Lately I've found that I can usually capture the image the way I envision it as far as exposure and composition but I begin to flail around in getting it from RAW file or negative/transparency to final output. I look at what other photographers are doing and can identify aspects of the photos I like (changing exposure/contrast/color/saturation/sharpness/DR/WB/etc) but I'm having a problem translating those things to my photographs at a high level. And by that I mean I know how to twiddle a slider in any given app but just increasing contrast or just desaturating doesn't do it, there is some interplay between these adjustments or reason why they were used that create the style and thats what I'm missing.
I'm finding that most books or websites in this area come in one of two flavors:
1) A compilation of all the features/sliders/toggles of a particular program and what they each do which is irrelevant to this particular line of question
2) A compilation of looks or styles and how to accomplish them using a particular program but get bogged down in how to accomplish them with that software instead of why the adjustments are being made which is the cart leading the horse.
It might sound like it but I'm not looking for a book on color theory or the emotional impact of different whatever on the viewer :) I'm looking more for something that discusses why it seems like desaturation is often coupled with lightened exposure and a blue shift in WB? And what other groupings of adjustments work well together independent of what software/hardware your doing it with or on.