I ran across a wonderful little video about Hany Farid, a Dartmouth professor who is doing research on how to algorithms for detecting altered photos. Hany is working with Adobe to make his algorithms for fake photo detection widely available.
It's amazing to me how much photo modification is goes on in advertising but even more amazing that most of the population is oblivious to the fact that you cannot trust a photograph to be an accurate record of reality. Daily examples of modified photos are posted and analyzed at PhotoshopDisasters.com. I find this site a great source of entertainment.
At various times over the last 3 years I've done posts on photo modification ethics for real estate photographs. I have a page that summarizes previous posts and discussions on this subject and after watching the above video I reactivated the page so it has a link along the top of the blog header image. It's called "ethics" to save space.
Everyone seems to agree that material, physical characteristics that buyers care about (like removing telephone poles, power lines etc.) should not be modified. But disagreement usually arises over issues like should the grass or landscaping be modified. I have no problem removing cars from the driveway or "making the bed" or "moving furniture" but when Levi wants me to "fix the grass" and make it look lush and green rather than brown and ratty I always push back but I don't always win this argument. Others seem to have trouble deciding if it's OK to fake the grass grass too. Grass seems to be on the fuzzy border line. I'd much rather not fake anything but it's hard to agree on that hard line of where to stop making a shot look perfect.