For me nature photography is trying to capture(freeze) a (part of a) moment how you would see it, I don't see the need to try and make it 'better' than how it was.
Just keep going there until you make a real picture with those clouds if that is what you like so much, if altering reality (or at least how we perceive it) is something you like, then i would definitely shop some stalking lions in the background to add some drama! , sorry for the poor remark.
nature is artistic enough for itself, rather than craving for more I try to be happy with what it has provided.
I had a picture of a fish eagle landing on a branch, but right behind it there was a car, I would love to see the car removed , and i started doing it.... but in the process i thought why shall i fool myself?, better find a landing fish eagle without a car in the background. If i could have cropped it out i would have , but that is easier to justify for myself as i would say well: This is the shot i would have gotten with a 600mm:P
But to each his own? or how you would say it , if it makes you happy that the trees are gone and there are some nice clouds there, then why not?
If nature doesn't provide the shot that you like, then fabricating it might be good.
I agree. I did not get it perfect while trying my very best and enhanced it later.
Btw if I were you, depending upon the size of the car, I would not hesitate to clone it out. My logic: The car was there just that split second and could not have been there.
However, I do bow down to your honesty to your principles.