As a graphic designer, I can usually tell when an image has been processed or altered. While some purist might disagree about using a processing software to enhance photos, personally, I think it would be very difficult to shoot a picture that is magazine quality without some kind of post-processing. Despite the fact that I try to compose a shot, as close to the final image that I want, and use correct settings — most of my photographs still require some post-processing regardless of how technically correct I might have been. With the digital camera, I noticed more often than not — what you see isn’t always what you get. And some subjects are more difficult than others to get the correct exposure.
For me… one of the most difficult subjects to get a good straight out of the camera shot is sunset. The biggest challenge is getting the right exposure of the bright sky but also the rest of the landscape. If you choose the correct exposure for the sky, you lose landscape details and if you chose the landscape; you end up with overexposed sky. Also, the intense colors of the sunset often get lost in translation.
I know there are special filters and lens available to help with this problem but being the
cheap cost-effective photographer, I try to get by with what basic tools I can afford. Seriously though, I think that by shooting with less; I become a better photographer because it forces me to think outside of the box. Of course having good darkroom software for processing is crucial. It can help you change a mediocre picture into something more appealing and dramatic.
In Lightroom3, I adjusted the tone curve: highlights, lights, darks, and shadows to bring out the details of the grass and waves. I change the white balance to bring out more of the reddish-purple hues of the original sunset.This also intensify the clouds to give it more of the bright glow from the sun.