They can be tough! I have just transitioned from unemployment to full time employment with an hour and a half commute on either end. So, am I excused from my long absence?
Transitions can be hard to adjust to in life, but they can also be hard to adjust to in a photograph. In a high contrast image, it can be difficult to balance the brights and the darks to avoid over or under exposure of parts of your image. (I could really riff here on the many analogies to life, but really, I'll try to resist...) This is where filters or burning and dodging comes in.
Filters are used at the time of capture to control the amount of light that enters the lens to create the image. This could be done with a half neutral density filter which can help tone down a bright sky while allowing a darker foreground or landscape to get properly exposed. This can be duplicated in the digital darkroom to some exent.
Burning and dodging is a type of post-processing applied after the image has been captured. It's a traditional dark room technique used to reduce or increase the amount of light exposure to portions of a photograph. This can be duplicated somewhat in a digital darkroom as well.
OK, OK, I can't resist the siren call of a good analogy. I tried, but it's like trying to resist eating more chocolates from my Valentine's Day box - virtually impossible!
Just as a picture can be black, white, and every shade of grey in between, so can life. Rarely do we want to stop the over-exposure of those bright moments (unless we suffer from manic episodes), but we often want to brighten up those dark moments. This can be done with a filter - something we look through to see the world - or in the "darkroom" - a place where we process what we see and shape it into what we want to see, what is appealing to our experience of the world.
Both require work, but used well, can greatly enhance our experience of life.