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I hesitated and almost posted this image without the effect, but it just wasn't the image I was happy with, so I changed it to this version. I realize that images like this are automatically discounted by many purists, but I find - as you have stated - if it is done well, it can really make an entirely new statement. It is definitely a fine balance between being effective and being a distraction. And I would guess that on an image like this, it would be easy to find opinions on either side. But at the end of the day, it's my image and this is how I felt to create it.