Digital Enhancement and Digital Manipulation
Let’s be clear, there is a fundamental difference between digital enhancement and digital manipulation, the images below of the aurora borealis have been manipulated, two images combined to make one, or the moon (below); impossible to capture during an eclipse I added the moon. Contrary to popular belief Dinosaurs no longer live so I had to add one. And finally the D-Day photo, which I took for an exhibition of UpOttery airfield, the 101st airborne left from there for Normandy in 1944 - The American soldiers were re-enactors and the Dakota was taken a year earlier, (It is the same plane taken twice and pasted six times). Great fun to do, and I enjoy doing it however, most photo competitions do not permit manipulated images.
I’m talking about digital enhancement, most digital images would benefit from a degree of sharpening, and some from lightening / darkening or even saturating, particularly if using a smartphone as you cannot manually change the settings as you can with a DSLR.
The images below are a little over processed, I have done this to illustrate the point..
There is a plethora of software available for editing photos, The industry standard seems to be Lightroom and Photoshop, which I currently use, this is available on a subscription based purchasing, at about £8 a month for the basic package, If you use it then its worth it.
There are standalone packages - Painstshop, Luminar, Affinity, Phase One, etc. Which one you choose comes down to personal preference, budget and whether you want to buy or subscribe.
There are free editors too - Darktable, Gimp, Apple Photos, Windows Photos etc. Some are easier to use than others, best to experiment.