You've grabbed your tripod, the remote trigger, your favourite lens, did your research for days for the best possible spot and waited for the right weather conditions.
With several pounds of stuff you begin your march in order to take "your" shot.
Shot number one is pretty much always more like an experiment to final check all of the settings.
Exposure, aperture, ISO, leveling and position to get that nice cloud effect - a bonus are the vibrant colors you get out of a long exposure
Shot number two is more close to perfection but still needs some fine adjustments paying off at shots number three and above.
Actions like those take their time and if you're not in summertime, it tends to get freakin' cold.
But the results of struggles like that are speaking for themselves.
The best part is retouching - nearly nothing has to be done.
Maybe you increase contrast a liitle bit, do the white balance, and add some saturation.
Everything else, like the cloud effects, the lights forming little stars, the water and light trails are already done by the principles of photography, the construction of the camera and the lens.
You neither need magic to achieve that nor expensive editing software.
Not even %$#!%$§ Gimp is required.
Pictures like that often get discounted by the sentence "That's just Photoshop!"
That sentence actually means: "That can't be real and I get my cellphone pictures in Photoshop to look just like that in three minutes."
That's very sad - in two ways:
- It shows how people are used to crappy quality and bad images in general.
Good pictures are only possible as a result of excessive editing.
Everything else is impossible.
- That sentence contains the insinuation "You are a bungler - everyone can use Photoshop."
Photographs get less and less recognised as actual accomplishments.
You just press a button and everything else is somehow done by Photoshop.
Anybody who knows Photoshop a bit more, will tell you, that is freaking nonsene.
The imagination of someone catching a cold, getting wet feet and/or ruining clothes while takning a picture for an hour (or longer) ist just absurd.
It's just Photoshop.
In a way photographs get looked at but not viewed.
Countering that behaviour is only possible if the audience is willing to actually listen and to learn.
If not, it's just effort wasted.
You won't re-educate the masses.