Photoshop can be useful for attaining deeper and more complicated photos. Naturally, it's a great show of talent if one gets a shot where little to no after-processing is necessary at all. After-processing only makes a good shot look better, after all.
Of course, sometimes a photo is taken with distinct intentions of processing to gain a more vivid and occasionally surreal appearance. For instance, look at the shot below. I took my E8700, set it to "Auto", put it on a tripod, pointed it straight up, and pressed the shutter button. The resulting picture looked like this:
But that isn't at all interesting. This picture may look washed out, but it doesn't have to be. The texture of the clouds should in fact be the focus of the photo as the comparatively plain trees are super-imposed, but it's not apparent. In fact, it's there but barely visible. Thus, it's necessary to do a fair bit of color balancing and level adjustment to bring it out. Thus:
(click to see full-size)
Notice that the entire picture has gotten darker. It was necessary to bring out the darker colors and the neutrals while keeping the lighter colors at their present levels. This has distinguished the texture, which is here essentially created by differing shades of gray.
This involves playing with the color balance and contrast. The blue was brought up and the contrast was raised. Additionally, I raised the neutrals and the level of darker (black-derived) colors. The trees are only there to provide context; they are not the picture's subject. This is why the fact they are now darker and more super-imposed (and less detailed) isn't a big deal at all.
This picture turned out quite well. Now, it is my deviation called "Incoming".
Perhaps in the future, we'll have more on this little cloud fetish of mine. In the meantime, check out this, this, and this - all pictures of mine in which the clouds are not processed beyond simple contrast adjustment to correct for camera weakness. However, the epic clouds in this photo are color-enhanced about as much as "Incoming" (above).
Photoshop isn't everything, though. Here's an example of a really good picture in which nothing has been after-processed.
So, that's all for now. Have fun pursuing your own cloud stuff - the possibilities are practically endless.
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