Ah, technology. It’s ever evolving complexity is what allows photography to advance with ever more incredible image sensors, detail capture, lens design, and editing processes. Images that were once extremely difficult to capture and share are now shareable with a simple button on a smartphone. However, has the technology started to go too far?
How many times have you logged on to social media, watched another YouTube video, or gone on some forum just to hear someone sharing yet another iconic view from the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Yosemite, etc with a dramatic yellow and red sky that looks like it’s from another planet overhead? Or, now that it’s fall, the same photo of a single cabin in the mountains with such perfect smoke from the chimney forming a fog could around the A-frame?
These can all be great (and real!) photos, sure, but what really are the chances that these are all single images of a real time and occurrence? Unlikely. With these types of heavily edited “images” and constantly pushed cliche locations reaching ever climbing heights of popularity, the online algorithms end up pushing them more and more.
What’s most insidious, however, is the rise of the AI and sky replacement editing tools. Now, it’s no longer “required” to be in the right location at the right time with the right conditions to get an excellent photo. Rather, someone can show up at a popular location, take a generic snapshot, and use technology to create an “image” for the social media clout.
Check out the two takes on this topic below, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Spoiler alert: The sky in every photo I share has NOT been replaced! I am highly against these technological tools. I believe photography is an art form, and digital art is a separate category.
What are your thoughts? Is it ever acceptable to swap the sky in an image? How about using AI to change the light? I know I prefer to share reality so that the viewer can see what I saw at that moment.
Happy trails, and go make great photos that are genuine and unique to your style!