Yes, this was a great read all the way, and clarified many Truths.
In particular, I liked the point made about how digital makes it easier
to work in different styles, and yet that also opens up the potential
for "too much diversity". Each artist must decide when too much is
"too much". I do think society has an insecure need to slap labels on
artists, and expect them to do just one thing...forever.
I like that Alain is brave enough to risk that himself, by his interest
in shooting other subjects besides his signature landscapes.
The freedom to explore the world with our cameras, in a variety of ways,
seems to keep the fun and mystery intact.
As for manipulating images, we all have our personal parameters on
this. I've found if I captured beautiful light to begin with, I can stay
very minimal in post processing, such as levels, saturation, etc.
As for, say, cloning, I will always clone out a soft drink can, or bit of this or
that if it detracts in some way, and if it has nothing to do with the subtext
of the photograph, which leads back to the "style and diversity" issue.
However, I won't clone to the degree that I'm re-creating a large part
of the original shot. Again, it's a personal choice.
The only part of Alain's essay I really disagree with is his unwillingness
to use Ford Econoline tires on his Veyron. To extend the life of the
oem tires, I often use the van tires on my Veyron during everyday operation.
While they do look weird, and some might say I'm being "penney wise
and pound foolish", I've found the van tires to work just fine. Ok, at
200 mph they may get a bit "squirrely", and I suppose I should keep my
speed down when doing grocery runs. Still, I will always swap back to
the oems when planning any serious stuff, such as the outrunning of
policemen, and performing dangerous maneuvers in heavy traffic.