If you've never read the blog The Pioneer Woman, then I recommend you do. It's a great place to read about the basics of photography and learn all sorts of tips to improve your photography.
So, I've been trying to get better SOOC (straight out of camera) images. With the goal being to do the least amount of editing in Photoshop afterwards. And that means just nailing exposure, right? Yes and no.
With my camera (Canon 5d Mk II) I found "nailing exposure" meant overexposing my images between 1-2 stops past what the inbuilt meter recommended. (So instead of having the meter line straight in the middle...I have it 1 or 2 bars to the right) But still...the photos were looking rather...dull.
And then I had a "doh" moment after reading this post. My "Picture Style" was set to Neutral in my camera...which is a setting that definitely requires some post production work. It had never occurred to me to play around with the Picture Style setting in my camera. So I did. And I loved it! I did a customised setting, playing around with sharpness, contrast, saturation - and immediately saw a difference in the SOOC images.
(images are SOOC)