Photography versus Computer-Generated Imagery or CGI

by Editor David Williams

So, this is a taboo subject.
I am sure many of you have already made up your mind by the title of this article. 
Indeed, it is a very touchy subject nevertheless a subject that needs addressing.

Allow me to start by saying I am not a purist.  I use a DSLR as well as Photoshop and Lightroom for making my images better. But in my opinion, there is a line that separates Photography and, well.... Digital Art shall we say.

Many, if not most people use a computer for processing their images and there is nothing wrong with that as it is the modern darkroom, hence the name Lightroom.

There are darkroom techniques that are still used today in Photoshop and Lightroom.
These include:
- Dodge and burn
- Masking

I mainly use these techniques for my work plus sharpening.

Digital art
There are images that are pure CGI and they aren’t hiding the fact. There are some stunning CGI images on but we need to remember that they are CGI.

Unfortunately, there are also images that are half and half and passed off as photography. This is what I really want to address. Sure, these images have their place but let’s not pretend they are real images. Own up to the fact they aren’t 100% real.

Personally, I see some “images” and I get angry, yes, I do, and I bite my tongue and I am guilty of that. I need to open my mind more and accept that technology is getting better every day and CGI images are here to stay. Am I asking you to do the same? No, but I think we must accept it like it or not.

The separation
So what separates real photography from CGI??
Call me corny but real photography has a certain charm, a romantic feel to it. You can never beat the feeling of walking around and seeing something that captures your eye and imagination. Or physically setting up at a location with lights, flash, backdrops etc.

I am an animal photographer primarily also I am a sports photographer. I see action, I anticipate it and I learn the sport to be able to capture the special moments. I see animals at zoos and I capture their feelings, their anxiety.
I travel long distances, I wait for hours in extreme weather conditions to get “the shot” this is photography to me and many others.

Adventure, excitement and being able to look at an image and remember what I went through to capture it. A hopeless romantic? Maybe, but for me it’s better than sitting in front of a computer for hours to make something that has no soul.

Closing words
CGI is here to stay, technology will only get better and we can’t fight it. We must be true to ourselves and take photos for ourselves, not to please others.

Enjoy the adventure and be proud of your original work.

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