My research on retouching and manipulation of photography was an eye-opener. Image manipulation I found, was employed as soon as photography was perfected .
Was it acceptable? Manipulation was accepted, in most cases expected. In the early days, the medium was still limited and what’s true now was true back then, customers desire the best images possible. They want details and colors to stand out. So, what do photographers do? To please potential customers, photographers immediately resorted to manual intervention, enlivening their pictures with powdered pigment, watercolor and oil paint . Which reminds me of my friend who is a professional wedding photographer, she told me that she spends a lot more time processing the photographs than shooting the photos itself. If it was your wedding where you spend thousands just for the photography alone, would you accept raw/unedited photos to commemorate that special moment? Here’s a link to her beautiful website/photographs.
In my opinion, manipulation to enhance the original photograph does not affect the integrity of the photographer. We have seen photograph’s where people would look eerily scary because they have the dreaded red-eye or photos that are either under or over exposed. The application of red-eye reduction or exposure adjustment to correctly represent the original scene is needed. Was it dishonest to use photo enhancing tools/software? It depends on the intent, if the photographs are manipulated to deceive and represent something that is not, then it is dishonest and misleading.
As a content creator, I have a responsibility to produce high quality materials that will represent my vision and style. I also have to be honest and represent my own work and creation, if necessary disclose any processing and manipulation that I may have used.