I agree with you on the "overcooked" images that are out there, however even they do occasionally have some merit as an artistic representation, sometimes giving an otherworldly feel.
For the purpose of accurate representation, or in other words a "worship of the natural word", HDR can also have a place. It effectively does what you describe with the masks and two exposures, but with some intermediate steps as well. The point made about HDR that I like the most is the intent to represent a wider dynamic range of tones, more akin to what the eye can discern, using sensors (the camera) and media (the paper) that do not have the range.
In short it is a tool that can be used (competently or incompetently) to produce images. And it is only a tool.
Here's another HDR utility: http://www.mediachance.com/hdri/index.html I've used some of the other utilities from these guys and they tend to be quite good. Haven't gotten around to trying this one. It's only about $50 and there's a free trial so it's probably worth giving a shot if you want to experiment with HDR...
Originally Posted by Patrad Fischroy
The observer comments have a little blub on this trip with some pictures of the camp inside and out.
Originally Posted by Bill O
Nice pix. My favorite time of year in the Whites. I have spent many a night at the camp in September. I'm jealous!! I can remember some amazing sunsets and a few sunrises with undercast. Great spot. Need I say more?
Jim amazing pictures from the porch. Nothing beats a night at Crag Camp. In 2007 Seek The Peak my son and I spent the night at Crag camp. The night at Crag Camp is a memory we will hold between us for life. Those who haven't been to Crag Camp you have to check it out.