It took me roughly five minutes to convert this from color to black and white and then adjust the contrast and tonality to my liking. If it grows on me over time I may go back and spend and extra ten. Would it be a better photograph if I had spent five hours on it? I'll never know. I just don't have that kind of time.
One of the most important aspects of digital photography is how you manage your workflow—that is, how you structure the flow of work involved in producing a digital photograph.
“Producing a digital photograph” can mean different things to different photographers. For some it means ending up with a Photoshop file that has a minimum of six layers, backed up onto three different media and printed at 11 x 17 inches on an inkjet printer. For others it simply means printing the JPEGs from their memory card at the local drug store.
Some of those who do the former often sneer at those who do the latter because, after all, any “real” photographer knows how essential it is to shoot raw, use Lightroom or Aperture for global adjustments, and then move the best images into Photoshop for local adjustments and fine-tuning, with perhaps a few special filters and curves applied for good measure.
To this my response is that it’s possible, just possible, that there is no strict relationship between the time you spend on your photos and the ultimate quality of said photos. You could work for hours to improve a mediocre photograph only to end up with an improved version of a mediocre photograph.
This could be worth the time and effort if you were doing it as a learning exercise. If not, you might want to ask yourself if there might be a better way. Digital cameras and computers are, after all, supposed to be labor-saving devices. Why not use them to reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to produce photographs?
For example, instead of shooting raw, then converting the images to JPEGs for printing or distribution, why not set your camera to raw+JPEG and let you camera do the conversions for you? To make the JPEGs look good you’d have to get your white balance and exposure right from the start, but this too saves you time in the long run.
Other time-savers include automating the process of ingesting, naming and storing your image files, assigning metadata, and sorting the best from the rest. Anything you do often that takes more time than you’d like is a good candidate for automating. Look at it this way: The less time you spend sitting in front of your computer, the more you can spend shooting, or maybe even interacting with other people. You don’t have to use your camera or be social, of course. It’s just a suggestion.