AI used to create shockingly realistic portraits of people who don’t exist

A photographer took portraits of people who don’t exist, but were taken with the artificial intelligence (AI) program Dall-E 2

Mathieu Stern, a French photographer, used emerging software not yet readily available to the public to create photo-realistic portraits of fictional people that he documented in a YouTube video.

Stern, who recently series of wild camera designs on the program, began by instructing Dall-E to create an image of “a young beautiful woman wearing a yellow kimono, in a tropical greenhouse.”

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

“Initially, the lack of information about the camera, the lens and the overall look of the image led to unimpressive results,” Stern explains. YouTube

“So to help Dall-E, some details need to be added to the general description, such as the lens, the camera, the film, and some words like bokeh.”

Stern says the best results came after adding the word “Graflex.” The Graflex cameras were large format cameras that were very sharp in the center but with a strong bokeh.

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

The Paris-based photographer says the technology is still very young and requires a lot of trial and error.

“For every test, you have some great results, but you also have some pretty terrible ones.”

Dall-E 2 has difficulty with the subject’s eyes in the photo. So Stern imported the images into Photoshop and used the new neural filters he changes the direction of the eyes to make them look human.

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

Endless possibilities

At one time, Stern had a good grasp of AI’s ‘camera settings’. He could then experiment by changing the model’s age, gender, and ethnicity. Stern can even add face paint or add crazy props like an astronaut’s helmet or elf ears.

The photos don’t even have to contain one person, another person can be added in the frame, or even a pet tiger, iguana or parakeet.

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

However, the “camera settings” can also be changed. Stern was able to change the settings to make the photos look like they were shot on a Polaroid, wet plate collodion, and even a Sigma 85mm 1.8.

“After this experiment, I feel that we have reached a moment in the history of photography that we cannot ignore. Those results are downright insane. This is, in my opinion, one of the most important evolutions of image making since digital photography,” he says.

“I haven’t been this excited about a new technology since I first played with a video game as a kid.”

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

Photorealistic portrait created by AI

Stern’s portraits are not his copyright

Despite the time and effort spent on the project, the works cannot be registered with the US Copyright Office after it determined that AI artwork cannot be copyrighted.


Image Credits: Photos provided courtesy of Mathieu Stern.

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