Claudia, I agree that finding the right balance with HDR conversions can be dificult and requires an image by image assessment. It's helpful to know where others draw the line to inform my future decisions in that regard.
Rassie, I see what you mean by flat. I always start off with intentionally flat images before merging them in the HDR process but in this instance I forgot to do something about that at the other end. I appreciate the suggestion.