There was an article recently published by Audubon Magazine (C) about the nature of nature photography. The article posed the question about what are the limits of digital manipulation. Since the article's publication, my wife and I have been discussing what is the point and goal of Nature photography. Is it to document? Is to connect with nature? Or is it just a hobby? Of course, which question you choose to answer influences and tells you a bit about how you think nature photography.
IS IT TO DOCUMENT? Of course, documentation is a clear point of photography and of nature photography. Everyone wants to grab the perfect shot and the perfect moment that captures the light, movement, and subject in the best ways. For me, this is of key importance. Capturing what we see and how we see it are of paramount importance to me. Part of my drive since entering the birding world has been to document the different species that I've seen. But does this take away from a sighting if I can't see or if the sighting is brief or impossible to photograph? Not at all, but the urge to record has driven people to great lengths around the world.
IS TO CONNECT WITH NATURE? Photographs are just another way to connect with nature. If connecting with nature is the goal, then artistic expression is a part of eliciting human connectivity with nature. Photography is definitely a wonderful art medium and can connect people to the natural world and the larger human world. In this case, digital manipulation is a great and useful tool to improving quality and adding depth to images. For the viewer and the photographer, connections can be a great incentive to continue taking photographs!
OR IS IT JUST A HOBBY? Well, this is a much tougher question and one that I don't necessary have an answer too. So instead enjoy some photos. How would you manipulate these photos or not?
Link to Audubon Magazine Article: Click Here