Lens-Artist Challenge #302 – Artificial Intelligence and Photography

This is an interesting challenge. Johnbo from Journeys with Johnbo set the challenge of Artificial Intelligence and Photography.

When I first saw what it was, I thought, nah I’m not going to do this one. I don’t like AI and I don’t want to use it. I don’t like the idea of it taking away what I do.

My next thought was should I play with it?

I asked a friend the other day about it and he told that it is easy to do. So I contacted him today to find out how to do it. He told me he used Copilot. So I have it and have been playing around with it. I will give you my thoughts on it at the end.

So my first request was

to create an image of Melbourne with no people and foggy morning with sunlight

I got 4 images, but two of them had people in the foreground, or rather a woman just standing there. That’s not exactly what I asked for. Here are the 4 images.

I thought two of them weren’t bad.

It is funny when you look at the first one as the front of the building is the State Library and the dome on top belongs to the Royal Exhibition Building. The effect is quite nice, but there is something unnatural about it. I know Melbourne and neither of these is how Melbourne actually looks. When there is fog you don’t see much at all in my experience.

Then I thought about images I would love to create, but can’t. Or things I would like to photograph but can’t. One example would be that church in Iceland, I think it is, that many people take photos of.

I asked Copilot to create an image of a black church sitting at the base of a mountain with dried grass everywhere that looks like a photo.

This was the result.

These aren’t bad, but there is still something not quite right about them. I think I like the last one the best.

I was telling Dave, my husband, about the images I was creating and he suggested doing an image in the style of Batman or The Dark Knight. The results weren’t great.

I asked to create an image in the style of batman or dark knight of the Manchester Unity Building in Melbourne.

This is what it produced.

Too many bat wings and stuff.

So I tried again and asked to create an image in the style of the movie batman or dark knight of the Manchester Unity Building in Melbourne.

I still got a couple of images with the bat wings or even with Batman. However, one didn’t seem to have any and the other some in the background.

The bats in the sky I don’t mind in the second one as Melbourne does have a lot of bats that fly around at night. I think they are fruit bats.

The Manchester Unity Building, however, does not look anything like any of these.

This next one was interesting. I asked to create an image of an old abandoned building that is behind train tracks in the middle of nowhere during a storm.

Here are the results from it.

Wasn’t sure about the tracks going straight into the buildings. I guess that is the problem with AI it can take you literally.

So I tried to create an image of an old abandoned building that is beside train tracks in the middle of nowhere during a storm.

This is what I got.

That was certainly better, but not sure about the storm or the lightning everywhere.

Time to try something different.

I asked to create an image of an old abandoned building that is beside train tracks in the middle of nowhere with storm clouds, photographic.


I like these a lot more.

Finally my friend said to ask create an image of the melbourne skyline and the yarra river but add some famous new york buildings as well and also replace the princes bridge with the tower bridge.

A strange request and here are the results.

I am still not a fan of AI. Though, I have to admit it has been fun playing around with the images and seeing what results you get.

However, at the end of the day I love going out with my camera and photographing what is around me.  I also enjoying getting those images onto my computer and playing around with them.

I think AI has a long way to go and I think you can see from these that they don’t look like photos, at least to me they don’t. When you zoom in you can see things aren’t quite right. Then becomes the question of where does all the source material come from?

It is fine for fun, but I can’t see myself focusing on it. You will probably see more images here with it. I might try playing more with it in the future.

In the future, I think I will play around more with it, but it will never take away from my camera.

So this was a good challenge from Johnbo. Certainly, one to get us thinking. Thank you John for this, it has been good. Better than I thought.

Maybe you would like to participate this week, it is a great challenge to do. To find out how to join the Lens-Artists Challenge, click here for more info.

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    1. I did have fun with it, but not sure how much I would play with it. I love my camera, oh yes a new one is always good. Thank you.

    1. It is and it isn’t. The possibilities with AI are endless, but there are scary implications with it as well, like giving it the nuclear codes and letting it decide when to set them off. That is extreme, but you never know. Thank you Valent

  1. Got some fantastic shots there. Love the third batman image. I’m not a fan of AI across the board, but this looked like a bit of fun. Is it me or does most of the AI generated stuff have an almost animated vibe to it?

    1. Thank you Ed, I don’t know how much of a fan I am either, it will never replace me taking photos, but I have had a lot of fun with it this week. It isn’t you, I think that is the part they need to work on. They don’t look real, that’s for sure. Which is funny considering the source material is meant to be photos from the internet. THey are nice, but let’s get real.

  2. I have never been afraid of using it, even before the AI handle became so prominent. I’ve been using Topaz tools to sharpen images or add a painterly effect to extract colour and texture from my photos. I think AI is a great tool to use in photography from a creative standpoint but not a fan of creating from scratch. Like you, I prefer to be out with my camera and making photos of real things, and then being able to easily edit an image to how I had envisioned it.

    1. Very good point Ed, we have all been using it to some degree with out processing. I have tried to stay away somewhat, but it seems hard to do that now. I would only do images from scratch for some fun, though it could be good research too, not sure what I mean by that yet, but I have some ideas. I love my camera too much to give it up. Thank you.

  3. Your experience mirrors my own when it comes to AI. It’s fun but baffling at points, especially regarding the addition of things we didn’t ask for, like on you first set. Your post is a great read on this difficult subject, a very scientific approach. At the end of the day, your photos are so much more relatable and therefore, more enjoyable.

  4. You definitely had some fun, didn’t you? It feels like a new toy, something to play with. I like your images, and the prompts you plugged in. Some were a bit eerie and others science fiction. But it is nice to have the conversation about the subject, and to think about what is out there. Well done Leanne..

    1. I really did Donna. I agree it is good to have a conversation about it, it is fun to play around with it and see what it does, but I think I would only use it for fun. I would like to do more posts about it, see what else I can come up with. Thank you Donna.

  5. It seems like you had a lot of fun with this challenge. Leanne. Your images turned out very impressive and complicated. When I did mine it seems like it is very basic. After a few tries, I gave up haha.

    1. I did Teresa, it was fun and funny. I just thought of really outlandish things to ask. Or I would ask it to create images that I wish I could get, like the church ones. I think you need to have another go and just ask silly things. See what you get. Thank you Teresa.

  6. These are all pure fantasy and must have been fun to create, but they look more like paintings than photos to me. I wonder if the results would be better if you tried the same experiments in a few years when AI has become (presumably) even more sophisticated?

    1. It was fun Sarah, especially trying outlandish things. I agree, I think we can call them digital art rather than photos. They are digital that’s for sure. I suspect AI will get better with time, I guess we will see, thank you.

  7. Hi Leanne
    Well, what matters is how one uses AI. As an professional author I use AI daily for pre-editing, quick researching etc. We suppose it’s similar in photography. We noticed that people who are against AI are usually not the users. And we don’t agree that photos have to look natural. Why? It’s important that the picture looks interesting. If a picture looks fake, well, one can see it as honest as every picture is a fake, isn’t it? That art has to look natural is a concept that was thrown overboard by the Romantics.
    The images you show here are not a style we like but one can create other pictures with AI, the freedom is great, just look at modern advertisement.
    Interesting topic, indeed. But AI will be used more and more in every part of our life. It’s not the question if we like it or not. The question is how to use it.
    Wishing you a happy week
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. I do believe it should be each to their own, if you want to use it then you should, but it is just a bit of fun for me. I wouldn’t use it for blog posts, except to see what it would say. I might try it one day. Who knows.

    1. I don’t think you will find anyone who will disagree Arlene, and I’m the same, I will be keeping my camera. Thank you.

  8. I don’t like AI. None of those look like photos nor even enhanced manipulated photos. They all look like drawings to me.

    1. I agree, they don’t look natural. Drawings paintings or digital art, which when you think about it is exactly what they are. Thank you.

  9. That was interesting. I do use ai but only to remove things from a photograph. I don’t like generative filling because I feel it’s not natural. I still prefer doing my own photographs, no matter how limited it may be, than generating something from AI.

    1. That seems to be a common use for it. I have to admit I agree about the not natural look. I think I will always enjoy doing my own photos, that’s for sure. Thank you.

  10. Well A++ to you Leanne. Great job on using the AI software which I must admit I hadn’t heard of. I agree that all of the images look “fake” (ie not out of camera) but if I were into fantasy I’d truly love them. I’ll have to check out copilot which looks fun to use. Interestingly I don’t think any of them would ever pass for having come out of a camera but I can think of many other uses for them that would be terrific. I especially loved the NY/Melbourne scenes.

    1. Thank you Tina, I think there is lots of software out there now. I just used this one because I knew my friend would be able to help me with it. I think fantasy or artwork, maybe book covers, they would work, but not for what I want. I think we can learn from it and I would be interested in trying it more. NO they are not realistic enough, but I guess that could come at some point.
      Oh this message did come through, I don’t know why it appears or doesn’t, but seems to be a problem with the self hosted blog. I will delete the other comment, I hope that is okay.

  11. I have not tried using AI and I am sure there are some fields of human life where there is some utility but I really don’t see the value of its use in creative expression. That said, it was interesting to read what information/requests you had given the AI software and then see the images it constructed as a response.

    The wings coming out of the buildings in your Batman series are pretty hysterical. I think the most successful image is the last in the series of the black church in the field. I like the echoing of the mountain shape with the roof shape and the contrast between the sooty, monochromatic hues and the warm golden hues of the field. There is, however, just something “off” about the image despite all of that. I am actually pretty heartened that AI cannot produce something of the merit of an actual photographic image. The eye and creative thinking – and maybe soul – of the photographer remain critical. Phew!

    1. I have to agree Laura, I don’t understand why you would want some program to decide what your images will be like. I think it’s fun and I like playing with it, but I want to do my own photos. I have to admit I enjoyed that part, seeing what it would give me.

      I couldn’t believe those wings, they were hysterical. I really like that church one was well. Yeah when you look closely I think the church is too big for the scene and the church has flaws. I agree, we are much better at this stage.
      Thank you Laura.

  12. Good fun but yes I have better things to do with my time and own photos. I suppose I use a form of AI when I do abstracts from my abstract photos but I have full control of the result

    1. I do too, though I might play more with it. lol. I like having full control too, it can be hard to get AI to understand what you want. Thank you Brian.

  13. To me the photographs look like pictures by an artist who is into fantasy. Hyper real somehow and therefore unreal. Thinking of trains tracks, I remember hearing a story of how some researchers asked A1 how to create a perfect rail network where trains wouldn’t crash and the suggestion that came back was for the trains not to move!!

    1. That is a good way of putting it RJ, it really is like that. Hyper real or surreal, I don’t know. They are almost too perfect as well, but not like photos. I love that story you have shared, it is brilliant, thank you RJ.

  14. Leanne, I share your feelings about AI-generated images having an unnatural look. I find the same when I attempt to create an AI. Maybe I am not good with the prompts. Anyway, I liked your post and analyses you provided.

    1. The images are almost surreal, or photorealist, but not quite. I don’t think it is you, I think AI still has a long way to go. No doubt it will get there, but for me it might be fun to play around with, but I will stick with my camera. Thank you Egidio.

  15. I had a fun time playing around with the A.I. found in WordPress. I’m not a fan of AI and will always enjoy what my camera captures, but I can see it as a fun tool for creativity. I did like the images of the abandoned building/train tracks/storm clouds and could see how those might make for an interesting book cover. Fun experiment!

    1. I haven’t seen the AI in WordPress, I might have to go and explore more. I am with you, I love my camera too and enjoy my trips out with it. I think it is nice to explore it and see what it can do, but that is about it for me. I just wish the images you liked could be real ones I found. I thought of book covers too. Thank you Ingrid.

    2. I’ve played around with the AI features in WP for post titles but never photos. It’s clear this is just the beginning and I can see AI improving over time, but for now, I’ll stick to my own titles and photos. It can be entertaining though. 🙂

    3. I didn’t even know WP did it, lol. I am self hosted so many things work differently on mine. I think I will too, but I might play around some more thought.

    1. I don’t blame you Julie. I have felt the same, this challenge gave me a chance to try it out, I still don’t like it, but I will play more with it. I like my camera too much. Thank you Julie.

  16. An interesting article. All in all there is enough for me to think about in the taking of an ordinary photo. The photos we take are part of an exciting experience, which captures magical and personal moments. Some will be “works of art”, others will simply be a personall memory of a special place or person. I will stick with the simple “click”, and my guide will not be Arteficial Inteligence……..but “Leanne Inteligence”. …… Click!

    1. I have to agree Geoff, I think if this challenge hadn’t come up I probably wouldn’t have looked into it. I don’t think you can replace your memories and snapshots of the places you have been with AI. If we could why would any of us travel, seeing other people’s photos would be enough. That is really kind of you Geoff, thank you so much.

  17. I too am not a fan of AI in photography, Leanne. Although I am just an amateur, I still refuse to use AI and it says so in my sidebar. I dabbled with it on some website last year but no thanks. I’ve seen how corporations are using AI, will this take humanity down a very wrong road?

    1. Yeah it is a bit tricky and definitely does not replace real photography. I will play around with it, as a side thing, but I will continue doing what I do with my photos. That is a very interesting question, I don’t know, but you know if it can be used for good, it will defintely get used for evil as well. I’ve heard spammers are using it a lot.
      Thank you John.

  18. Interesting Post, Leanne. I’ve played a little with AI but your results were more interesting than anything I got. I’ve tried Co-Pilot and Adobe Generative Fill and a little bit of MidJourney (sp?). Adobe was the least satisfactory when it starts from scratch; it’s better at solving minor issues with a real photograph. I came away with the same conclusion you did. Should be interesting to keep an eye on, however. Cheers,

    1. I must admit I did get a lot of help from a friend. It was just a matter of letting my imagination go with it. I haven’t used anything else besides Copilot. I want to explore it more and maybe try using some of my own images, but I have only just begun, so lots to learn for me. I still love my camera however, and I enjoy going out and taking photos, I enjoy the challenge of post processing, so I don’t think I will stop with that. Lovely to hear from you Robin, thank you.

  19. I appreciate this post, Leanne. I feel much the same way but after reading this you have convinced me to try it. So, if I have time later in the week I think I will. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. I can’t see myself using it all the time, but for a bit of fun maybe. I would like to explore it more, though more for interest, but I won’t be putting my camera down. I hope you get a chance to look and see Dawn, let me know what you think. Thank you.

  20. I have to admit that I’m not a fan of AI. I find it gets boring after awhile and always looks fake. I follow another photographer who uses it a lot lately and I just wish he would stick to using his camera in natural settings again.

    1. Yeah the fake bit is a bit annoying. I don’t think I would like that either, I love my camera, it is part of the process for me. Thank you Carol.

  21. Looks like you had a lot of fun Leanne! You’re right none of them look like a regular photo. I need to find a tutorial for PS re AI because that’s all I have. It just might be too technical for me.

    1. Thank you Anne, they are interesting, not photos though. I haven’t looked into doing AI with PS, though I have used AI for noise reduction, I’m still on the fence about that. It can be easy, but I haven’t delved into it enough. Keep an eye out I will do more posts on it.

  22. I’m glad you showed me another way to create images. The issue for me is AI isn’t creating photos but images. I can tell it’s not a photo. That is what is off in my brain. The images are great but photos to me are the ones we take. The many of them good. Note: When reading your post through Notifications, your writing is on top of images. Like it didn’t line up right. Maybe another WP issue. 🙂

    1. That is true, though the images are not photographic, or look like realistic places. I think the same, I can’t see AI replacing my camera, but it will be fun playing around with it now that I have started.
      I haven’t heard that before about the the way the posts appear, I will have to see if others have the same issues, thanks for letting me know.

  23. I must admit that I enjoyed seeing the images. It is true that they don’t look like photographs, more like the art that they are. Like you, I won’t be putting down my camera. I have invested too much time and money in the tools and skills to create my own art, but that won’t stop me from using AI to enhance some of my work. I plan, though, to ‘fess up when I do.
    I do have some favorites in your collection. Several of the images of buildings beside the train tracks, the artistic look of the buildings stenciled with bat wings, and the last view of the Melbourne skyline. Thanks for sharing your experiments.

    1. thank you Johnbo, it was a great challenge.I agree, they are not photo realistic, that’s for sure. I won’t be putting mine down either. I will probably play around with it more, but like you will talking about it.
      I have to admit I quite like a few and wish I could find places that I could photograph like them. Oh well.

  24. AI is the future and now. I use it a lot for object removal. I haven’t dabled much in creating things with it becasue of the cartoony look and low resoution. It is such fun and I am glad to be able to be part of it.

    1. It may be the future, but not sure I’m really that interested besides playing around for fun. I agree about creating your own images, they are not quite right. Thank you Sherry.

  25. 👍 great playful work, straight out of your imagination using your own mindful camera. But like you I prefer my camera shooting the real world, manifeststing the way I see it.

    1. Thank you Chris, definitely out of my imagination. I can’t see it replacing the camera, well for people who want easy yes, but then you lose the experience of taking the photos. For me it would be like a model train person getting someone else to do all the work. There is a reason why some renovate, or restore old cars.

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