The AI algorithms and me


photograph by E.M.Schumacher – a scene from the Blindman River in Alberta

‘It was a dark and dreary day, but I didn’t let it stay that way’. That should be my caption for the photo above. I am always drawn to this view but the day and the time of year does not show that. So the image below is what I changed it into;

Digital Art, E.M. Schumacher, 2021

And here it is, with its very strong relationship to abstract painting that I created years ago.

It would have taken me hours and hours to decide which aspect of my ‘style’ to apply to the brightly coloured landscape above, but in mere minutes the Al algorithms of Google’s Deep Dream Generator applied the style of my painting to the photograph to create my digital image.

This app can be used by anyone to create digital art. A background in art is not needed and there is free version available.

For myself, knowing that I can apply the style of an art work that I created myself to my own photographs or my own digital images to create something new where the style remains my own is an amazing outcome. Since I use only my own work I retain the copyright on the resulting imagery.

Anyone who uses images where they do not retain the copyright, even just to style other images, would not retain the copyright on the final digital image that is produced by the Deep Dream Generator.

The deep dream generator also offers monthly paid subscription plans that allow for the generation of a higher number of images as well as higher image resolution, up to 5 mega pixels.

As a visual artist I see this as a tool that will let me experiment while also saving myself some time. After years spent printmaking, drawing and painting, I have many ‘styles’ of my own to work with. But letting an AI algorithm do the work for me has me wondering if this might end up feeling like a lazy way out. That and just how much digital art does the world need right now?

My camera and the birds

A cedar waxwing enjoying the choke cherries.

This year has been one for the record books what with a pandemic that comes complete with masks, social distancing and far too many unknowns.

So like many others I have started to dabble in bird watching, taking along my trusted camera of course. You would think with so many birds around the house it would be easy. But no, as soon as the camera comes out they fly up and away before disappearing into the the tree tops, if they even stay that close.

But like everyone else I need to unglue myself from the screen and get outdoors. I am fortunate to live in the country. If only the birds would cooperate!

We don’t have bird feeders in our yard because our place came complete with a feral cat colony and I feed the cats well enough already. I’m not about to make it any easier for them to decimate the bird population.

I couldn’t help but notice that it is so much easier to get a good bird picture at the neighbours though. The ones who do have bird feeders out. It feels a little like cheating but there is more variety at the feeders. And it does make me appreciate the good shots that I get at home more.

Now that most of our birds have migrated south I expect to be taking lots of pictures of chickadees this winter, if only they will stay still long enough. Happy bird watching everyone.