Post-Processing -- How Much?
Like most jihads in photography, the one over post-processing didn't begin in the digital age. A hundred years ago, there were some photographers who regarded the developing process as essential part of the creative process and approached it as an art in itself, and others who had utter contempt for the darkroom. The proper role of post-processing in your work is simply whatever helps you attain your objectives. I tend to cycle between limiting myself to the most basic post-processing (noise reduction, sharpening, etc.) and very extensive work on images -- and there always some images that require a significant amount of work in order to realize their potential. But in the end, it's a matter of one's personal approach to photography, one's personal style and one's artistic preferences and interests. The only dictum is: There is no worst waste of time than to trying to salvage a bad image in Photoshop. Another might be: More good images meet their death in Photoshop than are enhanced by it. And finally: You have to know when to stop! [There is a hard lesson to learn in painting as well -- but you have to know when a work is as good as it's ever going to be; and that if you continue working on it past that point you're going to destroy it].
John A. Youril