I have heard people rebuke digital photography and digital post production, claiming that modern technology is ruining photography. While yes modern technology allows a much higher level of manipulation than was previously possible this no more ruins photography than post processing techniques ruined the works of master photographers such as Ansel Adams.
Since the conception of photography photographers have been adding their own special touches from how they set up the shot to coming up with creative post processing techniques in the darkroom. Skills that became highly prized and made the difference between just another person with a camera and an inspirational photographer.
Photography is an art form and as an art form not only is it a way to record history it is also an artistic medium which should be explored and used to express the artists interpretations of the scene depicted.
Of course major alterations and manipulations would not be ethical when working with a photograph that's primary purpose is to record history. However, even such images can and should be edited, if needed in post production. Even if a camera is set to automatic the image it captures is not exactly as it is seen in real life. Post production allows the photographer to tweak the image so that it more closely resembles what they were viewing.
Take for example the following photographs:
This first is the original shot
When I came across this scene because of the equipment I had with me I was not able to frame the shot so as to place the focus on the benches exactly as I wanted. In addition to the framing; the color and lighting, although very close to what I actually viewed at the time does not impart the same depth of color and emotion that was evoked in me while viewing the scene.
Here is the edited shot
By cropping the image and adding a low percentage overlay the image now captures not only the scene that was before me but the depth at which I viewed the scene.
For me post production is not only right but is a prized skill that I am continually striving to master.