I've been in an argument with myself for quite some time now regarding manipulation of photos in the digital darkroom.
Most of the time I don't do much to my photographs other than hitting the "saturation" button a bit or cropping out that God-awful "white" sky. Or maybe I'll add a touch of green to a brown meadow. That sort of thing, nothing major.
But sometimes I get in a mood to "play" with some of the special effects that I can experiment with in the darkroom. I like some of the effects I get. But I feel like I'm "cheating", I can't quite call it "art" but still I like these effects.
My father was a marine/landscape artist and would spend days on a watercolor. I can take a photo in a second (or less) with my camera, spend 2-3 minutes playing around in the darkroom and come up with an image I like. I tend to think my Dad was the real artist. As for me? I have a knack for composition and color perhaps - but I don't feel in my guts that I'm an artist.
I guess it doesn't matter. I enjoy dabbling in the dark room and like some of the results. Maybe you will too.