Nice pictures dubaiphil. I know the problem of new photographers and new to RAW.
It's hard to know what to do and when to do it in post processing. Made some mistakes myself in the beginning when the green grass all looked fake and stuff. I am still not very good at it but at least I can manage to keep it natural looking (as far as I can judge from my crappy laptop screen).
I prefer working with CaptureNX2 myself. CaptureNX2 has color control points and is very very easy to correct local problem in contrast saturation or even boost/change colors (i.e. the sky).
My usual workflow in Capture NX2 is:
- Correct Exposure (hardly ever have to to that)
- Set black & white control point (and adjust opacity/contrast for those control points). Always! have to do that.
- Set contrast/saturation for entire image (usually don't have to do it for whole image so I usually skip it).
- rescue highlights or shadows.
- Set color control points to adjust brightness/contrast/saturation for local problem in the image. I.e. sky overexposed(commonly known as outbite).
- Adjust sharpness (Usually highpass filter seems to work better then unsharp mask).
- add photo effects (i.e. black & White, sepia)
-Change color profile (i.e. SRGB).
- Save the RAW file (you can always delete whatever change you did with the image and go back to the original).
If you are changing the photo effects i.e. black & white you might have to adjust some more. I am reading a book on digital B&W photography now and how to adjust and when and why. Good book, a bit technical but an eyeopener to someone that used to hit the "convert to B&W" button (I am that person). Was not really happy with the result but didn't know how to improve it.
Some steps are not even necessary always.
But this is my workflow how I usually do it. I am by no means an expert. But I rather adjust local contast/brightness/saturation issues instead of doing it for the whole image. because for the whole image usually does not work in my limited experience.
Maybe look in youtube for some examples how other people do it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyBiJ1y7 ... re=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrIG5c2s ... re=related
I use ViewNX to browse my RAW files by the way and select "open in CaptureNX" in the ViewNX menu whenever I want to edit a file.