Maple Leaf in a Stream - 50mm image

About AI
Some friends and I were discussing AI in photography this past week, and it led me to think about my favourite photographer – distant cousin Ansel Adams.
Adams achieved much of his fame by using a “normal” lens – which in today’s term would be a 50mm lens on a full frame camera. He would shoot almost completely stopped down to f16 or higher and liked to shoot with long exposure times to get the finest detail. Where the AI discussion comes in is what happens after the shot.
In Adam’s day, manipulating a negative to a print meant perhaps some dodging and burning or otherwise adjusting the time the paper was exposed to the light projector which exposed the paper and made the print. I’ve done lots of wet darkroom work and know the process intimately, and while the work does indeed adjust the light and dark areas of a photo, it cannot add or subtract anything from the actual image as taken.
Using programs like Photoshop, we can now do the same things on our computers, but AI takes it a step further. AI can actually either introduce elements that weren’t there or subtract things that were. In news reporting, that is a big no-no, and it would also be a disqualification in things like wildlife photo contests. If one is producing fine art prints, of course, there are no boundaries on creativity, and so AI could be used to create imaginative scenes that don’t or didn’t exist, or that are recorded differently than when the photographer took the frame.
To me, AI could be a wonderful tool if it is used to help adjust an image, but as an Adams disciple, I think of myself as a pictorialist as well – and I strive to show things to people as they are, perhaps in a way they haven’t seen before. To do this I do a lot of photography at 50 mm (or “normal eye’s view”) and follow Adams lead with tight apertures and longer exposures.
I’ll be doing more of this very soon, and next week will explain why…stay tuned for the excitement!