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Magazine
Photography Will Become More Diversified

by Editor Yan Zhang
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 14th of June 2024

Redefining the Essence of Photography

Generative AI makes us re-examine the essence of photography.
As a form of contemporary art, photography has long been beyond simply recording the reality of the world. If one of the essences of photography is to express emotions, awaken people’s consciousness, and thus inspire people, can AI also achieve this purpose?

Photographer Michael Brown is a professional journalist and documentary filmmaker, and has been a photographer for National Geographic magazine since 2004. In April 2023, Brown used Midjourney to generate a series of AI pictures called "90 miles", which reproduced the Cubans' escape from Havana across the 90-mile strait to Florida in the form of realistic photographs.

 

“90 miles“. Generated on Midjourney, by Michael Brown.

 

Brown's "90 Miles" caused a big uproar in the international photojournalism community, and fierce debate ensued between supporters and opponents. However, in any case, (generative) AI has had a significant impact on photojournalism. How to use AI technology correctly will be a question that all photographers need to think about together.

As Brown himself said: “I share many of the common thoughts, concerns and opinions about AI, but there is no getting around that the technology is here. So how do we constrain it while using it to tell stories, especially stories impossible to photograph, that might generate empathy and awareness of important issues?”

 

"The bombing of London on September 7, 1940 (I)". Generated on Midjourney, by Yan Zhang.

 

 

"The bombing of London on September 7, 1940 (II)". Generated on Midjourney, by Yan Zhang.

 

Reshaping the Art of Photography

In the current photography world, except to a few specific photography categories, such as photojournalism, geographic, nature, etc., where authenticity of the real world is key to reflect in the photographs, many other photography categories, such as black and white, landscape, architecture, creativity, etc., are mostly attributed to the generic type of artistic photography, for which the artistic post processing is a very important part of the overall creative process of this type of work.

As time goes by, people will become more open to accept AI generated art, and more and more photographers (especially new generation photographers) will use generative AI technology in their photography processes. This will objectively reshape the art of photography in the traditional sense, thus forming a large category of "AI art photography". 

 

A still photography work or an AI generated image?

 

Before CAI (Content Authenticity initiative) is fully implemented in the entire photography industry (if there is such a day), since we cannot distinguish between traditional art photography and art photography involving AI components (without verifying the original RAW file), this will mostly result in a blurred boundary between traditional art photography and AI art photography.

 

 

A minimalist photograph or an AI generated image?

 

Traditional Photography and AI Photography Will Coexist

Although generative AI is having a huge impact on photography, it does not mean that photography will disappear. On the contrary, photography, as a form of artistic expression, will progress towards diversification.

Photography categories such as photojournalism, geographic and nature will continue to exist in their current form, because the human nature of pursuing the real world will not change. This type of photography will not be influenced by generative AI technology due to its special requirement for verifying original RAW files. We might as well call this type of photography as "pure photography".


All other photography categories that people are currently familiar with will inevitably be affected by AI technology. More traditional photography artists will actively or passively start to use AI technology. As a such, more photographic works will contain AI components in near future.

Faced with these challenges, I believe that most mainstream photography competitions will eventually add an "open format" category to accept AI generated works or works containing AI generated elements to participate in the competition. In this way, existing art photography will also be further divided into two classes: traditional art photography without AI components and "AI art photography", and the popularity of AI art photography is likely to increase rapidly.


As mentioned before, the boundaries between traditional art photography and emerging AI art photography are not very clear. In most cases, we can only trust what the photographer himself/herself declares whether his work does or does not contain AI components.

In terms of commercial photography, the impact of AI on the existing commercial photography market should not be underestimated. Media and industries that rely on commercial photography, such as fashion magazines, commercial advertisements, etc., are likely to turn to low-cost AI generated images, which will be a big challenge for professional photographers who make a living from commercial photography.

Whether we like it or not, the AI era has arrived. As photographers, we should embrace AI rather than reject it. Perhaps photographer Michael Brown’s choice will give us some inspiration: insist on being a photographer in the traditional sense, but also embrace AI to open up a new creative world.

 

 

About the Author

Zhang Yan is a professor of artificial intelligence at Western Sydney University in Australia and has been undertaking AI research for 30 years.

Zhang Yan is also a passionate natural landscape photographer, an outdoor and mountaineering enthusiast. He is dedicated to mountain photography, integrating extreme mountaineering into his landscape photography journey, and has captured unparalleled mountain sceneries around the world.

In 2022, Zhang Yan’s mountain photography work "Breaking Dawn" won the first place in the landscape category of Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Competition.

 

'Breaking Dawn' by Yan Zhang
 
Write
I think Zhang Yan very interesting articles are for making averyone reflecting; open the black box of AIgraphy that many photographers would like to destroy with atomic bomb! His very open minded approach suggests us something that is inescapable in the visual arts field and which we would all do well to admit, to include in our creative process as we did many years ago with digital photography....I invite anyone to give their opinion without waiting for Yan summary because we don't know if Yan wants to do it and I believe there is no need....
I wish just remind to my comment to Part 4 which is generally in line with Udo comment.
Hello Yan, That was the 6th and final part of your work "Generative AI and Photography" - and what happens now? Will you summarize all our comments so we can discuss further? Will there now be a statement from the 1x management about further planning with regard to planned permitted AI categories? Or what was your goal with this very good and detailed work? I am very excited ...
Dear Udo, this is the last part of the article. I need to say that I am not in a position to make any statement on behalf of 1x management. Whether there will be a new AI category or not, I don't know, it will totally depend on the 1x founders and other relevant crew members' opinions. But what I can say is: AI researchers are continuously pushing the boundary rapidly, more AI models such as Luma (https://lumalabs.ai/dream-machine) have been released recently for AI generative arts. Now no matter we like or dislike, many traditional arts (not just photography) will be (probably is being) greatly influenced by generative AI. Currently I am doing the research on the topic "AI and the Future of Photography", which is also a topic of an invited talk I will present sometime in August 2024.
Light - The Key to Photography (2)

by Editor Lourens Durand 
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 12th of June 2024

 

'Come On, Catch Up' by Paul Wullum



In a previous article  'Light – The Key to Photography'
 we looked at the differences between hard, soft, natural, and artificial lighting and at how the various lighting types and set-ups influence the final results, mainly in portraiture.

In this new article (part 2), I will expand on the use of studio lighting in:

Still Life
Tabletop
Product
Food
And Macro photography


But first, a bit of theory. In physics they teach you that the angle of incidence of light equals the angle of reflection. This is particularly important in the types of photography discussed here, and is sometimes called the Family of Angles (Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, Fil Hunter, Biver and Fuqua, First published 1997)

It means that, for a flat surface, the angles at which your lighting hits the subject will equal the angles at which it is reflected back into your camera. If the camera is placed within this angle, or so-called family of angles, there will be bright reflections or hot spots on your image.

 

 

This may, or may not be a problem, but the point is that, to avoid unwanted reflections, you would either have to move the camera further away from the subject (perhaps using a longer focal length), move the lights, or use masking techniques to block out areas of light.

Many of the objects that we photograph are, however, not flat, but have cylindrical or compound shapes, with multiple families of angles, in which case we must move camera and lights around to find the optimum, or use flagging techniques to mask isolated areas, or both.

 


LIGHTING FOR STILL LIFE, TABLETOP, PRODUCT AND FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

I have grouped these together because, although they are different genres, the lighting requirements are similar.
Natural light from a lace-curtain window gives a pleasant soft light but limits the time of day that one can shoot, varies in intensity, and it is more difficult to create different moods and contrasts of light and shade.

In classical still life scenes, we want to create mood with lighting, be it strobe or continuous. There are a number of ways to do this, but general advice is to start with one key light and build the scene up slowly, creating a blend of light and shadowy areas by adding more lights, reflectors and even flagging areas using dark cards in front of the light to remove harsh lighting.
Soft-boxes work well in this type of set-up, yielding soft light and diffused shadows, depending on the angles and distance from the subject – the closer to the subject the softer the light.

A useful start is, for example, to use one soft-box to the right of the camera, adjusting the height, intensity, and angle to give a nice mix of light and shade. Then add another soft-box, of lower intensity, to the left of camera just to soften the scene and produce a range of darker areas. If necessary, add a white reflector board above the subject to reflect down onto the more difficult parts of the subject - a bouquet of flowers for example. Maybe add a reflector low in front of the subject to lighten up any harsh shadows at the base of the subject.

Sometimes, one can use a snoot, barn doors, or a beauty dish to highlight part of the subject.
For added interest it is possible to place a soft-box low down behind the subject to light up part of the background.
Bright items and glass are particularly difficult to light, because of the Family of Angles and unwanted reflections.
It helps to light the subject with a diffused soft light from behind using a soft-box, natural light from a lace-covered window, or a bounced light aimed at a white wall behind the subject. Whilst this avoids unwanted reflections it may look a little flat. The situation can be improved by adding a soft light or a white reflector on each side of the subject. Placing a black card in front of each of these lights, and adjusting their positions, one can emulate a strip light, creating attractive black lines on the edges of the glasses, giving a 3D effect.

An even more attractive effect can be achieved by placing a square black card between the back-light and the glass, making the edges of the glass stand out more and creating even more depth, as well as providing a dramatic backdrop.

Another possible set-up is to light from above, using a soft-box on a boom stand (or even just bouncing the light off the ceiling), and using a reflector card below to light the lower sections. Some photographers add a scrim above the subject to soften the light even more.

A special mood can be attained by a technique called Painting with Light. In this technique, long exposures of 5 seconds or more are made whilst selectively lighting up areas of a still life subject using a flash-light. Several exposures can be made and then combined in Photoshop, with interesting effects. One can even give a flash from the soft-box at the beginning of the exposure to give added effect.

All the principles apply to food and tabletop photography as well, except that the food must look particularly tasty as well. Food photographers have ways and means of “styling” foods to make them look mouth wateringly tasty, but that is a whole different subject.

Soft lighting with a soft-box is mostly preferred in food photography, and the lighting schemes above work well, but sometimes a hard light, with crisp shadows creates the mood required. Here you can use an unmodified strobe or flash. Hard side-lighting, from one side, can give an interesting three-dimensional appearance.

 

'Still life with blue Vases' by Ustina Green

 

 

'Grapes' by Silvia Simonato

 

 

'autumn colors' by Aida Ianeva

 

 

'Oil and Vinegar' by Aida Ianeva

 

 

'Still life with lemons' by Svetlana L

 

 

'with peaches and grapes' by Tatyana Skorokhod

 

 

'Like a Family' by Louie Luo

 

 

'Still life with five pink tulips' by Vito Guarino

 

 

'Still Life with Fruit' by Lourens Durand

 

 

'In the dark of my days' by Delphine Devos

 

 

'A Sour Taste' by Lydia Jacobs

 

 

'Red Apple' by Aida Ianeva

 

 

'About summer' by Tatyana Skorokhod

 

 

'Apple core' by Christian Roustan (Kikroune)

 

 

Untitled by Emine Basa

 

 

'Tree of spice' by Diana Popescu

 

 

'Circular Arrangement' by Jacqueline Hammer

 

'Prunus Avium N°3' by Christophe Verot

 

 

'Tomatoes that smell' by Svetlana Povarova Ree

 

 

'Tastes of Summer' by Mandy Disher

 

 

'Clockworks' by Thomas Lenne

 

 

'Autumn Box' by Inna Karpova

 

MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY

One of the difficulties with macro photography is lack of light – the camera is very close to the subject and the lens needs to be opened wide, resulting in a very small depth of field. Adding a source of light allows one to close up the lens to get a greater depth of field. There are countless ways of doing this, but merely putting a flash on top of the camera is not one of them, as there will be an enormous number of bright areas in the photo.

A common way around this is to use a mini soft-box attached to the flash head, preferably one that is angled downwards to facilitate close-up shooting. There are many variations on the market at reasonable prices (and numerous home-made versions not for sale).

Another device is the ring flash, which is a ring of light fitted around the lens. This works well, but sometimes give weird reflections.

There are also flash heads attached to brackets with joints on flexible arms that can be moved around to give optimal lighting. Also available are small twin flashes attached directly to the side of the lens.If the subject you are photographing is portable, any studio lighting can be used, including LEDs on flexible arms (although the light is a bit dim compared to others), and a light-box is particularly useful.

 

… Element sewing machine … by Johanes Januar

 

 

'Boom boom' by Christophe Kiciak

 

 

'Ration' by Andiyan Lutfi

 

 

'The color is stronger than the words...' by Thierry Dufour

 

 

'Blue Rays' by Þorsteinn H. Ingibergsson

 

 

'Show Time' by Hasan Baglar

 

 

'Coenagrion puella' by Dusan Beno

 

'Lost' by Jimmy Hofmann

 

Conclusion

There is an abundance of lighting techniques for still life, tabletop and food photography, but the best way to learn is to experiment – start with one light and build it up, noting what effect each addition makes, looking for the Family of Angles and adjusting as needed to create the effect that you are looking for.

 

I hope you enjoyed this selection of photos by 1X.com photographers to whet your appetite.

 

Lourens Durand

 

Write
Excellent educative article accompanied by wonderful photographs, many thanks Laurens.
Great article and superb pictures!Very helpful and inspiring,Thank you so much for sharing!<3<3
Many thanks Lourens and Yvette for the great article!
Beatiful and inspiring. Thank you !
...what a splendid images. Many congrats...
Great series, thank you very much!!!
Thank you very much !!!
Thank you so much...
Andy Bauer: Street Photography as stage for the human condition

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 10th of June 2024

 

To Andy Bauer, street photography offers the opportunity to connect with the world, to immerse himself in colours, structures and situations. Feeling that pulse is really exciting to him. He quotes:  'Every street corner, every passer-by and every fleeting moment can tell a story. It is the people who breathe life into the streets. What is particularly fascinating to me is the play with light and shadow. That's why southern countries, especially Cuba, inspire me so much. The light there always blows me away. It often adds depth, emotionality and a sense of mystery to the everyday.' Andy's photographic vision is shaped by an interest in people and their stories. Let's walk with him through the streets and admire his excellent and strong street photographs.



Dear Andy, to begin, please introduce yourself and tell us about you, your hobbies or other jobs/projects you are involved in!

Hello Yvette, thank you for the invitation. I live in Frankfurt, Germany, I spent quite a bit of time at university when I was younger, studying cultural anthropology, art history, theatre, film and media studies, and journalism. Today I am an editor for the news site of a public broadcaster.

 

'Streetball'

Photography is my true passion. I invest a lot of time into this. If there's anything left, I'll try to improve my Spanish. It's a lot of fun, even if I have to admit that my seven-year-old daughter can already do it better than me. She is growing up bilingual.

 

Your work is full of vivid colours, combined with exceptional light and shadows. Most of your photographs are street action shots. All your images undeniably wear your signature.  What does street photography mean to you?

 

'Streetplay'


Street photography offers me the opportunity to connect with the world, to immerse myself in colours, structures and situations in the here and now, to be completely with myself and at the same time to be open to everything that comes. It's about being present, having patience and being open to the unexpected. It's about finding the special in the chaos and the order in the randomness. Feeling that pulse of a situation is really exciting.

Every street corner, every passer-by and every fleeting moment can tell a story. It is the people who breathe life into the streets. What is particularly fascinating to me is the play with light and shadow. That's why southern countries, especially Cuba, inspire me so much. The light there always blows me away. It often adds depth, emotionality and a sense of mystery to the everyday. Added to this are the strong colours that increase the dynamism.

 

'Childhood'

 

In short: it is street photography that can put me in a flow. Then I actually walk through the streets for hours until I eventually notice how exhausted I am and how my feet hurt. My photos tell of these experiences. The German word for experience “Erfahrung” expresses this quite well. Because it has “fahren” (going or driving) in its root word, which shows that you have to move, that you have to go out in order to understand something.

There is one more thing I have to say: Although colour is very important to me - I love the look of Kodachrome film - I sometimes convert the photos to black and white. That always depends on the motive.

 

'In the mirror'

What first drew you to street photography and how did you discover it?

I had always had a latent interest in photography. But I had a real awakening experience when I flew to Cuba for the first time in 2010 with my Nikon D300. It was so different than anything I had seen before: a real journey through time to another planet: the lively streets, stages of life, joy and sadness, love and passion. It all seemed so authentic to me, sometimes cheesy, but still so powerful. I wanted to capture this with the camera. This was the start. This passion has never left me since then. This one is one of the first pictures I made in Cuba:

 

'Inside travelling – outside history, Havana, Cuba'

What do you think makes a memorable street photograph?

Good street photos have emotional depth, meaning they show a human experience such as joy, passion, sadness, loneliness, surprise or even boredom. There are also aesthetic components. Lines and shapes that guide the viewer's gaze. Light and shadow are also included.

And of course a good street photo depends on the authenticity  and uniqueness of the moment. When all of these come together and reinforce each other, then that's great. A great street photo tells something about ourselves, captures something like the essence of human life - and shows it in a visually appealing way.

 

'Curious'

Can you describe your overall photographic vision, Andy?

My photographic vision is shaped by an interest in people and their stories. I see the street as a stage on which human life in all its facets is performed. It's about capturing these special fleeting moments that go beyond the purely everyday and relate to our nature as humans - our conditio humana: our passions, contradictions and imperfections.

I look for shapes, lines and textures that support the message. Authenticity and spontaneity - the decisive moment. I'm not trying to orchestrate or influence anything. Ultimately, my photographic vision is a continuous journey of discovery, inspiration and reflection on life itself.

 

'Waiting'

How important is content versus form in street photography? Do you personally think one plays a stronger role than the other?

There are certainly cases in which the content is more important: I'm thinking of the more documentary street photography. But even that doesn't come without any form. Likewise, there are cases in which aesthetics take centre stage and become so powerful that it becomes meaningful content.

 

'Umbrella'

 

I don't want to separate it all like that. What is depicted in the picture – the people, the scenes, the stories - play a central role for me in street photography. They are what captivate the viewer and offer narrative depth. But it is the composition, light, shadows, lines, patterns and colours that organize the image and raise it to an artistic level that makes it easier or even possible for the viewer to grasp the message of the image. I think both are important.

 

'Playing Basketball'

What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?

What I would like to show the viewer is the beauty in the ordinary, the diversity of life, the liveliness on the street, the joy and strength of its protagonists, perhaps sometimes their struggle and loneliness. If the viewer pauses for a moment and takes part, I would be happy.

 

'Green Facade'

What do you think are some clichés in street photography you steer away from yourself?

You probably mean something like reflections in puddles, those shadows all the time, people walking past walls and crowded streets. Sure, a lot of this has been seen many times before and it can seem shallow. Still, I don't think about it much. The fear of clichés can have an inhibiting effect. I try to create authentic, captivating photos that don't just scratch the surface. If there are shadows and reflection, then so be it.

Homelessness is a difficult issue. Not that it isn't important to solve the social problem. But I don't want to show people in a helpless state. What I also don't like is excessive editing, exotic filters and HDR effects that give the impression of depth of content.

 

'Walking on the Wall'

What were the difficulties you encountered first starting street photography and what advice would you give to beginners?

When I started Street, I was worried about how people would react to me. It helped me look for places that visually appeal to me. I was basically lying in wait there. With this approach I didn't have to follow people with my camera, they just walked past my lens. This has the advantage that I was noticed less. This is still a technique I use.

 

'Malecon'

My advices for beginner? Have fun and be curious. Find a camera you like. Go out and see what grabs you. Try not to think too much and let the flow take you away. Experiment. Look at how the shadows go, where the interesting colours are. Be patient. You have to take a lot of shots to get a few good ones. Be respectful. Accept when people don't want to be photographed.

Be inspired by great photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Steve McCurry, William Eggleston or Ernst Haas. And show your pictures to your friends and/or on sites like 1x.com. Become part of a photography community.

 

'football'

Who are some of your favourite photographers, and how did they influence you?

I'm very impressed by Ernst Haas's pictures. What I find fascinating are his dynamic, often very experimental compositions, the play with light and shadow, his diversity and the way he handles colour. Steve McCurry is also one of my heroes. What I find particularly impressive about him is his ability to tell a whole story and capture emotions with one picture. I was also impressed by the approach of German photographer Torsten Andreas Hoffmann, who combines photography and Zen meditation - mindfulness, presence and simplicity, inner peace and focus.

 

'Malecon'

When you are out shooting—how much of it is instinctual versus planned?

I have favourite places that I visit again and again. There are a few places in Havana, for example, that I always go to when I'm there. These are places where something happens, which have a special light or a very specific texture. But I also like to drift through the streets like a stroller and see what catches me. When you don't have an orientation, you're more receptive, Walker Evans once said. I think there's something to it.

 

'Futbol'

What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?

I take photos with a Sony Alpha A9. I like the camera because it has an analogue feeling with its many manual adjustment buttons. I usually attach the standard 24-70mm, 2.8 GMII lens to it. On longer tours, my Peak Design bag (10l) also includes the 70-200mm 2.8 GMII, the Sony 16-35 mm F4/PZ and the 35 mm 1.4. GM. I like the bag because it's discrete and doesn't immediately reveal what's inside.

 

'Red Car Number 3'

What software do you use to process your images?

I use Lightroom, Dxo PureRaw 4 and Silver Efex for black and white conversion. Rarely Photoshop.

 

'Distracted'

Can you tell us something more about your work flow?

Out on the street I take a lot of pictures and hardly delete any. A complex selection process begins for me on the computer, which can take weeks or months and which I really enjoy. For me, composition and framing are very important. Sometimes I look through my image archive and discover the potential of a photo I took years ago. It's like taking a photo twice, once on the street and later on the computer.

 

'Taxidriver'

Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography and can you share with us your future plans or projects you would like to be involved in.

I would like to work more consistently in series. And I would like to design photo books.

How has social media played a role in your photography?

I like looking at what other photographers post on Instagram. I'm not quite as diligent there myself. But social media offers a great opportunity to get feedback and become part of a larger community.

 

'Havana Blue'

What is one question nobody has ever asked you—that you wish they asked you?
Maybe this: Can you say that street photography has changed your view of the world? I think yes, photography - and street photography in particular - has made me more open, more attentive and perhaps more empathetic. I have learned to live more in the moment.

 

'Driving fast'

Now, since we have almost reached the end of this interview, I would kindly ask you to tell us how you discovered 1x and what do you think about it as a home base for your work?

I admit it: I discovered it once on Amazon. As I was browsing photo books, I discovered a book put together by the curators at 1x. That was around 2014. Back then there was still this wonderful photo book series. I was electrified, bought the book and became a member. 1x has become a photographic home for me. Hardly a day goes by when I don't visit the website several times.

 

'Basketball'

 

'Woman passing Crosswalk

 

Write
Very interesting article and all excellent photos. Congratulations Yvette and Andy .
Thank you, dear Carmine!
Very good interview and impresive images! Congrats!
Ausgezeichnete Bilder, voller Dynamik und Farbenpracht. Man hat das Gefühl man steht jeweils vor der Szene. Herzlichen Glückwunsch!
Great interview and amazing photos. Big congratulations.
Impressive collection of street photographs. Cuba, with it's own colors and diversity just makes it even more impressive. My sincere congratulations.
Thank you all for your nice comments, friends. I'm really happy.
Great interview and brilliant images, congratulations! <3 <3
Great gallery Andy, love your images!
Amazing images of street photography. Excellent, captivating work! Congratulations, Andy. It is an inspiration to see your images and read the interview and this article.
Congratulations, Andy! Yvette asks very good questions and Andy teplies straight and concentrate. I liked the article a lot!
Thank you Nicoleta ;-)
I felt fortunate to be able to see a compilation of many of Andy's photos along with the interview. There are so many impressive and inspiring pieces. Thank you for this wonderful interview and editing.
Great work. Congratulations!
Excellent street photos Andy, accept my congratulations to wonderful photo work, many thanks Yvette for arranging the interview and publishing it.
Thank you, Miro ... Glad to present a new march in the street photogreaphy world through Andy's interview.
Tolle Bilder! Schön hier so ausführlich über Straßenphotographie lesen zu können!
Congratulations, dear Andy... Thank you so much for your fine collaboration and for sharing your unique street photographs on 1x. I'm proud to present you to our readers. Cheers, Yvette
'Reading' your images is a real treat, Andy. The more you look the more you see gorgeous details.
Shocking images. Excellent work. Congratulations
Part 5 : AI - Ownership and 'authenticity'

Written By Yan Zhang
Published by Yvette Depaepe, the 7th of June 2024

 

"Machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work a man can do.” ~Herbert A. Simon (1965)

In July 2023, I attended in an AI research forum. An Amazon researcher introduced to us several AI projects currently undertaken at Amazon. During the event, we had lunch together. When she learned that I was also a photographer, she bluntly said to me: "Midjourney ended photography!"his statement, her words present the view of many professionals engaged in the cutting-edge research on generative AI. In this article, from the perspectives of both as an AI scientist and as a professional photographer, I try to thoroughly explore the profound impact that generative AI is having on traditional photography; and how we, as photographers, should face it to this challenge.
Next week: Part 6 Outlook - Photography will become more diversified.

 

The Ownership of AI Artworks

Nowadays, it is common knowledge that artists have the copyright to their own artworks, and photographers are no exception. But the emergence of generative AI has shaken people's commonsense.

Currently, there are two opposing attitudes regarding whether AI-generated artworks should have copyright protection.

The reason for opposition is that the artistic pictures generated by AI are not obtained through human creative activities, and (U.S.) copyright law clearly stipulates that only human can have ownership of an artwork.

On September 5, 2023, the U.S. Copyright Office rejected artist Jason M. Allen's application for copyright registration of his AI generated work Theatre D'opera Spatial.

”Theatre D'opera Spatial”. Generated on Midjourney, by Jason M. Allen.
 
 

The Copyright Office concluded that using AI to create art is a "merely mechanical" process with "no place for novelty, invention or originality", and hence not worthy of copyright protection.

However, anyone who knows something about Midjourney would understand that the process of generating an image like Theatre D'opera Spatial is definitely a very creative task. It is said that Jason Allen spent more than 80 hours and used more than 600 promps to generate such a work on Midjourney.

Let’s briefly review the historical process of obtaining copyright protection for photographic works.

In the early 1880s, almost 70 years after the invention of the camera, there was ongoing controversy surrounding whether photographers' photos should be protected by copyright. The common view at the time was that photographs should not be protected by copyright because copyright should cover works that were part of a creative process, rather than a camera simply mechanically capturing whatever reality it was pointed at.

It was not until 1884 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of photographer Napoleon Sarony, holding that his photo of Oscar Wilde should be protected by copyright. Since then, it has been widely accepted that photographers have the ownership of their own photographs (note: ordinary photos, such as snapshots, generally do not have copyright protection).

 


American photographer Napoleon Sarony's work "Oscar Wilde".
In 1884, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Sarony owned the work.
 
 

However, some people believe that we should not directly use the copyright in photography as an example for the case of AI generated artworks. Their reason is that the generative AI model is developed after training on a huge amount of dataset that may include copyrighted artists' works. Therefore, the development process of the AI model itself may violate intellectual property infringement. So, these people believe that no artworks generated by AI models should be protected by copyrightering 2024, as more and more AI artists emerge, and more generative AI is embedded into traditional photography software, there will be more and more demands from AI artists for copyright protection of AI art/photography works.

Regarding this argument, we may only wait for the legal professionals to provide more insights on this issue.

                                                A black and white photograph or an AI generated image?

 


Entering 2024, as more and more AI artists emerge, and more generative AI is embedded into traditional photography software, there will be more and more demands from AI artists for copyright protection of AI art/photography works.

Under such an environment, I believe that relevant copyright laws will eventually be formulated, though this may take a long time.


The Issue of "Content Authenticity"

Another important issue related to generative AI is "content authenticity". With the increasingly widespread applications of generative AI, in practice, we need an effective method to make AI generated images or images containing AI generated elements recognisable or identifiable.

Only by finding and widely implementing this effective method will we be able to distinguish traditional photographs from images combined with AI generated technology, and thus formulate relevant rules according to our needs.

For example, with such recognizability, the above mentioned rule of the mainstream photography competition such as ILP2023: "Restrict the entry of AI generated pictures or pictures containing AI-generated elements" is truly feasible.

The Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) currently led by Adobe provides an overall framework and standards for achieving this goal. Simply speaking, according to CAI's plan, any digital information, such as photos, videos, texts, sounds, etc., will have the essential metadata to indicate its source when it is initially generated. If this information is processed by any AI software, it will also be automatically recorded in metadata. In this way, no matter how this digital information spreads and changes, the metadata information related to it will always accompany it.

In October 2023, DALL-E.3 released by OpenAI took the lead in embedding “content authenticity" tags into the images it generates, taking the first step towards realizing CAI. However, there are still many difficulties from both technology and resource aspects to fully fulfil the goal of CAI, and it is unclear for us to predict when it will be truly popularized.

 

A creative photography work or an AI generated image?
 
 

Mini AI knowledge:
AI ethics - This is an important aspect in the field of AI. With the rapid development and widespread application of generative AI technology, its importance is more prominent than ever.

Since AI will assist or replace some human activities and decisions, and the development of AI systems involves a large amount of data, if the AI system is used improperly or the data used in its development is incorrect (inaccurate), AI will potential dangers to human society.

AI ethics is a set of principles and guidelines about how we should develop and use AI. It usually includes five principles:

- Transparency

- Impartiality

- Accountability

-reliability

- security and privacy

These principles should be incorporated into the development and application of all AI systems

 

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'My surreal and creative vision on photography' by XibiaoHuang

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 6th of June 2024

 

This months' featured exhibition is titled 'My surreal and creative vision on photography'  by XibiaoHuang


Xibiao quotes : Welcome to my photo exhibition! I am an amateur photographer from China who loves surreal and creative images. I strive to turn the impossible into the possible, using my own visual language to convey the theme of my work. It might be satirical, it might be praiseworthy, it might defy the laws of nature, it might tell a story, or it might personify something. In short, if my work resonates with the viewer, then it is a success! 
Creating a successful work requires inspiration. Sometimes I draw inspiration from reading books, discovering, connecting, and reorganizing, which are essential. When synthesizing photos into a composition, it is necessary to have strong skills in image extraction. After the photos are composited, if there are no flaws, the work is basically a success.

 

I invite you to explore Xibiao's surreal and most creative body of work.
This exhibition which will be exposed on our opening page  / 
Gallery during the whole month of June 2024. 
Click here to see the entire exhibition:  [18] My surreal and creative vision on photography by XibiaoHuang (1x.com)

 

To trigger your curiousity, here is a small compilation of images out of this unique exhibition.

 

'The soon to be born performer'

 
 
'phantom'

 
 
'Destruction is a tragedy!'

 
 
'painter'

 
 
'The two of them'
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Bellissimo articolo con fotografie altrettanto eccezionale. Complimenti agli autori.
创意太好了
High class of photography, excellent work, congratulations