A photographer tricked the internet with his AI-generated images of old cameras that don’t exist.
Mathieu Stern tells PetaPixel that he generated the fantasy cameras using Midjourney before working on them in Photoshop.
“The build itself only takes less than a minute, what takes time is creating a good prompt, that trial and error part can take hours,” he says.
Users of AI image generators write text prompts to describe the image they would like to see.
Image and language synthesizer
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 Chinese Emperor Qianlong, a true ruler of the Qing dynasty, who “became fascinated with the art of photography.”
“He was particularly enamored with the intricacies of the cameras and the beautiful images they produced,” the AI bot writes.
“The Emperor was so enamored with photography that he ordered his best craftsmen to create a camera entirely out of porcelain.”
The French photographer tells PetaPixel that the general idea of the story was his own but that the ChatGPT language learning model “helped make it a complete story with better structure”.
The fictional story continues: “Artisans worked tirelessly to create a masterpiece that would please the Emperor. They carefully crafted each piece of the camera by hand, using the finest kaolin clay and the most delicate designs. When the camera was done, it was a thing of beauty. 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 he 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 he commissioned several more for his court photographers. Porcelain cameras became the symbol of the Emperor’s love of photography.
Commenters under the post were thrilled with the story. “Very cool,” one person says. “Any chance we can see the pictures they took?”
Knowledgeable observers have noted that the Qianlong Emperor died in 1799, about 40 years before the invention of the first camera.
Stern also created a set of gorgeous art nouveau cameras that he says were designed by art deco architect Hector Guimard and painter Gustav Klimt.
Likewise, 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 her lack of experience designing cameras, Mucha seized this opportunity to create unique designs, incorporating the flowing lines and organic forms of Art Nouveau into his creations.
“Mucha’s designs featured brass frames adorned with intricate mother-of-pearl inlays, and the lenses were made from the finest European glass. To his amazement, “La divine Sarah” loved his work and commissioned other artists to create custom Art Nouveau cameras, such as Hector Guimard and Gustav Klimt.
“Although these artists produced smaller quantities of cameras for Sarah and her friends, their creations 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 designs.
Unfortunately, the cameras are not real. But many said they wished they were so they could get them back.
Other works by Stern can be found on his instagram, Twitterand Youtube.
Picture credits: All images are by Mathieu Stern.