The claim that Photoshop is cheating and not "reality" anymore, obviously originates from a well-known fact (although, sadly, not well enough for many depressed teenagers). This is, that lifestyle magazines portraying all these hordes of celebrities employ significant retouching to, shall we say, beautify "reality" (I keep using quotes on that for a reason, read on).
Do I use Photoshop to make the photos of the people I take look better? Of course I do. Do I make them look something they are not? Of course I don't. But Photoshopping is a continuation of the process of taking a picture: it is there to tweak some technical matters that cannot be fully tweaked while taking the photo. For better or for worse, a camera cannot capture a scene the way our eyes see it. Both because our eyes cannot freeze time, and also because our eyes see in ways a camera can't (yet) - different color perception, much different dynamic range perception, and all that.
A shadow under an eye; a little spot distracting an even surface; highlights that make the skin look greasy and dirty. All these are things we do not notice on everyday life, when we see a person. But once they are encaptured on a photo, they are very, very visible. So, forget about "getting it right the first time". Some few photographs might work like that - although, still, they would greatly benefit from some post-production work. Most need at least a little tweaking.
As for "reality" and why it is in quotes. I won't go into philosophical analyses of reality, but in photographic terms, people ignore the fact that what a camera captures is not reality. An image, printed on paper or displayed on a screen, even less so. Go as far back as you want, photographs always involved a dark room where certain decisions had to be made. In some ways, Photoshop retouching is closer to "reality" (=what our eyes see) than in the old days! And yet few, up until computers appeared, questioned how real is the image depicted on a photo.
Consider the following two sets of images. The white balance has been tampered with. Unless you have been present in the scenes, it is very difficult to be certain which of the two is the case.
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This is not a matter of "Photoshopping" - simply a point that a camera does not capture "reality". In film days, it would have depended on what kind of film (what temperature it would have been) to see the same effect. The bottom line is, you cannot trust your eyes - in the sense: cameras do not capture "reality"
So, the claim "Photoshop is for geeks, I'm a traditional photographer", is certainly not applicable for someone using a digital camera. Because it is the equivalent of a film photographer taking photos and then not developing them.
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