A few, a very very few photos come out of the camera nearly perfect. I've had one where all I did was cropped it slightly. One, out of about 16K photos. Some need a little bit of tweaking, some need lots. Some photos it's easy to figure out how you want to treat them; it's obvious they should be grey scale, or exactly how the real world really looked, and some beg to be dressed up a little or a lot.
Once you get into dressing them up there are some choices. Often Lightroom gives you all the choices you need. For some, to get the creative visualization I have, I need to drop them into Photomatix Pro. There are a bunch of easy choices and you can refine from there. Often it's obvious which one looks best to my eye, and I'll carry on. For some I'll dither between a couple of choices. Sometimes I'll decide none of them look right and will cancel out.
Once, so far, I had trouble making up my mind. Really trouble. It looked just fine in Lightroom but thought for fun I'd see what Photomatix Pro could do. I had 24 colour versions, and 5 grey scale. I scrolled through each of them, several times. Holy doodle! Even the ones that I normally think are garish looked surprisingly good. There are about a half dozen of what I think of as my go-to settings, and I scrolled between these for quite a while. The image looked really good in all of them.
The various settings evoked various emotions, and presented subtly different views of what I remembered seeing, overlaid by what I wanted to see. In the end, about a half hour later, this is what I went with. I liked the dusty orangey gold mixing with a bit of mist to provide an ethereal scene. Some of the other choices darkened it too much. Even the grey scale looked good, much to my surprise.
For some of you, those combines might look familiar. They are. My red combine landscape was from the same place, with the camera looking more to the right for it. I might have to get this one printed, next trip to Resolve. If you should want a copy, soon would be the time to speak up, maybe I can get a deal if I order a several.
Don't even ask about this evening's run.