Photographer or Graphic Artist?
I followed a conversation on another website about photo editing, and one of the participants commented that "...after that much editing, you are no longer a photographer, you are a graphic artist." So how much is too much?
There are photographers that eschew any editing at all, developing and printing the image exctly as it is captured in the emulsion or on the CCD. At the other extreme is the photographer who stages elaborate setups almost like a video shoot, and then heavily edits that image until it bears no resemblance to anything in reality. One viewpoint refuses any editing or manipulation that was not available to us in the traditional "wet" darkroom: burning, dodging, solarization... If it could not be done under an enlarger it is not allowed today. This is too tied to the past for my taste. If I never get D-76 on my hands again it will be too soon.
I fall somewhere in between: every image is evaluated on its own, and calls for a degree of editing that bears little relationship to the image that came before, or the one that comes after. Presets are a starting point, rarely the solution. I have only done one series of images in a "project," and those have not been published; probably never will be.
So I use all the tools that are at my disposal, but nothing to the point that an effect draws attention to itself or away from the image. I am too much of a traditionalist for that. Where are your limits? Where is the line that you will not cross in image manipulation?