Well, talking about manipulation got a few people 'hot under the collar'. Seems like people have strong feelings about the subject but that opinions vary from "how dare you" to "right on, brother".
Nothing wrong with a bit of controversy. I would like to raise a few points for you to ponder though.
If the end result doesn't look manipulated, how is anyone to tell?
If you can't tell, how are you going to "police" the "editing"?
Even if we were to issue a "guaranteed not manipulated" certificate, how are you going to detect cheaters?
Exactly how would you define cheating anyway?
If you can't define something, then you can't legislate against it - see diff. with obscenity laws?
Is there really a difference between removing an errant twig and a scratch on the negative - the same tools are used?
Do you really believe that the radical alterations in images that people like Bruce Barnbaum do with their dodging, burning, local contrast adjustment with multigrade papers and filters and especially with bleaching, producing a result that is radically different from the original; is somehow different from what we do in Photoshop?
Perhaps the real difference is: It's one thing to manipulate the hell out of a pixel, it's another to create the pixel de novo.
It's often helpful to take things to extremes to see how arguments hold up, so I offer the following scenario.
A talented imaginative Photoshoper starts with a completely blank "canvas" and produced an image which no one can tell from a real photograph. Of course, the entire image comes from the imagination of the artist. He submits said image for a show of photographs and is selected and the image is hung in a gallery along with all the other "real" photographs.
Why does that upset some people"
Can we not admire the fellow's Photoshop skills and more importantly his imagination to produce something from nothing?
Is it not harder to start with nothing?
Why this obcession in some photographers for fidelity to the original scene. Does this also preclude tying back some errant branches so you can get a clear view, perhaps removing a dead blade of grass in front of a burned stump you are photographing, or removing that Pepsi can that is spoiling the scene?
What is the difference between removing the Pepsi can before hand and after?
What if the Pepsi can were in a position to which you cannot get - so removing it beforehand isn't an option?
Is the Pepsi can really natural - after all, one good rain and it will be gone?
Should we differentiate between minor manipulation and wholesale alteration?
If so, how would you define it - perhaps an upper limit of "created pixels - say 1%?
But is an image with 1.1% created pixels fundamentally different?
Do you even care?
Have a nice day.