I've been using Photoshop Elements since version 2, I think, and it does most of what Photoshop does at a fraction of the price and with an easier interface. I also like Lightroom---its editing capabilities are pretty amazing, again not nearly as expensive as the full photoshop, but it does only certain types of editing--for example, it doesn't have layers. So one suggested strategy is to start with Lightroom (load your photos into the lightroom library), do most of your editing there, and then for specialized stuff, then open it in Photoshop or PS Elements.
If you are trying HDR photography (taking 3 or more sequential shots at different exposures with the intent to merge them), PhotoMatix is pretty amazing. I've found that I can also use it on a single image to do a better automated job of fixing the exposure (rather than starting with shadows and then highlights manually, for instance)--and then it provides a bunch of preset output styles so you can pick one that you like to get a customized feel. There's a basic and a pro version, both reasonably priced.
Anyone know how to edit hardware photos? Like removing smudges off of wheels and also dust off the nearby floor. How to tweak and perfect hardware photos... I'm looking for either a tutorial, person to guide me or a website.. if anyone can help point me in the right direction that would be splendid..