(I seem to remember you from Usenet rec.photo.equipment.35mm days gone by?)
We all form our own working definitions of what photography, or anything else, is. I choose to define it more narrowly in such a way as to include the physical, tangible parts of the process that have been there since the beginning. I do this because for me the very legitimacy of the image - its provenance - springs directly from its physical existence at the moment the original exposure was realized.
Magnetic spots, representing discreet virtualized light levels, arbitrarily arranged on the platters of a hard disk or other medium, do not for me convey the same sense of legitimacy - or wonderment - as an original glass plate or film negative simply held up to the light and looked at.
As well, and perhaps because I have myself spent too many years virtualizing too much reality in the first place, the thought of loading an image abstraction into a computer, then clicking a mouse on some icon and allowing some nameless software engineer's algorithm perform some logical transform on the data bits, printing out the result with another mouse click, then showing the world what *I* just created, simply does not resonate with me.
I've mentioned before that my brother and I discovered over 700 35mm black-and-white negatives made by our late father in the mid-to-late 1950s. I have test printed a few to take stock. As we all do, before starting I hold each one up to the light for a quick guess as to starting contrast, exposure, cropping, etc.
But before continuing, I never fail to pause for a moment and reflect on what I am actually holding and the scene it depicts. That exact negative was in my father's hands 55 years ago. He loaded it into his beloved Kodak Retina Ia, now sitting on the shelf right in front of me, and pointed it at... let's see here... what?
Hey... wait a minute. That's me in the negative! Geez, there I am somewhere on vacation in Wyoming when I was only three or four years old. Out in the snow. And this very negative that I am holding, all those years ago was in that camera, stopped along that road while he made this photo of me and my mother.
That level of photographic legitimacy means everything to some of us. And it cannot be found in the virtualized imaging technology in use by most people today.
One does not need to draw a line at the physical and tangible threshold to define photography. At least for themselves. But for those of us who feel the need to do it, there is likewise no reason not to...