Compare these two identical images. The Before version is how it came out of the camera. The After image is after a little optimization in Lightroom. The differences are significant. Lightroom was able to bring out the colors and allowed the texture in the dark foreground to be much more visible.
The After image is what was really there, but was not what I saw when I initially downloaded the images from a day of shooting. When your images look dull or lacking in intensity or "punch," it is not your fault. It is just the nature of digital image capture. All the color and detail is really there, but it takes software like Lightroom to bring out the latent colors and details.
This was a unique situation, with the full moon setting at sunrise. It was an awe-inspiring sight. Lightroom brought out the strong pinks and blues easily, helped increase the contrast, and provided texture in all the dark areas. In 10 easy steps, and in less than 3 minutes, this image went from so-so to powerful.
There are many online tutorials out there, but there is no substitute for an in-depth class with a knowledgeable instructor right there to guide you. If that appeals to you, and you can get to Richmond, Virginia in March, consider taking the Lightroom Unleashed workshop. It is a 3-day class that will give you all the information you need to use Lightroom efficiently and with confidence. And your images will have more impact than you imagined possible. Information here http://awakethelight.com/lightroom-2014/
Shutter Speed 1/4 sec. Aperture f/11. ISO 400. Lens: Canon 17-40mm, set at 21mm. Camera: Canon 5D Mark III. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.