I mentioned in my "about me" page transforming captured images to expressions of what one "saw " or "felt".
There are principly two approaches to create a photographic image:
One way is to set-up your scene, most commenly used in studio works, or you capture a natural scene. Either way, it always requires you to work or post-process the digital files, comperative to working in the "dark room" except you use a computer and software instead of bins and chemicals. It depends upon your "vision" how much or little is needed to realize the desired outcome.
This is my basic workflow:
set in camera picture menu to standard or neutral image processing
shoot in RAW format
I use Apple Apertureto convert, organize and make basic adjustments to my Raw images
adjust overall exposure, keep an eye on the histogram
adjust white balance if necessary
reduce any unwanted highlight clippings
adjust shadow detail and black point until enough dark detail is revealed and underexposed areas are acceptable
adjust sharpness, contrast and saturation, again keep an eye in the histogram, highlights and blacks
straighten image if necessary
reduce unwanted noise
Now the image is ready for further treatment or can be used as is if desired. More than not, I choose to develop my images further trying to achieve a certain feel or mood, matching my vision and artistic expression.
Check out my image postings for further explanations.