I think that you should not do so much post process work to "photojournalism" shots.
Photo journalist are not allowed to do any image processing. They have to supply the image as it was taken. However I am not a photo journalist. I just went along for the ride.
Yeah the halos are annoying. I tried several things to get rid of them. But in the HDR program, the heat coming from the people and objects create the weird halo.
The images look kind yellow. There reason for this is that the sand is pulverised to a very fine dust by the tanks. it flows through the air constantly. creating a sort of yellow fog. On one hand it gives the photo a unusual look. On the other hand, trying to edit it out gives the photo a pale and flat look.