BTW, people (even in the digirealm) have started to catch on to the idea that wide-blur, low-intensity unsharp masking (and inverse masking) can recreate many of the tone mapping effects popular in "HDR" processing.

Unsharp masking is a rather old FILM technique that has been adapted to digi. You can still do it with film, though it's easiest with big negs because the alignment and registration is a real PITA.

(how it works, very roughly: if you make a blurred copy neg from a neg (use an enlarger or stat camera out of focus and 1::1 -- or make two copies, one sharp and one not), then sandwich them together, the areas where they are teh same - no detail - will be black. The areas where the blurred and focused images are different - the details - will let light through. Based on this you can start to use the mark (or its inverse) for burning and dodging.....)