I'm starting to go through the last ten years of work and I've got to say that I'm a big fan of the shit I've been able to do using a computer. When I began shooting I was using a 35mm camera and everything that was in the frame was in the shot, the final print was nothing other than the negative. But when I started to work with digital images I was able to get to business with all the darkroom tools that weren't part of I-95 at the outset. Dodge and burn? Yes. Cropping? Yes. Distortion to change the lens rounding of the image? Yes.
Still photographs on their own are false, they are 2 dimensional. We make the meaning of them. But they are real at the same time, they are a true recording of the moment.
From The Ethics of Digital Manipulation by Jerry Lodriguss published on an astronomy site.
"The fundamental fact that we usually forget is that when we take a picture we do not make a perfectly objective recording of reality. What we make is an interpretation of reality.
Another problem in the "accurate" recording of nature is inherent in the choice of technology used by a photographer. Do you prefer Kodachrome of Velvia color film? Take your pick. Which particular Canon digital picture style do you like: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, or Monochrome? Which is a "true" recording of nature? None of these are. Each is an interpretation of nature. There is no film or digital camera that perfectly and accurately records nature even on this simple level.
It is also a fact that color is created in the mind of the observer. It is not a physical property of objects in the world, just as pain is not a physical property of the baseball that hits you in the eye.
Another way that still photography departs from reality is that it "freezes" time. We experience reality as a continuous stream while we are conscious. Motion video mimics this, but traditional still photography does not."