Bright Green and Yellow Leaves, and Why I Don't Edit My Photography
I want to say again at this point that none of my images (save a few that were edited for privacy or security reasons, and stated as such in their posts) that appear under "The Photographer", the banner under which all of my photography appears, are post-processed. I realise that in this age of infinite pre-shot modifications, such as lenses and filters or white balance and ISO, the claim of photographic purity is quite hollow. I know well enough that choosing a monochrome setting before taking a shot is rarely different from changing the same colour image into monochrome in Photoshop: at the end of the day, you'll still end up with the same image.
Nevertheless, I still draw a distinction between the two; the line between them may be blurry, but that doesn't mean it isn't there (cheap joke: perhaps you should adjust your focus, eh?). And that line is the shutter's snap. That is when the image is created. Anything before that moment is just possibility, variables that determine the end result, but have no effect afterwards. You have ideas and an internal picture of what it'll look like. When the shot is taken, all those variables and possibilities and ideas culminate to form the image. It is copied to your memory card, or a chemical reaction saves it on the film, or, to put it in two different ways, the painter's paint dries on the canvas, or the footballer has kicked the ball. Everything leads up to this moment, and after it, there's no going back. What's done is done.
Until you manipulate it, of course. And I purposefully use "manipulate", because that's what it is. By editing it, you're changing it from what it originally was. And it's here that opinions divide, as we can employ a reductio ad absurdum to prove the logical fallacy of my belief: if one balks at the manipulation of photographs, they would also have to balk at the thought of body modification (from the benign earing and tattoo to more extreme implant), electric guitars and effects pedals, agriculture, and clothing. But then, there is nothing wrong with not wanting holes in your ears with metal loops hanging from them, preferring to play a Spanish guitar, hunting and gathering, or going nude.
Ultimately, it's all a value judgement. The correct answer applies only to each individual person. In my case, I believe that there is more joy in putting some effort into creating something, seeing the result pop up on the screen, and for three seconds thinking, "Dang, that looks cool." Even with all the flaws and imperfections that come with a photographer that is, frankly, not special in the slightest. That small joy is, to me, still large enough to be worth more than lackadaisically (in the modern sense) moving onto the next shot, remarking, "Eh, I'll just fix it later."