For the artist creating an arresting image from point of capture to end result, be that printed matter or simply a digital interpretation, he/she may find the road is long with many a winding turn.
Processing from RAW files [not the already camera driven compressed jpeg] is a key stage in the creative journey much as it was in the days of the darkroom albeit sans chemicals and precluding the use of a special [light tight] room.
Software abounds in this digital arena and where an automatic fix [light,colour, tones etc] may suit some, the artist with most to convey will want total control of every facet.
As with most creative mediums learning a new skill may take patience and/or practise whereas mastering it takes a lifetime – there is always much to learn, to improve upon, and notwithstanding the interaction, influence and experience of life itself and the way tastes evolve, there are invariably a variety of approaches to attain something that lives long in the memory.
Personally, from forays into hand colouring, to working with professional models, to the close up [macro] world, to landscapes and interiors the lessons learnt during my formative years of [monochrome] photography are as applicable today as they were in 1975, namely: composition, lighting and lens selection.
Thereafter during processing the skills learnt hand spotting a print and indeed more recently the art of painting watercolours have all given a useful insight into the blending and/or perception of colour(s) – to each, their own reality.
We feel ourselves shut in
With all the wild-beast roar of struggling life
The terrors and compunctions of our souls,
As Saints with lions
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING 1856
Creativity is exciting, it is stimulating, it never stops, it is rarely the same thing twice no matter how it is interpreted; you can float with the current or swim against the tide; you can surf the rollers or like a salmon leap upstream – for the photographer the path much travelled and by default the message, is an art in itself.