Photography rides two horses: art and documentation. One has to be careful not to mix up art photography with documentary photography when discussing digital editing. We all realize that there is a whole issue of evidence faking etc. that is very valid in documentary photography.
But this site is focused on the fine art or art-for-art's-sake aspect of photography. If you do art photography and wish to hobble yourself with the technical restrictions that are appropriate for documentary photography, be my guest. This is certainly a valid use of the camera. But my training (and that of many other photographers) in the visual arts goes back to the world of paintbrush and canvas. If I had argued with any of my art teachers that I had included that particular composition-destroying branch in my latest painting because it was really there, he would neither have laughed nor scolded - he would simply have stared at me uncomprehendingly. My job and my obligation as an artist is to express my
vision, not Mother Nature's vision.
Take a look at this
painting by Gauguin. Do we really expect that the swineherder's shoes were bigger than his hat? Or this
painting by Robert Bateman. Do you really believe Robert set up his easel at this location and painted exactly what he saw before his eyes? Does the probability that this was not the case in any way lessen your appreciation of the picture?
The Gauguin painting also illustrates another aspect of the matter: the camera cannot
tell the truth, even without artifice. Not only is the swineherder's shoe bigger than his hat, he himself is bigger than the church steeple to his left or the houses to his right.
The Bateman painting was most likely done from a combination of personal experience and photographs. To the modern representational artist photography is neither an enemy nor an object of distain, but a very useful ally. Much of modern art is done in a genre called photo
realism. If painters are comfortable working hand-in-hand with photography, why should photographers be uncomfortable doing the equivalent in Photoshop? To me this picture
by Robert Ganz is simply good art. If the thought police were to ban it on grounds of digital manipulation I would be very sad.
When I print and frame an image then hang it on a wall, my purpose is not to inform the viewer of what the world looked like on such-and-such a date at such-and-such a place. My purpose is to bring her joy.