The fact is, the iconic Ansel Adams spent masses of time in the darkroom after his shoots, editing his plates and negatives with techniques such as dodging and burning to get the results he was after. Editing, while being a time-consuming process, may range from 5 minutes per image to much, much more depending on what is being done. Most photographers--myself included--will at the very least, make tiny corrections to exposure, color saturation, contrast, sharpness and often composition itself, tended to by cropping.
With current software, the trend is moving quickly towards HDR, or High Dynamic Range photography. Essentially, the photographer takes three exposures of a scene which has variable light. The exposures are taken on a tripod, so as little of the scene as possible changes between the shots. The photographer adjusts the exposure of each shot, so that the dark foreground, the moderate mid-ground and the bright background are properly exposed across three images. Then, in post-production, the images are blended to create one image where all aspects are perfectly exposed.
There are some really good HDR images out there, but the human eye is a dynamic mechanism, so as we look at a scene, our pupils dilate and contract to admit more or less light for the eye to process the image. We get used to processing a scene based on our eyes' abilities to deal with varying light.
I find that using filters--specifically graduated filters--works best for me these days. These are small rectangles of glass or plastic which have half tinted in neutral density grey (so that they darken the scene without affecting color) and the other half is clear. Mounted on the camera lens, the operator can have the grassy foreground nicely exposed so all the color and detail is evident, while the darker upper half of the filter tames the bright light of the horizon/sunset, to provide a balanced result.
Results of this can be seen at this blog, http://singhray.blogspot.com/ My filters are all Singh-Ray. They just seem to work better for me than any others I've used. This isn't a paid endorsement. I just like the product, it works well, and the range of filters available means you can manage bright and harsh light at shoots with a variety of filters.