I've avoided this topic until now because it seems almost arrogant to preach to others about technique when every photographer has something to learn. Still, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the subject today.
As I might have mentioned previously, I believe that the two most important qualities that a photographer should possess are the ability to effectively compose a shot and a passion for the chosen subject matter. Without both of these, expensive equipment and technical knowledge is largely wasted. I've taken several photos with a good quality point-and-shoot camera that are worthy of inclusion alongside my best dSLR shots. Once a photographer masters the basics, he / she can begin to invest in better equipment, but simply owning a new dSLR does not make a person a photographer.
Digital photography makes traditional developing obsolete. Processing is now done with photo editing software. This does not mean that a digital photo is always 'doctored', but a digital darkroom should almost always be used.
Occasionally, there is a need to perform more serious editing to an image, but this should not be done as a result of poor composition.. In this case, a client requested the following change, from this:
Digital editing should be used to enhance a photo, not to rescue a poor shot. If in doubt, take it again. Poor editing is just as bad as poor photography.
Software has allowed the use of several new techniques in addition to new versions of trusted methods such as filters. One new tool, which is quite divisive among photographers, is High Dynamic Range imaging. This technique results in more intense, more saturated and often surrealist images. It takes skill to do properly, but you will not see examples on my website. I freely admit that I am not a fan. It can make a mediocre image much more impressive, but the final image is no longer a representation of reality. I prefer to seek out the outstanding scenes and capture the natural beauty in the high country. I suppose that makes me a traditionalist in some way, but I don't believe that a great photo requires this kind of enhancement. Every photographer has his or her style, and I'd like to think that my love for the outdoors (and willingness to go much further than a roadside spot to bring those images to my audience) is evident in my work.
Just for fun, here are a couple of highly edited versions of my work. They are interesting, but I wouldn't hang them on my wall!