Faith Based Reaction………

9 months ago 13
Posted in: blog


Recently a new Beta Version of Lightroom was introduced that had an amazing AI based tool for changing backgrounds, it was earth shaking, what it could do.  I watched carefully as the reactions rolled in, and as you would expect they were all over the place.  “This is the most amazing and most positive thing to ever happen to photography!”  ” This is the end of photography, we will never ever again be able to trust anything we see!”  They were probably both right!


I have thought long and hard about this and I have a suggestion I would like to throw out to all my fellow photographers.  First, if you are a professing Christian, if you claim to answer to your God and wish to serve Him in everything you say and do, this advice is or you!  


Let me set this  up properly.  I started photography in 1969, yep that was a long time ago.  In that era of photography we shot film, and mostly Black & White film and slide film, transparency film.  Learning how to get correct exposure in those days was a process and it did not come easy, we struggled with it and it took time and shooting a lot of film to get it right!  We were quite proud of ourselves when we got it right!  That accounts for why so many of us in our seventies today may have more than a little chip on our shoulders about how much easier it has gotten with digital photography today.  Yes, in many way we are stuck in the mud of the film era!


As post processing has advanced and many magical things can be done to images, we have resisted and drug our feet in the sand!  Now let me share about why as a Christian, I have to look at this and approach it in a different way.  As a believer my greatest concern must be with sin and being kind to others.  First of all, even though I have resisted, replacing a sky in a photograph is not a sin!  It’ s a choice, it may not be a choice I am comfortable with, but for someone who is comfortable with it, they have not sinned!  So Let’s say my friend Paul made the image at the top of this entry, and I see it and I know he has replaced the sky, (actually I did it!),  as a Christian, how should I react too his image?  First of all I should not “react” at all, if I like the photograph I should say so, if I don’t I should not feel compelled to be unkind.  If I think he should not have replaced the sky what right do I have to be critical of him?  As the photographer and artist he has every right to process his images as he wishes, frankly it’s none of my business!  I found myself in the situation when I replaced the sky in this image  I felt guilty about it and did not show it for the longest time.



This is the original image.  I love the lighthouse and love the back lit and furrowing flag, but the sky is awful, so the image failed, I think you will admit the image with a  replaced sky is much nicer, but is it reality?  So what is wrong with adding a sky?  It is not what was actually there at that time!  Coming from my background as a photojournalist, doing something like that is a cardinal sin, but if I was a commercial photo illustrator, that kind of stuff is done all the time.  You might say that it is only wrong if the intent of the images was to depict reality.  As a Christian when is it the right thing to do, to make someone feel bad about the post processing images they make?  Never, you can express your opinion if done in a considerate way, but beyond that it’s the choice of the photographer.


let’s take the concept of appropriate ways of dealing with others as a Christian to some other examples!


Say our friend Larry is a Georgia Bulldogs fan, you’re a Alabama fan, can you say the Bulldogs suck, I hope they loose every game!  Sure, if  you want to act that way, but as a Christian what does that accomplish?  It sure doesn’t cement your witness for Christ!


Your friend Mike only listens to classical music, but you like 50’s -60’s Rock n’ Roll, he says the music you like is horrible, in fact it’s not really music at all!  It’s fine for him to feel tat way but what good does it do to make that pronouncement to you?



The photograph above was shot in the UP of Michigan on a calm morning while we were shooting fall color reflecting in the still water as boat started up toward us, my first thought was it would disturb the water, which it did, but then I realized it might be a great shot as it turned to go back out of the slough we were shooting in.  This was an unplanned circumstance that turned out to be kind of neat, and the water settled back down in a few minutes and we were able to continue shooting the reflections.  As photographers we need to roll with the punches!  Those that want  to use these new creative tools to “enhance their mages” should be left alone and allowed to do photography as they see fit, and those of us that might would rather not, should learn to be a little less judgmental about it.


Here is  my bottom line;  When I gave my life to Christ He required of me to lead others to Him,  I can’t do that if I am judging everyone else for things they may do, that I don’t want to do or agree with, how welcoming and loving is that?  I can still feel strongly about such things, I just can’t beat people up from my position.


I would love to know what you think!





the pilgrim

13 Responses

  1. James+Haverstock says:

    Thank you. All of life is to be approached from the perspective you described so well above. We belong to Him, and we should act like it.

  2. Bill+Fortney says:

    How can we do any less!?

  3. Rodney McKnight says:

    I agree Bill. Paul gives us this advice in Romans 14. As for the photography perspective, I enjoy looking at any photograph that brings me joy. It is art to me and not photojournalism {although I do appreciate, of course, honest accurate photojournalism – we must admire and respect that too). I do whatever I need to do to my photos so that when I hang them in my office or frame them for my walls, I want to walk by them over and over because they bring me joy. I photograph for myself primarily (if not only). But I also have a great admiration for the photographer that lives near that lighthouse and goes back to that site over and over maybe for years to get that shot above. Most of us will only be at that light house one or two times. But with modern technology we can get what we can get at the time and often turn that memory into something we enjoy looking at over and over. But it is always very, very satisfying to have worked hard to be at the right place, at the right time, with the perfect light, and yes, we probably enjoy looking at that photo a lot!

  4. Bill+Fortney says:

    Couldn’t have said it better! I would never hang my original shot, maybe, in time, I’ll warm to my “creation”!

  5. Carl says:

    Well said Bill! Your logic and words are right on.

    Kindness is a virtue of a Christian. It is a virtue that many, if not most, so called Christians do not display on a constant basis today. We have gotten to a place where we have “loose” tongues to go with our “judgmental/biased” thoughts. Jesus said we will be responsible for EVERY word we say. As God has shown each of us Grace, we should show it constantly to others. This old song expresses to me how God responses to us – and consequently how we should respond to others.

    Grace, grace, God’s grace,
    Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
    Grace, grace, God’s grace,
    Grace that is greater than all our [and other’s] sin!

  6. Bill+Fortney says:

    If my decisions are driven by my overwhelming love of God, I will not be able to do anything but magnify him in word and deed! I do not ever want to lend evidence to anyone who wants to demean my faith because of my loose tongue or judgemental attitude. While we are not perfect, we must strive for the perfection Christ delivered to us in our redemption! It’s brothers like you that help me keep my perspective on this long slog through life on this earth, I pray I can stay true till He comes for me! Love you man!

  7. Mark says:

    I agree, Bill. Praise Him! For me, photography is an art, akin to painting or drawing. Our choices of lens perspective, what we think of as Photoshop edits and film types (saturation, dodge/burn, contrast, B&W vs. color, etc.), and exposure/focus blending are all forms of changing “reality,” though maybe not as drastic as replacing a sky or removing an object. Ansel Adams, an icon by almost any standard, did virtually all of these things when developing and printing. The key to me is not misrepresenting or implying such changes as being SOOC or “reality,” particularly in documentary situations. All said, though, my personal goal (and what I find to be most rewarding) is most often to capture God’s beauty in-camera as best I can and minimize edits. This is often so rewarding because I witness the moment and beauty first hand, and putting in the time and patience for such a capture is truly amazing.

  8. Lynn Wines says:

    I’ve always heard “the photographer takes a picture as he or she sees it through their eyes”. Using AI I believe distorts that and takes away from God’s creation. I’m an “old school photographer”.However, I also believe I need to be considerate and respectful of photographers who use AI. I guess I find it difficult to look at an “artificial photo”. Hope you are feeling better!

    • Bill+Fortney says:

      I am from the same school, and I deeply appreciate those that can, with patience, get it right in the camera. I also appreciate those that can craft beautiful created (generated) images. I lean towards reality based photography, but now that the cat is out of the bag, it will be interesting to see how people choose to use it!

  9. Bill+Fortney says:

    I am from the same school, but I am excited to see where this goes. One thing is fir duress, the cats out of the bag, no way to stop this now!

  10. David+W says:

    The questions about the new technologies changing the craft as not limited to just photography. Is a carpenter less of a carpenter less of a carpenter for using a power saw instead of a hand saw? Is a guitar (or other stringed instrument) a lesser instrument because the luthier dared to use a tool that was not two centuries old to make the instrument? Is a person not a ‘real’ fisherman because that used an artificial lure instead of live bait?

    The challenge I see is not the technology but the use of the technology. New technologies can be used and misused. Used appropriately, the we can have a richer experience as artists or as documentarians. It is the use to create a lesser experience and harm others that we must guard against.