I see so many photos on Facebook and even printed and framed that are JPEGs straight from the camera (or phone). Snapshots of people are usually OK, because cameras and phones are optimized for that, but anything else–travel shots, for example–are usually flat and boring.
Here’s an example from a recent trip to Denmark. First, the out-of-the-camera JPEG:
And here’s the identical shot after I processed the raw image with Lightroom and Topaz Detail:
(Click on either photo to get to the SmugMug gallery, where you can see the images much larger.)
That detail in the sky was really there all along. You just couldn’t see it in the JPEG.
To see what you can do without investing in Lightroom and Topaz Detail, I took the original JPEG and played with it for about 10 min. in Windows Photo Gallery, distributed by Microsoft for free:
It doesn’t have the impact of the Lightroom/Topaz Detail version, but it’s way better than the original. So, even a little post-processing in the simplest photo app is worth the time. But to get rocks that aren’t a muddle and a dramatic sky, you do have to use professional tools.