Lately, I have been asking myself the question when does digital photography cease to be photography in the classic, analog sense and when does it need a new name like digital imaging or even creative digital imaging? The tools to manipulate images and, indeed, the manipulated images themselves have become so commonplace that there should be some sort of rating or standard for how much manipulation has been done to an image. Some camera makers are even putting the alteration capabilities right into the cameras.
To construct a classification system for altered images, you might start by thinking of it in terms of the categories that are placed on what is nominally supposed to be fruit juice. The substance may, in fact, not be 100% juice; rather it is frequently diluted, mixed with other juices, or high fructose corn syrup or is totally not juice with only an artificial ‘juice flavor’ added to it. (I had a remarkably hard time finding the actual classification system for juice, so if anyone has a link, I would appreciate it.) So building on the juice analogy, perhaps the categorization/labeling goes something like this (with DP representing Digital Photography and DI were I believe it becomes something else Digital Imaging):
|100% Juice||DP||Photo as it came straight from the camera with some cropping and rotation allowed|
|Juice||DP||Photo has had some contrast and other color channel adjustments|
|Juice Drink||DP/I||Photo has had significant adjustment made to it (filters, dodging, cloning, bw conversion)|
|Juice Beverage||DI||Photo original content has been altered by addition of visual elements not in the original; may actually be a composite image at this point|
|Beverage||DI||Image has been altered to the extent that it can no longer reasonably be called a photo; the image represented does not, has not, nor will likely ever exist in real life|