In a previous HDR post I hinted at the added feature of tonemapping, so I thought I'd post an example of a photo for which tonemapping quite improved the image. I took this photo last June in Massachusetts:
This is right across the street from where I lived as a graduate student, so no wonder I like the photo. But as you can see, the sky is really dull. It's flat. So I tonemapped and this is what I got:
Maybe you find the second image artificial. But I think it really brings out the texture of the sky, which, mind you, was there, and my eyes could see it because they would refocus when I'd look at the sky, but lenses can't do that. I find tonemapping to make a huge difference also when shooting in shady settings:
Bottom line: I'm not dogmatic when it comes to these things. Of course, most of the work is always done behind the viewfinder. But there's an art in editing images too, and that's what I'm trying to learn as well.