Thanks a lot for your feedback. I agree 'something seems to be missing', but what???
Regarding procedure, my first step was to create three hillshades of the DEM with ArcMap:
(1) with the 'raw' 3 arcsecond data (good for small valleys)
(2) with the raw dem downgraded to a 4 minute grid (representing major alpine structures)
(3) with the raw dem downgraded to an intermediate resolution, broadly around 30 arcseconds (emphasizing intermediate size valleys)
Then, with Photoshop:
(1) I blured out the two coarser scale hillshades, after resampling them at 3 arcseconds, to make the large pixels invisible.
(2) I overlayed the DEM (coloured by a self-made gradient map) and the hillshade (opacity 65%)
(3) Through a layer mask 'Brightness/Contrast' combined with the two coarse scale hillshades, I darkened the shaded side of the intermediate and major alpine structures
(4) Through a layer mask 'Brightness/Contrast' combined with the raw DEM, I darkened the plains and brightened the peaks
All resolution/resampling were done with Menu: Image/Change Image size (Bicubic interpolation)
Had I not used those downgraded hillshades to emphasize larger structures, the image would have looked like that attached here.
Hope this helps find what's missing...
...I read quickly through Tom's very detailed topographic rendering article. Lots and lots of detail there.
In my mind, I think that more info is needed on your precise procedures that got you to where you are now...
Something seems missing in those 2 topography renders; it appears that the raw DEM is showing through too much (the hillshaded/modeled raster seems not to be very present: but I think there is no modeled hillshade derived from the raw DEM?). Are you using Photoshop lighting on the DEM? What SRTM product are you using (3 arcsecond?) ? How did you change the DEM resolution precisely (Photoshop interpolation? Another resampling software?).
I recall years ago trying to use Photoshop to light up a DEM, and I felt (then) that it was a very labor-intensive exercise when compared with other GIS (commercial and open-source) raster software. However, I have to admit that I know may way around Photoshop fairly well, but I'm no "expert" Photoshop wonk