I’m interested in images of flowers somewhat past their prime. Roses beginning to wilt are especially appealing. There is more poetry in the history of roses whose petals are starting to curl and begin turning brown. The life-force that is in glorious display in roses at their peak is starting to leave, as it must eventually from all living things.
It took about 16 iterations and adjustments to get this image from Midjourney. The Siberian Elm is now considered an invasive tree. It was once considered a replacement for the American Elm, which had been nearly wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease. But no more. However, the bark of the Siberian Elm is believed to have a wealth of good medicinal uses.
Often, sunflower images show the flower rendered with perfect symmetry and perfect shape. Rather, this image shows the sunflower petals a little bit ragged and not exactly symmetrical. One can imagine this sunflower as having been blown around a bit in a wind. I think this sunflower corresponds a bit more to “real life.” I imagine this sunflower as embodying more than the usually pictured “perfect” bloom – It’s not perfect; it exhibits some “wear and tear” yet retains the essence of the ideal sunflower.
The Midjourney A.I. allows an image to be interpreted (actually, created) in the style of something or someone. This led me to an experiment that I hoped would produce interesting results. I had the A.I. produce a series of images styled according to well-known artists modern and contemporary artists. Every image started with the simple prompt, Photo in the style of ____ of a country scene,Fujifilm GFX 100 fullscreen camera,40mm f16–ar 4:3–chaos 50 –s 50. (Midjourney produces 4 images for each prompt. The chaos parameter tells the A.I. the degree to which I want them to be different.) None of the images were reprocessed in any way. The process is entirely in the hands of the A.I. This includes visualizing a country scene, and applying what the A.I. knows of the artist specified.
Midjourney is often thought to be among the top two or three A.I. art and design programs. (I think DALL-E 2. is the only close competitor.) Midjourney is particularly helpful in areas of digital design including architecture, interior design, product design, garden planning, and the like. For me, the best use of Midjourney (or other similar A.I.) is for what I call “Playing with Intention“.
Playing with intention is not exclusive to other instrumental uses of Midjourney. One can, for instance, engage in intentional playing in the course of specific design projects such as in architecture. “Playing with Intention” is first “Playing.” We give free rein to the imagination and see what we get. But we develop a prompt thoughtfully. And we pay attention to the results, considering any ideas it stimulates, or further image exploring that it suggests.
Several writers have made comments addressing this “playing with intention.”
- It’s a way to exercise the creative mind and explore self-expression. -Tim Tadder
- It’s to expand one’s imaginative powers. -David Holz
- It’s to help one get out of creative ruts. It’s for creative inspiration. -Robert Hansen
The final three images are Midjourney images inspired by Picasso’s Woman Looking in Mirror. Before that are two images from Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Before that, we just let Midjourney go wild with simple geometric prompts.
Midjourney has become the most widely used A.I. for digital image creation in the world. Hence, there is a wealth of resources for Midjourney and articles about using Midjourney. Articles that discuss the pros and cons of digital image making with an I.A. most often use Midjournney for examples and themes.
The best resource for Midjourney that I have found is the encyclopedic A.I.Tutorials at aituts.com. It’s free, and you don’t have to actually take a tutorial; the comprehensive listings of commands and parameters, and extensive examples of prompts – organized by area of application – are all extremely useful.
In the area of general resources not limited to one or another A.I., I have found Fstoppers – a photography website – to be packed with articles about A.I.
FStoppers is a great traditional photography site devoted to publishing articles about photography, opinion about photographic developments, papers that provide help and insight into modern photography, reviews, and tips about getting good photographs. There are numerous articles on FStoppers about A.I. digital image-making vs. traditional photography. All points of view are represented. Here are several good papers.
Adapt or Perish: AI Is to Digital What Digital Was to Analog is an interesting paper by Robert Baggs. Among his comments, Baggs writes:
“How is AI similar to the digital photography revolution? Well, it isn’t quite yet, but it’s close. AI in photography post-production (and video too) has been creeping in regularly. Where we used to have to make painstakingly complex selections of subjects in Photoshop by hand, now we can press a button for the same results in a fraction of the time. This is just one of many examples. However, as every writer in most sectors has discussed in the past year, AI is growing and improving at a rate of knots and to a frightening degree. Within the next 5 years, I suspect AI will be embedded in damn-near everything, prompt-based image generation such as Midjourney will be almost indistinguishable from real images, and ChatGPT (or similar software) will legitimately replace many tasks in their entirety.”
Michelle Van Tine has an article in FStoppers in which she interviews Robert Hansen, Photography, CGI, and AI: Can You Tell the Difference? An Interview With Steve Hansen. Steve Hansen, a widely known and respected food photographer, approaches the question mainly from the perspective of commercial photography. Hansen says:
“As for AI, Hansen expressed that it helps him get out of creative ruts: “I use AI for creative inspiration. Throwing data at it and seeing what comes back at me kind of triggers some creative response in my head.”
Hansen’s own site includes a section called Explorations with A.I. It includes many examples of images digitally created with A.I.
/Also in FStoppers, Michelle Van Tine interviews Tim Tadder. Tadder is one of the world’s leading commercial photographers. His work has been characterized as bold, and inventive. On the subject of A.I. Tadder has been using an A.I. to generate images. He has embraced it (Tadder uses Midjouney.) He has been attacked and vilified by the photography establishment, which is why Van Tine’s article is titled “AI Photography: A Fed-up Tim Tadder Sets the Record Straight.”
Van Tine writes:
For him, it’s a way to exercise his creative mind and explore self-expression. Over the decades, he has transitioned from film to digital, to CGI, to Photoshop composites. With the development of a new creative medium, is it any surprise that a photographer heralded for his boundary-pushing work is exploring it?
In the interview, Tadder says:
It’s a cohesive choice that I’m directing this tool with my vision and my sensibility. AI didn’t sit down and spit out images for me. I sat down and labored over the images for hours and hours and hours, and then I curated it, and then I fed it back into AI, and then I pushed it further, and then I mixed this image and this image in Photoshop and put it back into AI and had it regenerate it. I went through a process.
The interview with Tadder was recorded. The video can be found here.
Forbes has provided some interesting articles about Image creation with an A.I. Here is an article from Forbes, way back in January 2023 (!) all about Midjourney, Midjourney AI Based Art Generator Creates Dazzling Images From Words, by TJ McCue. This is very informative Although somewhat dated, this article provides useful information on the development of Midjourney.
In another Forbes article, Midjourney Founder David Holz On The Impact Of AI On Art, Imagination And The Creative Economy, Midjourney founder David Holz makes the following statement:
We like to say we’re trying to expand the imaginative powers of the human species. The goal is to make humans more imaginative, not make imaginative machines, which I think is an important distinction.
And the following:
My stuff is not made for professional artists. If they like to use it, then that is great. My stuff is made for like people who, like, there’s this woman in Hong Kong, and she came to me, and she goes, “The one thing in Hong Kong that your parents never want you to be is an artist, and I’m a banker now. I’m living a good banker life. But with Midjourney now I’m actually starting to get a taste of this experience of being the person I actually wanted to be.” Or a guy at the truck stop who’s making his own baseball cards with wild Japanese styles, just for fun. It’s made for those people, because, like most people, they don’t ever get to do these things.
It’s important to emphasize that this is not about art. This is about imagination. Imagination is sometimes used for art but it’s often not. Most of the images created on Midjourney aren’t being used professionally. They aren’t even being shared. They’re just being used for these other purposes, these very human needs.
Finally, Robert Baggs in his FStoppers article, refers to the work of artist Tim Tader. Tader is a leading (mostly) commercial artist. I was unaware of him until now, but his work just burst into my consciousness. He does traditional photography, sometimes mixes it with paint, and also does A.I. image development. Tader’s work with this technology (he uses Midjourney) is just remarkable. (I have to say that it’s obvious my MidJourney skills have quite a long way to go!)
Forbes magazine has a provocative interview with Midjourney founder, David Holz: “Midjourney Founder David Holz On The Impact Of AI On Art, Imagination And The Creative Economy”
Holz says Midjourney is designed to unlock the creativity of ordinary people by giving them tools to make beautiful pictures just by describing them…. “We like to say we’re trying to expand the imaginative powers of the human species. The goal is to make humans more imaginative, not make imaginative machines, which I think is an important distinction.”