So here's another picture for your perusal. This cute little fella is from my wife's family and about the happiest most easy going baby I've ever been around. He went happily from person to person, put on a cuteness show and never got bent out of shape. In fact, over the course of about three days, I never once heard him go into a full throated bawl. He was also ludicrously photogenic. I have literally dozens of pictures of him ranging from ultra cute to merely very cute.
I do admit to using a lot of post processing on my photos. Not Photoshop work mind you, just tweaks in Lightroom. This one I didn't play with very much at all. Saturation was brought up a bit, not to emphasize his eyes but because I shoot very flat to preserve as much detail in the darks and highlights as possible. Some sharpening was done as well, for the same reason.
The biggest change was that I cropped the photo. My wife was originally in the shot, holding the baby. But she was at an awkward, unflattering angle to the camera, so I cropped to focus the shot on the baby, which is what I wanted anyway. I was shooting with a prime lens, so zooming in wasn't an option, or I would have cropped her out with the lens when I took the shot. And since we were in adirondack chairs, side by side, moving closer wasn't an option either.
I mention all this because people often view post processing as cheating somehow. I disagree most of the time. In this photo, I'm not cheating anything. I made specific choices when taking the shot, knowing full well what the process would be for the RAW image once it hit my computer. That's generally how I work. Occasionally I use heavier processing because I want to achieve a specific look that wasn't possible in camera without a lot of equipment that I don't own. Again, not a cheat, just another way to get to the goal. Sometimes use post processing to correct problems with a shot, like skewed angles, poor light or bad framing. That's a cheat. That's me hiding my mistakes. And I do it because I'm a perfectionist and can't stand to show my mistakes. But I know I made them and that's in my head the next time I shoot, which helps me learn. So there's still an upside.
Now, actually changing a photo radically using Photoshop to fundamentally alter the original image can be a huge cheat. Or a stylistic choice. Or something you planned all along. For instance, say you wanted a motorcycle rider with a flaming skull for a head. Models that fit that description are a bit hard to locate, some digital trickery is going to be needed. And is a ham fisted segue to the trailer for the new Ghost Rider movie. I wasn't at all looking forward to it but the trailer sold me on the movie. And that was before Nic Cage peed fire.
I only want one post a day, so I'm inappropriately putting these things together. Why? Because I can.