A photographer has fooled the internet with his AI-generated images of antique cameras that don’t exist.
Mathieu Stern tells Peta Pixels who generated the fantasy cameras using Midjourney before working on them in Photoshop.
“The generation itself only takes less than a minute. What takes time is creating a good prompt. This trial-and-error part can take hours,” he says.
Users of AI image generators write text requests to describe the image they would like to see.
Image synthesizer and language
Mathieu Stern used another artificial intelligence (AI) program called ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, to help write a compelling backstory for the cameras.
Stern posted that the “historic” cameras belonged to the Chinese Qianlong Emperor, a real ruler of the Qing Dynasty, who “was fascinated by the art of photography.”
“He was especially in love with the intricacies of the cameras and the beautiful images they produced,” writes the AI robot.
“The emperor was so taken with photography that he ordered his best craftsmen to create a camera made entirely of porcelain.”
The French photographer says Peta Pixels that the overall idea of the story was his, but that the ChatGPT language learning model “helped make it more like a full story with better structure.”
The fictional story continues: “The craftsmen worked tirelessly to create a masterpiece that would please the emperor. They have carefully handcrafted each piece of the camera, using the finest kaolin clay and the most delicate designs. When the camera was done, it was a wonderful thing. The blue and white porcelain shimmered in the light and the intricate designs and details were truly breathtaking.
“The emperor was delighted with the camera and immediately ordered his court photographer to use it to take portraits of him and his court. The resulting images were stunning and the emperor was so pleased with the camera that he ordered several more for his court photographers. Porcelain cameras became a symbol of the Emperor’s love of photography.”
Commenters under the post were mesmerized by the story. “Very nice,” says one person. “Any chance of seeing the photos they took?”
Astute observers noted that the Qianlong Emperor died in 1799, some 40 years before the invention of the first camera.
Stern also created a series of stunning art nouveau cameras that he pretended were designed by art deco architect Hector Guimard and painter Gustav Klimt.
Similarly, Stern used ChatGPT to create a compelling backstory.
“In 1898, the famous French actress Sarah Bernhardt asked her friend and iconic art nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha to design a series of cameras for her wealthy photographer friends. Despite his lack of experience designing cameras, Mucha took the opportunity to create some unique designs, incorporating the flowing lines and organic shapes of Art Nouveau into his creations.
“Mucha’s designs featured brass frames adorned with intricate mother-of-pearl inlays, and the lenses were crafted from the finest European glass. To his amazement, “Divine Sarah” loved her work and asked other artists to create custom art nouveau cameras, such as Hector Guimard and Gustav Klimt.
“Even though these artists produced small quantities of cameras for Sarah and her friends, their designs were equally unique and beautiful. Guimard’s cameras featured elongated, curved frames with geometric patterns, while Klimt’s were adorned with gold leaf and intricate floral motifs.
Unfortunately the cameras are not real. But many have commented that they wish they were so they could collect them.
Image credits: All images by Mathieu Stern.