A photographer asked DALL-E, an AI image generator, to create real-life images from photos he took with a Leica camera. The results were amazing, to be sure.
Entrepreneur in technology Fabian Stelzer gave the AI text-to-image creator specific instructions (known as prompts) that he believed would produce an image similar to the one he took on a Leica camera.
After some prompt engineering to perfect the results from DALL-E, he presented the artworks next to one another with the text he had used to instruct the machine. Multi-colored bands are used to mark DALL-E images.
Stelzer, a Berlin-based tech entrepreneur, shot the reference photos on a Leica M9 and a Leica M4-P and prioritized subject variety rather than aesthetics when selecting the photos to test DALL-E.
“I got the idea while on vacation, and only had access to an extremely limited number of my photographs on my laptop,” he tells PetaPixel.
“In hindsight that made it easier to ‘ship’ the project as I wouldn’t end up with analysis paralysis on which ones to choose.”
Mundane photos such as an empty coffee cup were selected and then detailed prompts were fed into the AI machine down to technical style instructions such as “macro photograph” and “warm film color grading.”
Images generated by DALL-E have a telltale multi-colored logo at the bottom right of the images. It is difficult to tell which image is genuine and which was made by AI without this indicator.
Stelzer downplays his own photography prowess and says the point of the project was not to have his photos exhibited, but rather to experiment with the AI tools.
The photographs are not special. However, DALL-E recreations aren’t special either.
Stelzer believes that these early examples of AI-image generation will be looked back on as “having a peculiar charm” like how some enthusiasts look back on early camera technology. “I am incredibly impressed by AI synths in all and believe this is equal to the invention of printing presses,” he said.
“At the same time, I think these examples show that there are still limitations, sometimes charming, sometimes weird when compared to the original photographs.”
Stelzer says that some people are likening these new AI tools to the invention of photography.
“If anything, that is probably an understatement on their future importance as drivers of a new era in media,” he adds.
This is not the first time Stelzer has put an AI-image generator to the test. Recent image comparison tests between DALLE, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion showed how different programs interpret identical prompts.
More of Stelzer’s work can be found on his Twitter.
Image credits: All images courtesy of Fabian Stelzer.