Quoting L✌J:" I'd love to see SOOC "
SOOC on top, edit on the bottom:
Since I shoot RAW, it's not really SOOC because I have to convert it to JPG and re-size for web so this is SOOL (straight out of Lightroom).
When I shoot, I usually shoot keeping in mind how I want the finished picture to be and will adjust my settings on the camera based on that and not only to get the perfect exposure. I also know my camera's dynamic range favors shadows over highlights and will always do better at pulling detail out of shadows than trying to recover blown highlights. ( I really recommend testing the dynamic range on your camera and finding out whether it has an easier time with highlights or shadows. This makes a difference whether you might decided to purposely under/over expose a picture when you are shooting in RAW).
Anyways, I did underexpose the picture just because I wanted to keep my SS high enough because Niklas was wiggling a bit and I didn't want to raise my ISO over 3200 and I also did not want the lights from the candle to be super over exposed which I would have had to do if I would have exposed properly for his face.
In Lightroom, I used my sliders to up the exposure a bit, decrease my highlights and whites, and increase the detail in my shadows and blacks. I also removed some of the noise. Then I brought the picture into CS5. I added an empty layer and put it on soft light and took a white brush and dabbed it over the pumpkin, the candle and parts of Niklas's face (this just adds a bit more light to the light that is already there). I also added haze just because I prefer these type of dark pictures not to really have black blacks. If you look at a histogram from this picture, you'll see it actually has no black blacks: