I was admiring the cover of National Audubon Society Guide to Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris. You can do a search for it elsewhere, it's a great photo on the cover but my point is:
Is it TOO good? Is it TOO perfect?
I want to preface this with giving Mr. Fitzharris all the benefit of the doubt. I make no claims to this particular image other than to state it is FANTASIC! I'm sure he used the best of his skills to capture it. Right place, right time, right gear, right approach etc... Results speak for them selves. I have absolutly no suspicisions it's its altered in anyway and just use it as an example of a perfect image captured with skill.
But Are we now at a place where TOO good could be a hindrance to our craft? Was the cloud perhaps "moved" more to center to enhance the compisition? I'm not saying it was but I'm sure this is done.
How soon before stunning images like this are doubted on merit as PS pros are creating simlar images with libraries of sunset files? I guess for me it's right now!
Sure we all enhance the lighting, spot out a camera artifact but I'm sure most of us would think twice before altering the image, say in moving a tree, or a piece of litter not noticed at the exposure.
Stephen Johnson touches on this in "SJ on Digital Photography" wher he took a prairie type image and later found a paper cup in the image. He may have removed it had he seen it but now it's part of the image, he left as is for publication.
Of course we see the debate rage in photojournalism circles about ethics and how pyramids are moved by NGeo but what about the average landscape photographer?
Will things being a little bit askew be the mark of a straight image? Kinda like the defects on real leather as opposed to perfect naugahyde?
Once again I want to make clear the image of Mr. Fitzharris I refer to is used for an example only. I'm sure it's as straight an image as one can make.