The ethics of digital photo manipulation is more important because the abuses are all the more rampant, whether it's making Sarkozy look as good as Obama does on vacation (as Paris Match did when it airbrushed Sarko's love handles until they disappeared) or Prada smoothing the skin of models' legs so they appear plastic or waxen in ads, like a mannequin's. One could argue that the same should be the case for fashion photographs: No alternation beyond cropping, sharpening and a few basic saturation and contrast adjustments.
How can we believe anything we see anymore? With today's technology, we can literally do anything we want with images. In the example see above, we have changed the red color of M8, the Lagoon Nebula, whose main spectral emission lies in the red portion of the spectrum, to blue with a simple adjustment in Photoshop. When photography was first invented, its overwhelming power came from the fact that it recorded nature more realistically than any other art form had ever done before. Because of this, people trusted it and believed it portrayed "reality" and "truth". But, just as story telling could portray the "truth" with an accurate accounting of the facts, it could just as easily become fiction. Fake and manipulated photographs - visual fiction - began circulating not long after the invention of photography. With the invention of motion pictures, and certainly television, the public came to know that not every picture they saw was necessarily factual in its depiction of reality.
Ethics are a set of rules that we invent that define what we think is good and bad. The dictionary says ethics are "a set of moral principles or values" and that ethical means "conforming to accepted professional standards of conduct".
Aesthetics, on the other hand, deal with the nature of beauty, art and taste, and things that are pleasing in appearance.
With digital processing, there is almost no limit to what can be done to an image, and many things are...
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