If you are convinced..
Here is where you start..
Will write a detailed post with a little Primer of sorts on the Double Processing RAW Image editing to get both sky and foreground to have details.
Short summary :
1- Shoot in RAW format instead of JPG. Here is the gotcha. When you do this and shoot in RAW, the instant display on your camera will look great but when you download the pictures at home it will not look that great.. Why? because the instant picture on your viewfinder is a JPG done by the Camera's default software to accentuate color tones and sharpness using a set of built in corrections for that sensor!
That means you have to work (hard) to make the RAW image look exactly like it did to your eyes after downloading the picture by modifying it after download to get your own JPG!
2- remember what the actual place looked like. that helps get the correct colors
3- get adobe Photoshop CS5. A friend who works there got it for me for a great discount.
(That means step 2.5 - get a friend who works at Adobe?!)
4- There is a book/video by Scott Kelby called 7-Point System for Camera Raw which goes through a lot of detail on basic editing with Camera RAW. It is a non destructive way to play with the photograph where you can test things. (Yes.. Yes.. I know.. We can save the image as a copy and keep doing Undo and that is non destructive as well, but that is way too time consuming. You will know what I am talking about when you do the edits)
5- Learn this technique called Double Processing where you make two copies of your image.
- in one image focus on the sky (ie, bring out details in the washed out over exposed areas of the original image
- in the second copy ignore the sky (it will practically be white) and instead bring out details in the foreground
- composite the two images by selectively replacing the sky in the washed out white region with the sky from the first copy
It took me a few hours to practice, but it works very well. Have not seen any free tutorials on this that are as good as the one in the DVD which by the way seems to be expensive as well at 69.99 and again step 2.5 helps!
Will do a short screen shot by screen shot primer over the next few weeks to describe this process!
In the mean time we have to appreciate the human eye for its amazing ability to see these scenes in their entire contrast range instantly and the image processor in our brain that can do all this instantaneously.