Yes, in this wonderful digital age of photography, magic is at our fingertips. Compare the two versions of the same image above. The BEFORE image is how it came out of the camera. The AFTER version is after the quick and easy use of Lightroom brought out the dark tones and added detail to the light tones.
There are still many photographers who are hesitant to use image optimization software like Lightroom. (There are other options available, too, but Lightroom is my personal favorite.) Yes, you can do many of the same things, if you shoot RAW, in Photoshop or Elements. But I find Lightroom to be much faster and much better than anything else out there. And it is easy to learn, and it does not take much time to optimize most images.
It took about one minute to improve this image. The Shadows were lightened, the Highlights were darkened, Clarity was boosted slightly, and Vibrance was increased. Simple and quick.
Those who have never used Lightroom, or even some people who have taken a class or two, express three basic concerns - a long learning curve to understand the software, a significant time involvement for optimizing each image, and a requirement to completely change the way they have organized and stored their images in the past. In fact, those concerns are based on misunderstandings, or in some cases from having taken a class that just confused them or did not present the facts and techniques in a logical and simple manner.
Truth be told, you cannot learn Lightroom in a half-day or a day-long class. A more in-depth class will enable you to learn it properly, and be completely comfortable with it when you get home.
If the time is right for you to finally learn Lightroom properly, consider the upcoming LIGHTROOM UNLEASHED workshop coming up in March. Details here http://awakethelight.com/2015-tour-calendar/ Those who have taken it before have raved about it, and at the conclusion of the class finally "got it."
Shutter Speed 1/80 sec. Aperture f/4. ISO 800. Lens: Canon 17-40 f/4L set at 40mm. Camera: Canon 5D Mark III. Handheld.