Frankenpics or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the AI

Mar 31, 2024

A new concept

Can AI have an idea? Can it come up with a new concept? Can it create something from scratch? Will it ever be able to replace the human workforce completely? Will it eventually destroy humanity?

A while ago I took this picture of Absolut’s special edition, Mosaik. The setup was pretty straightforward, just two lights: a strip box through a scrim, behind a frosty acrylic another strobe with barn doors with a piece of Lee 216 diffusion attached, the bottle standing on a gloss black acrylic sheet.

The result was fine but I thought to myself: a cool bottle like this needs a cool background. I had something fantastic in mind, like colorful light swirls or a matching mosaic. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one. What to do?

I had no choice but to turn to the enemy for help.

Frankenpics

Photoshop’s Generative AI is a true wonder. I’ve read quite a bit about it and I’ve seen people making it do amazing things. I have tried it myself before, but nothing too serious, just playing around. Now it was time to get serious.

First I selected the bottle and inverted the selection. Next, I gave the GenAI several different prompts, like “colorful lights”, “colorful light swirls”, “colorful mosaic”, and at least 50 tries.

The results were astounding.

It’s really hard to tell which one is more amazing, the one with the psychedelic light painting, the one with schizophrenic mosaics, or the one where AI tried to make a dispenser out of the vodka bottle. Also, I didn’t ask it to make clones of the bottle.

Despite the proper object selection in Photoshop, each time it added some bits to the bottle, especially the cap. Its attempts at mirror reflections are quite pathetic and mind-blowing at the same time. It understands that there is a mirror!

I’m giving you here just a small selection of the GenAI madness. Some of the pics look scary as if done by a psycho killer, but all in all, I must say they are pretty cool.

AI is not an artist

From over 50 renditions I chose one I thought could work. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind in the first place, but I liked how AI matched the colors of the background to the colors of the label.

It did mess with the bottle, made a strange horizon line, and had too harsh of a look to my liking, so I still had lots of retouching work. I didn’t mind doing it though, because I like to work with the brush. It makes me feel like an artist.

Vodka bottle with AI-generated background

AI is not an artist. You need to make the right selection, give the right prompt, and correct the mistakes afterward. Things often get lost in translation with the GenAI.

It’s not an easy fix. I did a lot of work on this image. The final result is not bad at all. What do you think?

AI takeover

Many photographers are worried that AI will end photography, and steal their jobs. Some say that using AI to edit pictures equals cheating.

As you can see from the examples above we can all relax, for now. We still need photographers and retouchers to create quality work. AI still makes a lot of mistakes, resulting in Frankensteins and mutants. It is pretty good at expanding backgrounds and removing objects, so we should use it to our advantage.

Check out this photographer’s hilarious and reassuring blog post.

So use it, but use it with caution. Keep in mind that AI’s source is in stock images, the work of other photographers. I personally wouldn’t use it to alter too much in my image, for example placing a bottle of vodka where there was none. Or placing a desert house in the mountains, or myself working hard in the office while in reality, I’m sleeping in my bed. That’s faking.

I don’t want to see a fake landscape or a fake interior. Unfortunately one can’t escape it anymore when on the internet. Fake people too, and I don’t mean those fake personalities. And we often can’t tell a difference.

This scary New York Times quiz perfectly demonstrates that.

Whenever you’re pro or contra AI, one thing is certain, it needs to be regulated and monitored constantly. Otherwise, we will all be sorry.

Bonus!

Some people made remarks on my picture of cheesecake that I had better replaced the red currant in the foreground with raspberries. It only made sense, as I already have put raspberries on the top of the cake. I don’t know why I used red currant. Maybe I ran out of raspberries, or maybe I thought it was pretty. Anyway, whenever you encounter this type of problem and don’t know how to solve it… AI comes to the rescue!

Generative AI replaced berries with a sleeping kitten

GenAI put a sleeping kitten in my picture. I asked it to.

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