Here's a little secret about taking great pictures. A nice expensive fancy camera with all the fancy gadgets will not take a good picture. Well, it may take a decent picture on "auto" if you don't know the manual settings, which is like a glorified point and shoot camera. However, it's the person using THAT camera that will take a good picture if they, know about composition, lighting, the proper camera settings to go with the scene you're shooting and of course knowing how to get that perfect moment! ...Or they take 50 and get lucky with one or two decent pictures. But even with all that, taking the picture is only half of it. The other half is in the editing. And the editing will make or break a picture no matter how good that picture is! It's like baking cookies. You don't want to under do it and you most certainly don't want to over do it.
People are often curious as to what goes in to my editing process and some people don't understand why they can't just have the images right away directly from the memory card. Well, there is no one answer as every image is different, but I do have a process. I shoot in RAW and edit with Bridge and Photoshop. I turn my RAW files into TIFFs. I edit my TIFFS in Photoshop, and then I process them to JPEGs for printing purposes and then in to web-safe JPEGs for sharing online. All in all, the process takes on average, about 30 minutes a picture. Not because I am "photoshopping" your picture, but because a RAW file is just information. That information needs to be turned in to a picture and then adjusted and sharpened so it can be printed. This is so we get the best possible quality!
This here is a fine example because it's a dramatic difference. Over the summer my husband got this really great shot of me and my girls! Only, the settings were on "auto" which wasn't set to allow enough light in because it was adjusting the light to the sky! So alas, the picture was underexposed making it unusable for printing, especially if you are someone that doesn't know anything about editing! And how unflattering is my rolled up shirt with my panties and hip sticking out!? Even with my knowledge of Photoshop, I wasn't sure if I would be able to save it while keeping it's quality. But as you all know by now, I treasure any picture of me and my girls because I am usually the one taking the picture meaning I am rarely IN them so I had to try. With a little of this and a little of that, and about 45 minutes later, PRESTO!