"Use filters and plug-ins!" "Don't use filters or plug-ins!" It seems everyone in the photography industry has an opinion (or opinions) on this. Many teaching professionals, those with some standing and reputation, appear divided on the issue. A lively discussion over on David duChemin's blog got me thinking about this.
My simple take on it is this: The various characters in the industry refer to software, filters, and plug-ins as if they are separate things. They are all software programs, but they do different things in different ways. So what?! That one is connected to another as a "plug-in" software to a main image editing program, or is incorporated in an imaging program under the designation of a "filter", doesn't matter at all. It is all a software adjustment of image pixels to achieve a desired goal, a look.
Call it what you will, but there are really no evil filters, or evil plug-ins that are less than the imaging software they accompany.
I don't know of a credible pro photographer that would advocate not processing a RAW file as a way of preserving a photographs integrity. In photography's long/short history, many techniques, filters, chemical processes, and film types have been used (and abused) to achieve different results from creative image makers. So why all the outcry over the use of digital versions of the same thing?
All tools have been and will continue to be used and abused by those who wield them. The very best images will stand on their own, regardless of which tools are used, simply because they are great images. Enhanced to the best possible state according to the artist's vision, we may do well to remember we are simply adjusting 1's and 0's...