AI Can't Do This

AI Can't Do This

The AI creations we get presented with on social media are getting increasingly ridiculous. A massive tornado over a deep canyon? Bring it on. A burning furnace of ash and embers over the coast? Yes, please. Or really? All those concoctions are missing one essential ingredient. Ok, not just one. But in this article, I'll focus on what I think is the most important piece AI images are missing.

It's fun playing around with prompts and witnessing what an AI dreams up based on your input. There's also skill involved in prompt engineering. Imagination is also required to guide the AI. Is this art? It doesn't matter if it is—the AI images I see leave me cold and disconnected. Even those attempting to maintain realism don't convey the same emotions as actual landscape photos.

But why is that? The editing applied to real photos is also often over the top, and the depicted landscapes can lose their identity in the process. Some argue my photos are like that because I sometimes give them a dreamy look.

Dramatic sky and sea at the Phare de Men Ruz in Ploumanach, France. Although this view might look like from a fantasy book, it's there for everybody to witness in person.

The difference is that even edited photos still show real places. It's the only reason I am still on social media and follow other photographers. Their work inspires me and creates a longing to visit those places someday. And even if that's not possible because I don't have the funds, I still imagine how it would be standing at those viewpoints.

With AI images, that's not the case. There's no sense of awe, no longing, no marveling about the beauty of our world. What's there is curiosity about the involved algorithms and models, the engineering it took to arrive at the current state of AI, and wondering where this is heading. I couldn't care less about what the prompt engineers were trying to achieve with those prompts.

Even the AI creations that try to masquerade as real views are often just caricatures separated from reality, and I don't know if that'll ever change.

The Lower Tama Lake and Mount Ruapehu emerge from the clouds. It took me an 18-km round trip hike, and a lot of patience, waiting for the clouds to lift, to capture this photo. An experience I'll never forget. This view is something that any visitor to the Tongariro National Park can experience.

I hope this is just a phase and people will realize AI cannot replace the experiences involved in capturing photos of actual places. Being out in nature, facing the elements, dealing with failure, and then witnessing those sweet moments when everything falls into place—it's what landscape photography is about.

The number of likes for AI creations will eventually decrease as people get increasingly annoyed by being fooled by them. You already see this in the comment sections. For me, there will always be more value in real photography. Edited or not? It doesn't matter as long as the photos can take me on a journey to the portrayed locations.

Michael Breitung's picture

Michael Breitung is a freelance landscape and travel photographer from Germany. In the past 10 years he visited close to 30 countries to build his high quality portfolio and hone his skills as a photographer. He also has a growing Youtube channel, in which he shares the behind the scenes of his travels as well as his knowledge about photo editing.

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I agree that the real place and time is just that real!

This article was brought to you courtesy of chatGPT v4 =p. No, in all seriousness, I wholeheartedly agree with the author. AI generated photography is gimmicky and likely a trend that will fade into obscurity.

If you have no awe or marveling at the current state of AI, then I would suggest you are bereft of future-forward thinking and simple prediction. History is full of people who got it wrong. The difference between photography and AI image generation will not be whether one can discern a difference, it will simply be #truth vs #fiction (just like CGI is today). And, as in literature, #fiction often holds more awe than #truth - no matter the state of reality.

Better read closely: "What's there is curiosity about the involved algorithms and models, the engineering it took to arrive at the current state of AI, and wondering where this is heading." I am a Software Developer and those things interest me a lot. But Theres No awe about the Pictures.

It will. Give it some time and it's going to get much better, soon.

It doesn't matter. Travel photography is my own thing. It's all about making the most of the moment and circumstances. That's the challenge. And the experience in it. AI can never replace that! AI has no soul. It will soon result in people being not impressed by anything. Except for those who appreciate realness.

Yes and no. In the future, anyone will be able to take photos, play music or create art. The difference is that AI will be so good that no one will care except for the person who wants to do it and maybe a few friends and family. But no one will probably be able to make a living at it - so no more Picassos, Henri Cartier-Bressons, Led Zeppelins, etc. because the public won't be interested.

I agree, for the most part, that the experience is worth more than the photo. AI for me won't replace the actual sights, sounds, smells and feel of photographing a waterfall in the mountains. But it's the future generations I wonder about.

I'd like to convince you that back when I was a kid, I trudged through three feet of snow, two miles to school, in a pair of Keds shoes. Well... that's not entirely true. In fact, my dad usually dropped me off at school on his way to work. But one thing I remember for sure is that neither my brother nor I spent a lot of time indoors complaining about having nothing to do. As a pre-schooler, I could entertain myself for hours outdoors on a big pile of dirt with my toy trucks. I had a great imagination. My children, now in their early forties, also spent a lot of time outdoors making up games with the neighborhood kids. I had fun too when those water guns were invented which could shoot a stream of water about 30 feet, or a game of outdoor nighttime hide-and-seek.

But does it not scare anyone that young children today live on their electronic devices? Maybe I worry for no reason and the first-graders today will develop an excitement for the experience of the journey itself, but all I see are kids preoccupied in the back seat of the family sedan for 500 miles with a video game. Cultural changes take time, as in generations, but I suspect AI and all of its ramifications for replacing real human experience with machine-made results (and doing the thinking for us), will find fertile ground in today's young people.

Well put. I find myself in a very similar perspective.

Photographers feel something when they take a photo. . AI has no feeling to put into the picture like a photographer. The AI does not get satisfaction from making a picture that a photographer has,

It is like a Rolls Royce or a mass produced Honda, a Leica or a plastic Canon, or a Fstoppers articleor a Petapixel one. The second ones do the job but the first ones are so much better.

You do know that AI creates images based on photos that people take? Digital photos are simply a bunch of ones and zeros on a computer. If you're convinced that the digital files on your computer can transmit feelings, then AI will be able to do it too.