I think of myself as a mediocre advanced amateur photographer, who has been thinking and dabbling in the subject most of my life, but have only found the freedom to advance since the introduction of digital. The waste of film, and the annoyance over the complexity of the whole process held back my participation in photography for most of my adult life. Now, in retirement, with a nice mid-priced ultrazoom camera and PhotoShop Elements, I work on my pictures nearly every day and have been lucky enough to win a few nice prizes at local fairs.
But to the question at hand, how much do I edit in my photos? the question has at least two, and probably more, answers.
First and most obvious, I change what needs to be changed, and no more. If I take a picture, and it is flawed (as usual) and I know or can figure out how to fix it, I do. And if I think it's OK, I let it be. Actually, two of the top prizes I've won were with images I didn't edit at all, except for a little cropping or the like. Another prize-winner was heavily edited, after I made a mistake getting it ready to print, and the error led to something new for me.
Second, I've long had an interest in the relationships between order and disorder or pattern and randomness in art and in the real world. An early introduction to the art of the European Rennaisance started it, followed by a still-early exposure to modern artists such as Picasso, Dali, and (especially) Pollock, headed me in his direction, as did a college class in statistics which introduced me to the ideas of randomness, especially as defined by the mathematician Gauss. I studied and thought about these ideas for decades before getting into digital photography. I have on my computer a folder named WSWSW, for Wind, Sand, Weather, Stone, Water -- in no particular order. As I write, I have a print on my desk of a photo I've named "Bark". It is a photo of a chunk of the trunk of a beautiful tropical tree whose name I do not know. I rotated the photo and cropped it to the size I wanted. Then I edited it to emphasize a few colors, and add a few new ones. What results is a possibly fair abstract expressionist painting with colors that might have been inspired by Monet.
It's going to the local fair here in Clark County WA, and we'll see what the judges say -- not that I have tremendous faith in their taste -- but we'll see. So for this retired Silicon Valley tech writer, digital photography represents a whole new world of aesthetic opportunity, good or bad.