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How Much Technology Is too Much?

By May 31, 2023No Comments
Sunrise at Blackwater National Wildlife Reserve, eastern Chesapeake Bay area, MD. Definitely Non-AI. © Jerry Ginsberg

Sunrise at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, eastern Chesapeake Bay area, Maryland. Definitely Non-AI. © Jerry Ginsberg

By Jerry Ginsberg

With the latest wave of software releases, AI has become a big buzzword. While several third-party providers have been wading into the AI waters for a while, some new and imminent additions from Adobe are sure to set the standards. After last year’s introduction of the new masking tools in Lightroom and Camera Raw created a loud buzz, the addition of Noise Reduction AI has kept the momentum going. Not to be outdone, tried and true Photoshop with its new Removal Tool and prospective Generative Fill, now in Beta, seems likely to retake the lead.

Editor’s note: You’ve probably heard of ChatGPT, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion or other artificial intelligence programs, some of which can create works that resemble paintings or photographs. Now Adobe has released a Beta version of generative AI. All this is causing a furor within the creative community and among copyright experts. Jerry Ginsberg, a frequent contributor on national parks, and recipient of NANPA’s 2023 President’s Award, weighs in with some thoughts.

Wither goest thou, Adobe?

When Adobe introduced its highly vaunted Content Aware technology about a decade ago, it soon became both useful and popular. Their current foray into AI, dubbed Sensei, seems sure to expand into more than merely removing STOP signs and trash cans.

Where will it go? Into tonality and color? We pretty much already have that with the various Auto controls and presets. Could it soon begin to fabricate images that did not exist in reality? That is certainly not beyond imagination. Ansel, Monet and Rembrandt – Move over! Your human imagination and creativity are about to be eclipsed by an emotionless machine. Hey, it’s no longer that far-fetched.

Dektol dinosaurs

For those of you whose fingers never bore the stubborn odors of Dektol and Microdol-X (Readers under 40; those were chemical developers in the wet darkroom back in the days of film.), I get it. Technology keeps marching on and to be left behind is to be a dinosaur. But is every tweak and development really a good thing? Or can automation and machine learning detract from human creativity? Will the long predicted “rise of the machines” relegate us humans to the status of drones? That is a wider debate than can be posted here.

Which way do we go? While that largely remains to be seen, suffice it to say that I have no plans to buy a self-driving car. Given my druthers, I prefer a good solid quarter horse.

Something old, something new, something borrowed …

On a parallel track, consider this: Not long ago, Adobe introduced Sky Replacement. A great idea. But at the same time, they began to provide a library of skies to be used by all subscribers. When using such a canned element in your image, is it still your image? I would argue that it is not. Now I regularly use Sky Replacement, but only with skies that I have photographed. In my view that equals making a composite of my own photographs, but to use those from Adobe’s collection is to put your name on what is no longer your work.

Unanswered questions

Is disclosure of this action enough? Should you claim credit for an image with an Adobe sky? Can you copyright it?

Lots of questions. Fewer answers.

At least those that we can call definitive.

Jerry Ginsberg is a multi-award winning and widely published photographer whose landscape, Nature and travel images have graced the covers and pages of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s 63 National Parks with medium format cameras.

Jerry has been awarded Artist Residencies in several National Parks across America and has appeared on ABC TV discussing our national parks. His works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards. Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America along with large chunks of Europe and the mid-East.

More of Ginsberg’s images are on display at