9.5. ENHANCING YOUR PHOTOS
Sometimes your photos will look great straight out of the camera. Other times they will need serious work. But generally speaking, all photographs (especially if captured in RAW format) can use some processing to help them look their absolute best.
You should decide for yourself how little or how much "enhancement" you want to do to your photos. Some nature photographers (me included) prefer a minimal level of processing so each photo remains as faithful to the original creative vision at the time of capture. Other photographers favor a more heavy-handed approach that may allow for processing that could most accurately be referred to as "special effects."
Of course, in most cases how much is too much is entirely up to the photographer who made the picture. With photojournalism, truth in reporting is essential and photos should undergo as little manipulations as possible. However, with fine art, especially nature photography, there is much wider latitude of artistic license in the final image.
Unless you're making images to meet a client's requirement, I encourage you to make your pictures the way you want them to look and don't worry too much about other people's opinions about the style of your processing.
See 9-9 for before and after versions of an example image. I cropped the photo, applied tone adjustments to increase contrast and clarity, adjusted white balance, and slightly boosted the color saturation in the sky. I also applied sharpening and ...