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AI & Alternative Processes: can there be synergy?


AI generated old film cameras

Mathieu Stern AI cameras



In the ever-evolving world of photography, traditional darkroom processes hold a special place. The alchemy of chemicals, enlargers, and manual techniques has long been cherished by artists seeking to express their vision. However, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), a new realm of possibilities has emerged, offering artists unique opportunities to enhance their practice, research, grant applications, and various aspects of their professional lives. In this article, we will delve into the potential synergies between AI and AP artists, showcasing how artists can leverage this technology to unlock their creative potential.


AI & Photoshop Even if an artists produces an image in the darkroom does not mean that said image can't subsequently be edited and enhanced in an editing software. Editing platforms like Adobe Photoshop or Topaz Labs provide a wide range of AI filters and effects that can be applied to darkroom prints. These tools utilise advanced algorithms to enhance textures, colors, and add ethereal elements, enabling artists to create unique and visually captivating outcomes. For example, Adobe Photoshop's Neural Filters allow artists to experiment with AI-powered effects like style transfer, colorization, or adding depth to their images. By exploring these platforms, artists can discover new ways to push their creative boundaries and infuse their prints with a fresh artistic perspective.

Neural Filters on Photoshop The Smart Portrait filter on Photoshop simplifies complex portrait editing workflows in a few simple steps. It adjusts portraits creatively by generating new elements for Happiness, Surprise, Anger, Facial Age, Gaze, Hair Thickness, Head Direction, and Light Direction.

The Smart Portrait filter on Photoshop simplifies complex portrait editing workflows in a few simple steps. It adjusts portraits creatively by generating new elements for Happiness, Surprise, Anger, Facial Age, Gaze, Hair Thickness, Head Direction, and Light Direction.



AI-powered Image Recognition Tools: AI-powered image recognition tools, such as IBM Watson Visual Recognition or Clarifai, offer artists the ability to analyze photographs and extract valuable information. These tools can be leveraged in the following ways:

  • Analyze specific photographs or styles to understand composition, lighting techniques, color palettes, and other visual elements that contribute to their impact.

  • Compare different photographs to identify common themes, techniques, or artistic influences.

  • Utilize AI-generated metadata or tags to categorize and organize their own image collections, facilitating efficient searchability and referencing.

Here some examples: Google Cloud Vision API offers a powerful image recognition and analysis platform. It utilizes deep learning models to understand and interpret images. Artists can leverage this tool to extract valuable information from photographs, such as identifying objects, detecting landmarks, recognizing text, or even assessing emotional expressions. IBM Watson Visual Recognition is a comprehensive image recognition platform that utilizes AI algorithms. It enables artists to analyze and categorize images based on visual content, identify objects, recognize faces, and even understand the overall sentiment or concepts portrayed in the photographs. Clarifai is an AI-powered platform that offers a range of image recognition capabilities. Artists can utilize this tool to analyze images, identify objects, detect colors, understand visual concepts, and generate relevant tags or metadata associated with the photographs. Exploring historical references While search engines like Google or Bing provide general search results based on keywords, AI platforms such as Google's Arts & Culture offer a more specialized and focused approach when it comes to exploring historical references in photography. Here are a few key ways in which AI platforms differ: Targeted Search Results: AI platforms dedicated to art and culture, like Google's Arts & Culture, are designed to prioritize and deliver relevant results related to photography and visual arts. These platforms curate and organize content specifically for artists and art enthusiasts, ensuring that search results are tailored to the field of interest. Contextual Information: AI platforms often provide additional contextual information about the artworks, photographers, and historical periods. This can include detailed descriptions, historical context, critical analysis, and insights from experts in the field. Such information helps artists gain a deeper understanding of the photographs and their significance within the broader historical and artistic context. AI-generated Recommendations: AI platforms analyze user preferences, search history, and behavior patterns to generate personalized recommendations. These recommendations can introduce artists to new photographers, styles, or periods they may not have considered before. By leveraging AI-generated recommendations, artists can uncover hidden gems and expand their knowledge beyond what traditional search engines might offer.

Generating AI images on MIDJOURNEY Midjourney is an AI platform that specializes in providing AI-based solutions and tools for photographers and artists. Midjourney has recently sparked controversy with their approach to generating images by allegedly "stealing" artworks from artists. This contentious issue has raised concerns within the artistic community and beyond. Critics argue that Midjourney's practice of utilizing existing artworks without proper consent or compensation infringes upon the rights and livelihoods of artists. The ethical implications of this approach are hotly debated, as it raises questions about intellectual property, artistic integrity, and fair compensation. The controversy surrounding Midjourney's actions has ignited a larger conversation about the balance between technological advancements, creative expression, and the ethical treatment of artists.

AI generated cyanotype print

This for example, is a cyanotype generated by AI. When providing directions to Midjourney to create specific results, it's important to be as precise and detailed as possible. Clearly describe the result you want, provide visual examples, mention technical parameters and specify all creative preferences. Remember, while Midjourney strives to generate accurate and relevant results, it may not always perfectly align with your specific vision. Be open to creative surprises and adaptations, and embrace the platform's unique capabilities to explore new possibilities within your artistic practice.


What Midjourney can do:

  1. AI-Assisted Editing and Enhancement: Although Midjourney's main emphasis is on digital photography, artists working with analogue processes can still benefit from the platform's AI-assisted editing and enhancement tools. Artists can scan their analogue prints or negatives and digitize them before uploading to Midjourney. The platform's AI algorithms can then be utilized to enhance and improve the digital versions of the analogue images. This may involve AI-based noise reduction, color correction, sharpness enhancement, or other image enhancement techniques to optimize the digital representation of the analogue photographs.

  2. Inspiration and Learning: The platform showcases a wide range of creative work from photographers around the world. Artists working with analogue processes can explore the digital portfolios and projects shared on Midjourney for inspiration, research and learning on the AI fenomena. By studying different styles, techniques, and approaches, artists can expand their artistic horizons and gain insights that can be applied to their own analogue practice.

  3. Hybrid Approaches: Combining analogue and digital techniques can be interesting: Scanning negatives or prints and incorporating digital elements or digitally manipulating overlays can result in fascinating outcomes. Midjourney can provide valuable tools and resources for artists looking to integrate AI-based processes into a hybrid workflow, offering new possibilities for creative expression.

I will share another article on how artists can use chatGPT to make their professional lives more efficient. In our newsletter, we sometimes focus on more practical examples, sign up here!
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