Photos in the Garden with Caroline Jensen

5. AI Generators and Visual Voice - A Flower Photographer Perspective

September 16, 2022 Caroline Jensen Season 1 Episode 5
Photos in the Garden with Caroline Jensen
5. AI Generators and Visual Voice - A Flower Photographer Perspective
Show Notes Transcript

Join professional photographer and Sony Artisan, Caroline Jensen, as she discusses how an illness led her into playing with AI generated art (Midjouney). She discusses how it spurred on her creative visual voice and challenges you to see how this new art form may fit into your own body of work! 

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Hello everyone. My name is Caroline Jensen, professional photographer and Sony artisan. Welcome to the program. I have had so much to say so much to say, but alas, my voice was completely gone. I ended up with tonsillitis or laryngitis or something. And, and for over a week I couldn't talk at all and I had some kind of infection.

So I ended up running a fever and I was in bed for five days solid, which for me is unheard of. Anyway, during that course of that illness, I really jumped deep into this world of artificial intelligence art, which is something I never.  never, never, never would have on ITSs head said. Yeah, I'm really interested in that.

It was something I heard about a few weeks ago and I started to play with the idea of artificial intelligence, just to see what it would do out of curiosity, more than anything.  but when I was bedbound and just feeling really terrible, it, it gave me an opportunity to be creative when I was unable to go anywhere and do anything.

I definitely couldn't pick up my camera. I hardly could eat anything. I couldn't drink water without it hurting. So, so having something to occupy my mind, where I could sit with my iPad in bed and play really opened my eyes to the well benefits or. Interesting nature of artificial inte art. This is a huge topic.

It's fairly new and it's hit the art world by storm. Even this morning, I was on an app that I use a lot called motion leap by light tricks, and they have artificial intelligence integrated into their app now, which is a new update, which apparently they haven't announced, or I haven't seen, it just was brand new when I opened up the app.

And I thought, well, okay, so this is everywhere. There are standalone apps. There are open source code where people can put it on their computers for free. There are things connected to Google. They go by a lot of different names, one of the main ones is called mid journey, which is a bot, which is on a discord server, which is the one I've been playing with the most.

Uh, there's also one called stable diffusion, Dolly two, which is, is another one. There are a lot of different options when it comes to this artificial intelligence. And you might say why as a garden photographer, am I even talking about this? Well, one of my big passions, when it comes to photography is focusing on your voice, your visual voice, what you want to say.

And the unique thing that I learned about artificial intelligence is that it has the ability.  push us to the end of our creativity. When I started with mid journey at first, I was, so it was like I was on a race. I, I wanna create this and I wanna create that. And for those of you who don't know the way that it works is you put in a text prompt, you put in some text, usually using a formula that the various artificial intelligence engines understand.

and then it spits out a picture or multiple pictures that you get to pick from, from here. You can upscale or redesign a little bit through some different functions that the various programs have to refine it a little bit, and then you save it. So essentially you are using your mind to create text, which creates the image.

It's a, it's a, it's a unique art form. It's unique because it is using.  text to imagery, which is a lot like writing. When we write a poem or a story we're creating visual images in our brain using words, the same thing here. Except the program is spinning up pictures. And it's, it's one of these things where you, you say it's kind of unusual things, maybe a, a giant alien ship lens on a flower, like a bee or something like that.

You St. You start to think outside of yourself, outside of the realm of reality. And I'm not really that kind of a person, I'm not really a sci-fi fantasy type person. So I was putting in prompts that were more realistic. I was putting in prompts that, that harkens two different artists that I like, like Albert Beto or different, uh, botanical artists like Rachel Roy.

I was putting in different artists to give the computer an idea of what I wanted it to spit out. So as I sat there in bed and I, I had all of these different images, literally pouring for thousands at a time, I realized that. Th there could never be an end to this. Right. You know, this is just this, this endless creativity.

The thing is, is though, after a week or so of doing it, I started to run out of ideas. I started to see how this whole idea of artificial intelligence helps to shepherd us into our true visual voice. You start to make decisions. Yes. I like this image. No, I don't like this image. And you can ask yourself why, why am I not liking this image?

I don't like the color. I think that the people look weird or the hands are odd. So there's, there's the, the, the discards, because the computer is just not that smart yet.  but then there's the discards because it doesn't fit who I am as an artist. So then I started to see a theme erupt, and it's funny, my daughter, she says, you're doing all these Auburn haired girls.

And I think it's because. Identify that way. I'm I have red hair. And so I was just curious to see how it would render that. And, and, you know, we, we start to put ourselves into fantasy worlds and maybe that's a little bit about what I was doing. I was pretending it was me doing different things. So I started to see a pattern over time and I, I started to create work.

I really liked, I would make a mental note and write down physically on a notepad. What prompts brought out certain characteristics that I liked. I liked this kind of illustrative. Look, I like this kind of lighting. I like this kind of shadowing. I started to write down the things that spoke to me, which things.

I liked the lighting color, texture shape. All of the things that I look for when it comes to visual voice. Now I've taught a class on visual voice for many years. And so I have seven main things that I look for when I'm trying to decipher someone's voice. I'm looking for composition, preferences, color preferences, emotional preferences, those kind of things.

And I started to do the same thing with the artificial intelligence work. What am I attracted to and why? And when I got to that point where I felt like I was getting bored with what it was creating, I realized that you do reach an end of your creativity. When it comes to this, you do reach an end where you feel like you're still stuck.

And it was something so simple to create art, to actually kind of reach the end and feel like I don't know what to do was a really liberating feeling. It could be a little terrifying, but it was liberating in that it showed me. That my voice was still active in all of this process and that it was getting bored with what was being created and I needed to push it further.

So then it pushed my brain out into more deeper recesses. What would I create if I could create anything? What, what art do I want hanging on my wall? What art do I want in front of me? What do I want to stand in front of? And.  art is a lot of things to a lot of people. It can be something that took thousands of hours to create or something that was simple and fast.

Like someone putting a banana peel and tacking it to a wall. You know, this debate about what is art has been going on for thousands of years. I heard a story back in the day. Maybe it's the 14 hundreds. I'm not sure, but when marble sculpting sculpting these huge, beautiful three dimensional sculptures were kind of at their peak at their heyday and how maybe it was the Renaissance, it's probably the Renaissance.

But anyway, the sculptors felt like they were the true artists because they were working in three dimensions. Whereas the painters. We're working on a flat surface. And so there was this debate between them and it just shows me that people don't change is arch only arch. If you put hours and hours and hours and hours into it is arch only arch.

If it's a skillset that not everybody possesses is art a way of communicating all of these definitions. Whichever one you fall into will determine. How you feel about art. And there is this vast argument going on is, is artificial intelligence, art, art, but laying there in bed and, and going through this process, I came to the conclusion that I believe it is art because the decisions that I make about whether I like something are not, are unique to me, someone else may be sitting next to me and say, I like that picture.

And I could say, I, I don't, if anything, at all, Artificial intelligence has helped me to drill down into deeper aspects of who I am as a, as a creator. The other thing that it's done has frustrated me. I'm gonna be honest. I'm a photographer. I love to photograph in my garden. And the motivation for photographing in my garden is my love for the plants that I grow my love for my yard.

The time that I put into it, the process, the joy of the journey and photographing it is a record of what I've done, what I've created, that is its own art form. It's memories. It's putting together beauty from what I've helped to create with my hands. This whole thing with artificial intelligence is a little different and I can create similar images that I.

Photographically, but they don't have the same kind of emotional attachment. I don't, I'm not emotionally invested in, in the images yet. People have talked about prompt craft, which is the art form of putting together really long intricate prompts to create the best picture straight out of camera or straight out of artificial intelligence.

They're emotionally tied to the investment of time into creating the words that create the pictures that they want to. Does that make you an artist? I don't know. The same thing could be said for poets or novelists. They're using words to create visual pictures and their area of expertise is putting words to the page.

Putting words to the page and creating beautiful words that create beautiful images. The debate will rage on what is an artist, what makes a great artist? What criteria. Makes a great artist and people will argue about it. Forever painters thought that photography was going to take away their job and it didn't digital cameras threatened film photographers.

The whole thing is very cyclical. We see people complaining and being frustrated.  all along the process. So, so what can we do with this? I want to challenge you today. And the, what I want to share with you ultimately here is to figure out what can you learn from artificial intelligence? If you take what you know, from your garden photography or from your gardening, or from whatever moves you and you take those ideas and you push them through a machine and it spits out pictures, what do you like?

What don't you like? I suggest playing with it only because I've learned so much about myself during this journey. I really was not expecting it. I was frustrated at first I thought, well, this isn't real art. This is, this is something created by somebody else. And it is, but the benefit to my brain and to my creativity, it opened up a whole new world for.

it also frustrated me a little bit because I knew that I couldn't create the same kind of images easily. So much about photography is limiting. I'm looking for a subject we're moving into autumn. What am I gonna photograph all winter? These questions rise up. How am I going to make beautiful garden pictures in the winter?

You know, what can I do these questions of how do I continue doing what I do? And still honor the seasons. Right? Well, I've come up with a plan. I'm just gonna continue working through my summer images and sharing them, but I'm gonna also photograph things in winter outdoors, barns trees. But then I, I look at the artificial intelligence images that are created and they're, they're, they're exactly what I'd love back.

Lit sun, sun soaked, snow drifts, sparkle, snow, like all the things that I would love to see in real life. But don't. I can create artificially. So it's made the idea of photographing things a little bit less exciting because I have to figure out how to meet that expectation when I can sit down for an hour and create 10 images that I think are amazing using word prompts.

And then I have to pick up my camera and try to make something amazing with that. It's significantly more work, but I'm up to the challenge. My question, I pose to you. How can artificial intelligence make you a better photographer? What can it push you to see in your mind, open up ideas that maybe you didn't have before?

I'd love to see what you create. I'm excited to, to jump into this photographically and see how can push my photography to a new level. I mean, the truth is.  I sometimes like the artificial intelligence image is better because they have more sparkle, more depth. They're, they're surreal. They have a lot of things that aren't natural about them.

And I'm a person who is forever messing with my photography, pushing pixels, changing. But it's, it's really opened up my mind. And, and if I'm going to open up my camera bag and take it out and make a photograph, it's changed my expectations. I wanna make something better. I wanna make something more vibrant, more detailed, better lighting.

It's really pushed me to, to ramp it up, to meet the expectations of. The artificial intelligence images have placed in my mind as a possibility. If you wanna get started with mid journey, it's pretty easy. , I will have some videos on my creative photography network on how to join it, but there are many YouTube videos on how to do it as well.

It's pretty simple. You can do a, a free trial where you get to, to play with it for free to kind of see what it's like. There are other things like stable diffusion and Dolly too, which have different membership.  amounts where you can play with those two. And that's something else I wanted to mention is that each program has unique hallmarks and one program may be more in tune to your voice than another one.

For me, mid journey is a perfect fit. Will I continue with it forever? Probably not, but it's fun right now. And I'm able to go in and stir my creative juices. I've had so much. So my challenge for you is to consider what artificial intelligence means to you. Are you initially horrified as I was, who was, am definitely more of a Luddite who is not somebody who's big into technology.

And it was a genuinely huge surprise that I actually enjoyed.  or are you somebody who wants to embrace it and follow the curve and, and ride the wave to the end? It appears that it's not going anywhere. And that it's entrenching itself in the art world. How can you as a creator ride this wave either financially or creatively, I'd love to hear what you think.

Thanks everyone.