deaner1971 wrote:. . . Technology would let you couple a technically perfectly exposed set of rocks with a technically perfectly exposed sky but should you?
I'll play devil's advocate here. Why not? It think your question goes to the heart of what most of us are trying to do here - which is not "reportage" photography, but making images; viz, art. So I would substitute "should" you to "do you want" to?
If "realism" is what you are seeking, then you are absolutely correct that you have to pay attention to the light and it has to be natural (either what was there, or what could be there in nature, given the conditions). Again, we have to be careful not to go the other direction (I said here the other day that because our eyes are so technically good as seeing detail in hard light conditions, we have to be careful not to let that fool us into thinking our camera will capture and display the same thing we "saw"). OTOH, we also have to be careful not to get so "technical" that we don't let our creativity allow us to create an image that either "could be" or that we saw or imagined in our mind's eye.