You're right Toad.
Looking back at what I wrote it does seem like I'm saying the only good images to come out of photoshop are those that look like they could have come straight out of a camera. This is not what I meant.
I *should* have qualified my statement by saying something like "with most of the photos *I* work on these days and the images that I strive to achieve, photoshop is a great tool but an obvious photoshopped effect is usually not what I'm after".
I have no problem with anyone who decides to depart from a photorealistic image or who uses photoshop for more than simple touching up (and I have done my fair share of this). It is a powerful tool that has many uses.
But I will say that it is easy to get carried away with the novelty factor of many of the filters and effects, and usually people will tend to err on the side of heavy-handedness rather than subtlety.
Using your example of an impressionist painting, it takes a certain amount of skill, thought, and attention to paint a successful impressionist painting, and by its very nature it is a more emotional representation of the scene than a photorealistic one. But it takes about 3 mouse-clicks and no thought for anyone to turn a normal photo into a photoshopped impressionist lookalike, which although visually similar, has clearly no emotional interpretation driving the process. Does that make everyone with photoshop a Monet or Cezanne? Of course not.
I'm not trying to have a go at you at all here, and I'm also not saying the photoshopped impressionist image is of no value, just that it is easy to abuse the "power" of photoshop... and skilled photoshop users, like skilled painters, are not as common as we'd all like them to be. With photoshop, it is the judicious use of these filters and the subtleties and combinations of the effects that make all the difference into the image, otherwise it is the photoshop programmers who create the images, not the user.
Photoshop is the tool, not the solution!