Something In Common

All of the photographs this week have something in common. Can you see what it is?

Lightning over a field in Prestatyn

Photo editing is changing. More and more companies who produce photography software are turning to Artificial Intelligence to make editing photographs a far simpler and quicker process.

Time is of the essence, particularly if we’re sending images out on social media. The reality is that the majority of images are only viewed for a few seconds, often on a phone or computer. There are so many images freely available that it takes a lot of will power to concentrate and prolong the gaze on one picture at the expense of the thousands of others waiting to be viewed!

Michael Kenna
Milky Way over tomb at Aswan, Egypt

So where has AI crept in. In 2016, Adobe launched Sensei which brought AI to some of their applications and since then they have slowly being adding more AI features to their software.

It’s that time of the year when all the software houses announce updates to products coming later this year. You are not going to get a free upgrade and despite the fact that they say you own a product for life, they will add new features that many photographers will say is a must have. And so despite being critical of Adobe’s subscription service, where you know you are going to be paying monthly for the use of products like Lightroom and Photoshop, many will buy the new updated software every year. In a way it’s just another subscription service.

ON1 have announced that they will shortly be releasing an application called Portrait AI which will allow you to process an entire shoot from a wedding based on your preferences. Using machine learning the AI will find faces in the photographs, identify the age and gender, then process facial features like skin, eyes and mouth.

Though the computer can correct anything, a bad image is a bad image.

Charles Traub
Milky Way over Dinorwic Quarry

Likewise Skylum have announced Luminar AI, the first image editor fully powered by artificial intelligence.

The Pump House for Parys Mountain coppermine

Common tasks in photo editing software like exposure, highlights & shadows, contrast, lighting can be time consuming. Although with a few good presets in Lightroom I have made this a more or less one-click option. Skylum reckon that you will be able to replace the sky in seconds, always time consuming in Photoshop, even change the weather. And for portraits, well you’ll be able to get that perfect face and body. It’s all about the result, not the process.

Sitting over a hot computer ain’t my idea of fun. My creativity goes almost completely into picture taking. (But) I suppose if I ever retired, I would enjoy learning the Photoshop craft far more than playing golf.

Herbert Keppler
The Roman Amphitheatre at Arles, France

Have you worked out yet, what’s common about these photographs. No! Maybe the image below will help

Lightning in Prestatyn

Still not there yet. Well here’s the answer. They have all been processed in some way using Artificial Intelligence. Don’t get me wrong. I took the photographs, but in every case the sky or the light was boring, so I changed it.

Winding House in Dinorwic Quarry

In every case I changed the sky and here’s my reasons why.

  1. Lightning over a field in Prestatyn it was sunset but no clouds to make it interesting
  2. Lightning in Prestatyn same as above
  3. Milky Way over tomb at Aswan, Egypt clear blue sky, harsh sunlight, middle of the day, totally boring
  4. Milky Way over Dinorwic Quarry flat grey sky, hint of rain but the abandoned building was interesting
  5. The Pump House for Parys Mountain coppermine harsh sunlight, blue sky
  6. The Roman Amphitheatre at Arles, France grey sky, light totally flat
  7. Winding House in Dinorwic Quarry the exact same reason as the other Dinorwic quarry image.

Is it ethical, to change an image in this way. Well the way I look at it, yes. I’m not a photo journalist, I no longer sell my photographs and and as long as I say that I have altered the image I’m not trying to pretend that something ain’t what it is.

We had this belief about photography, but that’s about to disappear because of the computer. I actually welcome this development; I’d like to think that more overt recognition and discussion of the manipulation which has always been inherent in photographic representation is healthy.

Esther Parada – Writing in 1993 about her work with digital photographs.

Disclaimer. I’m not connected in any way to Adobe, ON1 or Skylum other than to use their software which I paid for myself. I only used them as examples of how AI is creeping into photography software because I have a personal knowledge of their existing products which use AI

As always, stay safe – Mike


7 replies to “Something In Common

  1. I think as long as you’re up front about it it’s great – you could really have fun being creative with this. I’m not a purist. I often make alterations to the background that prevent the main subject from shining. I doubt I’ll ever go as far as these examples you’ve shown, but I think the only real issue is honesty.
    Also I love what you’ve done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Alison. This post was prompted by by the fact that I have seen a few photographs recently on Instagram where the sky has been changed for something else that I know it’s just not possible. Specifically, the Milky Way behind a lighthouse in a quadrant of the sky where it will never be and at a time that it couldn’t have occurred anyway.

      All of the photo’s in this post had the sky replaced within seconds using Luminar 4 from Skylum, then some colour matching, a bit of light adjusting and job done, ready for instagram, if that’s your thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I concluded it had something to do with the sky since the sky, in my little opinion, seemed to be the predominant feature of each photograph. I like the first scene with the recently shorn hay field and the huge round bales of hay with a rain storm approaching. The scene has a bit off drama with an approaching rain storm. The hay bales are still in the field and have not been moved to either be stacked or stored. I don’t know about Wales but in Texas those large round bales are quite often left in the field where they are subjected to the elements until fed to cattle or horses. Some folks store the round bales but the barns need to be huge and very tall in order to accommodate a sizable amount of hay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Generally in Wales they are stored somewhere, Yvonne. In some cases farmers with enough land and no animals grow hay for selling on. Many of the fields around me, I live on the edge of town, it’s corn they grow, year after year. Not for human consumption but to be used as animal fodder through the winter time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I guess the moment when one manipulates a lot in a photo, it becomes more of an art. In my opinion, from a common understanding, photography is capturing the real scene. Oversaturated and manipulated sky colors that don’t convey the real scene would classify as art. Of course, it is possible that in a couple of years, the definition of photography might change. Already, AI technology in phones like Huawei P30 and P40 is a reality although one can turn it off.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would agree, Arv. However Ansell Adams never ever showed you the photograph he actually took with his camera. He spent days afterwards in the darkroom dodging and burning the photographs to enhance the light and make his photographs very often dark and moody.

    Even todays photographers, and I’m talking about the well known ones here, will very rarely show you something straight out of their camera. They will manipulate it in Lightroom or Photoshop to do things very similar to Ansell Adams.



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