When I worked as a photographer at a newspaper, we had a rule: If it couldn't have been done in the wet darkroom, we were not to do it in Photoshop. Messing too much with pictures was a firing offence.
Get it right when you're shooting it. Distracting backgrounds and off balance compositions have to be eliminated in the shooting and not in Photoshop. Get caught taking something out of the background and you might well find yourself being taken out of the newsroom. (That said, outright lies in photographs were quite another matter. The chain that owned the paper for which I worked saw nothing wrong with using models in news photos; The paper I worked for saw this as a travesty.)
Which brings me to today. I am now shooting with a Fuji HS10. It's slow. The shutter lag can be a killer. It can be awfully hard to get the composition just so. Today's image had too little water at the bottom and was a little shy on the left, too. I took the image and, using content aware in Photoshop, I added extra water on the bottom and left.
The picture looks better but is it still an honest picture? Doing what I did is sort of creative but does that allow this to slip by under the umbrella defence of this-is-art? It is hard to take too much credit for the craft, that credit goes to the software writers at Adobe.
I know if I still worked at the paper, I would leave unbalanced swans alone. Is this still a good rule? My gut feeling is this question risks stirring up a lot of unbalanced critical comments. (I found I had to import the entire image below to show what I am talking about; It appeared cropped in the image used create the blog post icon. Is this a bug in the Digital Journal software?)
The bottom and left of this image was generated by the content aware trick in Photoshop. This can be a firing offence at some newspapers.