I have of late been looking at the prospect of replacing my ageing Lightroom. Adverse, as I am to paying the Adobe conglomerate a monthly hostage or blackmail fee, I was hoping to find a reasonable standalone option. Not that I want flashy sliders and zillions of use/ful/less presets. No, my requirement are simple. Good image management, and the excellent keyword search facilities. Truth be told, I think Abobe still are the only ones in the ball park.
But I was amused to look at some of the offerings. Catchy marketing phrases, “Make the most of your photos.”
“Reveal the hidden photo within”. “Photos that will look their ABSOLUTE best”. “Match your artistic inspiration”.
I worry about ‘finding the hidden photo’, as in I’ll put up an image I’d have deleted anyway, and a few tweaks with the ‘inspired’ AI software, and dah dah! Oh, what a great image, I didn’t know I was THAT good a photographer. Where has the image been all my life.
Yet not one of them has the simple ability to find the Keyworded “Black-shoudered Kite, WTP 600mm f.8, D810”, or what ever. With just on 100+k images, I’m not likely to rekeyword to match a program that can’t read standard IPTC data sets.
But what got me thinking was the ability to now discover previously overlooked photos that somehow match my artistic inspiration.
As a young photo-assistant, my mentor talked of three images. The one we saw, the one we photographed, and the one we printed and distributed to the customer. Now it seems we can add a fourth, the one we never saw coming.
Which I suppose means I can mindlessly point the camera out the window, run the file through some AI (artificial intelligence, in case you’ve not been keeping up), and lo, there it is in all its glory. No longer is digital development or enhancement a craft in the service of my vision. It has become my vision.
It’s like a singer with no vocal training, no voice development and no concept of fine breathing picking up an AI microphone and revealing the hidden talent within to sound like Pavarotti.
There is, so say the ancient sages, a little bit of Yang in Yin, and a little bit of Yin in Yang. I’m often grateful that I came to photography at the height of black and white. The power that comes from working to get the best angle, the right shape, the richest lighting, all necessary to take our 3D world and bring it on to a 2 D medium, print/book/screen.
Push the Yang, and we get dark moody results. Push the Yin, and light and bright shines forth.
I found this Little Raven on a local tv antenna. It was preening, and talking to its family stationed on other close perching spots. At some point, just as I pressed the shutter, it decided to turn and talk to its close neighbour.
What astounds me is the bird’s ability to turn its head in the direction it’s going to move, then lift off and with total confidence turn its body to match the direction and plant its feet back on the perch. Poetry in motion.
The yin of the eye makes its statement within the yang of the bird. The yin of the cloudy sky is balanced by its little bit of dark antenna.
The freedom of the bird is contrasted by the fixedness of the aerial.
The confidence of the bird is balanced against the rigidness of the tubes.
The cleverness of the bird making use of the available is contrasted against the metal structure built for just one purpose.
I’d love to see AI find all that.