I’ve wanted to explore the Black Canyon (the canyon that snakes for a few dozen miles south of present-day Hoover Dam) forever. The problem is that it’s only accessible by boat. So last summer I just decided I knew how to pilot a boat and rented one and went up the river. Turns out that piloting a boat is pretty easy (in these circumstances).
The Black Canyon is another really iconic place in terms of 19th Century “frontier” photography, but one that’s far less photographed nowadays than some of the other places (because you need a boat to get there). I have to confess that the trip to make this photograph wasn’t fun at all. I made the mistake of going in the summer, where temperatures in the canyon were around 125 degrees. I camped on the rivers edge and it was so hot I couldn’t sleep and had to walk over to the river every half hour or so and dip a towel in the water and cover my head with it. Experiences like these make me think how much is must have sucked to be of the 19th Century photographers in the West.
The coloration in the image is a product of Deep Saliency, a way of using computer vision to analyze photographs using Artificial Intelligence.
In “classical” computer vision, one develops algorithms that look for lines, circles, “interesting features,” and complex shapes and tries to infer something about the images from these ensembles. In machine learning or AI applications, one “trains” the neural network on thousands or millions of images, and the network develops it’s own “tools” to analyze those images.
Deep Saliency is a technique to differentiate between sections, areas, or different types of objects in an image as interpreted by a neural network using criteria it has created for itself. -Trevor Paglen