I know from past experiences that cut stone and wood will produce some wonderful effects with HDR processing. I also know snow is a crap shoot with HDR. I like darker looks with the way I'm going to go after this - but I know the snow will not play well. It will be very noisy. I don't want pure white snow as it will look out of place. I'll think of something.
The basics of the shot are: 50mm ISO 200 Manual Mode
The base shot:
Exposure : 1/80 at f/11
Exposure : 1/10 at f/11
I processes these three photos through Photomatix. The effect I came up with looked like this.
I really like the door and the stone - but as expected the snow doesn't favor me at all. I'd like to keep some of the detail, but lighten it up significantly. I tried to lighten the snow just by targeting the snow areas, but wasn't crazy about how that turned out. My next trick was to make a print solely for the snow - and try to blend it in with the use of masking. This is the photo effect that I chose - only for the snow.
I masked out everything but the snow and used an opacity setting of 50%. That lightened up the snow - pretty much as I wanted.
And so here is the final product, with one other tweak. I removed a small blue sign that was attached to the gate.