I've come across a couple interesting things recently. First, I read a post by a photo seller talking about how he/she doesn't believe in "manipulating" the images that come out of the camera. The idea is that downstream editing somehow detracts from their creative value. Then at a gallery opening (my work), a woman asked if I "manipulated" my images before printing. I explained that I did lots of things to focus composition, adjust color and tone, and otherwise "finish" the image in a way that I felt was right according to the image and what I was hoping to say or convey with it. I also tried to explain that this idea of "finishing" is not at all new, that many of the greatest photographers (like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and W. Eugene Smith for example) were not just good with cameras and finding worthwhile subjects, they were also master printers. And, as anyone who has spent time in a wet darkroom knows, the work with the enlarger is all about "painting with light."
Anyway, it's fascinating to me that in this new digital age, Photoshop and other creative tools are viewed suspiciously, perhaps because so much has been said about "doctored" photographs where the changes have been made for the purpose of misleading or misrepresenting. But this (IMHO) is not at all what creative photographers are doing. I think it's important to broaden people's understanding of what really goes on in the digital darkroom, and that it really isn't any different (tools and techniques, yes, creative intent, no) than what great photographers have been doing for a long time.
I'd love to hear comments/questions about this and related subjects and hope to explore these ideas in future posts.