I take lots of photos, and just about all of the ones that are published on this blog have been processed through Photoshop. I must start by stating that I in no way consider myself to be any sort of Photoshop expert - there are lots of things that can probably be done, or can done a lot more easily, that I have no idea about.
The vast majority of the images that I post on here have minimal intervention other than adjusting contrast/levels if necessary, a little unsharpening, cropping and then I save in the web-optimised format. Here's an example of something straight from the camera - no adjustments or cropping, just resized:
and here's the same image cropped and with minimal tweaking:
This is the typical pre and post Photoshop result that I am comfortable with as being 'normal' for digital photography, and I would in no way consider this to be 'cheating'. But the amount of adjustment and fiddling is basically dependant on how good the original image is, and that in itself is dependant on how good the lighting was etc. Sometimes to get something useable requires a bit more effort, like removing colour casts or changing colour curves.
Here's an example of a completely useless original image of a mobile subject taken in rubbish indoor lighting - no tweaking at all, just resized:
and here's the same image after removing the colour cast, tweaking contrast and levels, unsharpening and cropping - still a rubbish image but a bit more useable than might have been possible without Photoshop:
To my mind, this is still within the bounds of acceptable manipulation - any dissenters?
Even less frequently though, I'll do something a bit more fundamental like completely removing an annoying bit of background or fixing some damage. Here's a before and after comparison:
On the one hand I am quite chuffed at how expertly I have copied part of the right wing, flipped it and pasted it onto the damaged left one such that you wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't told you. However I do feel as though this is the equivalent of airbrushed actresses in their late 40s appearing on magazines without any wrinkles or blemishes and always with just the one chin.
So, where exactly is the boundary between acceptable and deceitful digital manuipulation of images? Is there one? All thoughts and comments welcomed.