge/burn incorporating colored gels on VC paper to affect local contrast too. I've never tried this. Would it work?