I saw a lovely landscape photograph yesterday, which the photographer had felt the need to note that he had made with sunlight and not photoshop and asked that we support real photography, whatever that is. The comment was not necessary and the picture spoke for itself (or should have).
I always wonder why it’s those photographers who don’t use (or say they don’t use) editing software that feel they have to mention this. The careful use of editing software is a whole other skillset that enhances a photographer’s ability to either realise his or her vision or to meet a client’s requirements. Since I have invested time, effort and resources into learning these skills (with still a huge amount to learn) I’m certainly not going to throw it away by insisting everything is done “in camera”. Besides, if you insist on this you are entrusting your vision to the the camera, the technology (and limitations) of the sensor and the sensilbilities of those that design the software that converts the raw image data to the picture you download from the card.
As a minimum I make corrections for the lens used, correct colour balance, adjust sharpness to suit the subject and proposed use of the photograph and add global or local adjustments to contrast and clarity. If necessary I will adjust vibrance and saturation although, as often as not, I reduce saturation rather than enhance it.
For personal work, such as landscapes or natural history photography, I rarely remove things, have never added anything and never changed a sky. I am, however, happy to make tonal and other adjustments to fit the mood I experienced at the time of taking the photograph.
For client shots the sky is the limit – I have a brief to fulfil and will use any means necessary to make the right image, short of CGI and digital art. In these cases I am happy to blend photographic elements, remove objects that I have used to support a set-up and add or remove background effects or unwanted features. Circumstance often makes such adjustments necessary and, if I didn’t have the skillset to make such adjustments, I’d be selling my client short.