With regard to your opinion and the comparison to analog that is how I see it also. Once we left the world of the darkroom IMO we entered a new world where the concept of what a “pure” photo is changed forever. Lr or Ps have some tools which can duplicate those we would have found in the darkroom. AI though as we find it in Luminar and various other programs depends on outside algorithms as I understand this and take the work and decision-making out of the hands of the maker. The maker can of course choose to use only parts of those algorithms which does put more control back into their hands, but is it still the same thing? Not sure ………..
Programs such as Topaz go another step and create what I see as an overlayer that takes the work further into a new world and away from the photo that was originally conceived. That is not a “wrong” thing to my mind or “bad” as some might perceive it, it is just a different direction. To my mind, all works when viewed with an objective mind need to be evaluated according to the skills and knowledge presented in their presentation. In other words, have they been done well and do they show the necessary skills in the art form they purport to represent? In a photo that possibly means focus, lighting, etc. “Impact” or “Wow” which are popular terms currently used are determined on those and other merits and not some magical component that can’t be explained. MHO anyway.
So, if my perception is that anything that is not straight from the camera is somehow inferior I have been influenced as to how I see that work. For me, it simply makes more sense to accept that work as a different art form that while having originated from a photo is no longer a photo and to accept it for what it is, a new form of art. Whether it is well done or not is another matter.
So, as a “camera” club where does, that take us? I don’t see a need for any formal recognition but for me personally, there is a further mental categorizing of how I view what I do and what I see. Photos, for me, are anything that most closely resembles what I would have expected to come out of a dark room. Photos that have been processed more severely in regard to light and shadows etc. still fall under this category to me. All the other hundreds of program cameras and phones that take the process further out of the hands of the maker, for me, have moved into another category which I view as manipulated photos. They are no less worthwhile, but how I view them has changed. How well they have been accomplished and the skills of the maker are the thing that matter most to me. Do I have a preference? Not really, I view them as two separate art forms and judge them each differently. Does any of this matter? Maybe not, but to me, it just furthers my understanding of both what I am looking at and how I as a person perceive what I look at which I feel will help me be more observant and hopefully a better artist.
Thank you for your thoughts, Steve. By hearing others’ thoughts I am challenged to better form my own.