Post processing in photography is sometimes questioned as unnatural and unnecessary....Is it? The answer is no, it is a natural element of photography. It's the use of programs like Photoshop, Gimp, Photomatix and other photo graphics software based on computers that creates the illusion of it being unnatural because those who refer to them selves as "Naturalists" are always saying that film existed long before computers and digital photography. The use of graphics programs in photography predates graphics programs, believe it or not. Through out various darkroom practices anything could be accomplished from a slight saturation boost to King Kong in the city. All photoshop actions where all derived from a few things, some that predate even film. Those things are painters tools like paint brushes, media textures and the like, dark room techniques like USM, cloning and the like as well as with camera tools like colored filters, exposure adjustment and so on. Post processing photos is absolutely necessary, wile yes many cameras now have the ability to do the basic post processing techniques, it is still best to do them your self. Photos straight out of the camera are often in need of attention. Sharpness, saturation, color balance are integral elements in the final photo, often as important as composition and subject matter. Back in the early days of film many needed to learn the darkroom in order to be able to even enter into photography. This for the most part holds true even today. Learning how to use the software at hand is almost as important as learning basic composition theory. Even if your work is composed perfectly if the final image under saturated or fuzzy people will notice this and your work will go largely unnoticed additionally Over processing an image will bare the same results. In this digital world we live in the process of learning is made much easier than ever before with a wide selection of tutorials on the internet, it matters little what programs you have at your disposal with some research you can find tutorials on any program imaginable even those considered obsolete. No photoshop can not make a bad photo an award winner, never could. So one still needs to know how to take an award winning photo before they get an award winning photo. That is the nature of photography, knowing how to take a photograph from start to finish. This includes but is not limited to post processing. Beginners often fall into the rut of thinking that they can be sloppy when they take the photo and that they can just fix it in photoshop later, often completely neglecting fore thought, but it does not work that way. Post processing programs like photoshop, photomatix are tools of the trade and need to be used responsibly. Like a hammer, any one can use it, but it can't fix a hole in drywall if its user does not know how to put up drywall. If you do not know how to take a photo Photoshop can't fix the photo. If you can take a photo, photoshop is always there to make the necessary little repairs and fixes.