Is DALL-E 2 “the death of photography”?


Image: Marco Xu via Pexels

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OpenAI’s image AI DALL-E 2 can also edit images and could possibly compete with Photoshop – if it doesn’t directly replace photography.

DALL-E 2 can generate images and graphics at a high level – from fantastically dreamy to astonishingly photorealistic. This is what OpenAI’s most successful AI system to date is known for.

But when DALL-E 2 was presented, OpenAI showed that the system can also record image inputs and then change or expand these images.

DALL-E 2 could compete with Photoshop

Photographer Nicholas Sherlock fed DALL-E 2 a blurred photo of a ladybug. He then gave the image AI the task of generating a similar image. For this he used the command: “ladybug on a leaf, focused, high-resolution macro photography”. You can see the result in the following picture.

Same same but different. | Image: Nicholas Sherlock via Micael Widell / DALL-E 2

Based on the input photo, DALL-E 2 generated an equivalent, crisp macro photograph of a ladybug. However, the AI ​​system added more dots (DALL-E 2 can’t count) on the ladybug and the insect looks a bit slimmer. So it’s not the same image, just sharper; it is a new, almost identical image.

So if you want to get exactly the motif that was in front of the lens on the beetle’s back point, the DALL-E 2 will obviously not get you there.

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DALL-E 2 generates additional perspectives or paints into existing images

The photographer Micael Widell summarizes this example and other examples DALL-E 2 image processing in a YouTube video (see below) – and is visibly impressed.

Because DALL-E 2 can do even more: e.g. generate several perspectives of the same motif based on a single photo, place further elements credibly in photos (inpainting) – the Photoshop classic – or add an additional area to an existing motif that matches the motif (outpainting) extend.

DALL-E 2 finds many perspectives in one picture.

DALL-E 2 finds many perspectives in one picture. The original input image is at the top left. | Image: Nicholas Sherlock via Micael Widell / DALL-E 2

Widell believes that systems like the DALL-E 2 will one day be able to create perfect photographs of any imaginable subject – and points to the rapid advances in smartphone cameras, among other things.

“If a system like this produces images like this in the first iteration, then you can be damn sure that it will be perfect in ten years,” says the professional photographer. Accordingly, Widell raises the question of what the role of photographers will be in the future, or whether AI could even mean the “death of photography”.


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