If you shoot birds in flight, you’ve probably been frustrated by trying to get the exposure right. Either the bird is blown out, or, more often, the background sky looks perfect, but the bird is just a dark silhouette. Been there, done that, hit the “delete” button. If you expose the bird perfectly (yay!) the sky is probably too light (boo!).
Here’s the finished product:
I will admit that using photoshop too much can be thought of as turning a photo into art. The same can be said about using polarizers and colored filters - techniques used by photographers for decades. The same can be said about techniques old-timers used in the darkroom such as dodging and burning to give mist around moving water or even (gasp) trying to save a photo like the one I started with.
In this case, I didn't add or delete a single element of the photo. I was simply VERY selective about which components I darkened (which is what a "Multiply" layer does). I didn't even change the contrast, color or saturation. If someone said that they simply darkened a photo, most people would just shrug their shoulders and say, "So what?"
Decide for yourself what you want to do. There may be a gray line (or even a black line) between what you consider art and photography, but you can always fix that with Photoshop ;-)
Steve Byland is a wildlife photographer living in suburban New Jersey. His photos can be seen at www.stevebyland.com . You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org