As a film photographer, I usually carried four filters in my camera bag: Red, Yellow, Diffusion, and Polarizer. I used the red and yellow filters to alter the tonality of black and white images, I used the diffusion filter for portraits of women, and I used the polarizer when shooting around glass or water.
Today I still own a polarizer, but I rarely use it. The other effects I simulate (but do not recreate) in software. Sometimes I do it well, and sometimes not. That’s the luxury of amateurism – I even love photography when I fail.
Many years ago, at the introduction of Photoshop 2.5, I attended the short-lived Center for Creative Imaging in Maine. It was really a basic photoshop class, but Kodak and Apple had equipped the joint with state-of-the-art toys. I was ambivalent. When my photo of a capybara with the superimposed skull of a boar got great applause, I turned to the teacher, shrugged, and said, “What the hell? All I did was click on a button.” She grabbed my shoulder firmly and said, “Easy there. I get paid good money to know which button to click.”
Many amateurs have a love-hate relationship with post-processing, but I think it plays a really crucial role in the visioning chain: First you see what it is, and then you see what it could be. The nice thing is that you get to play along the way.