December 4, 2022

Fotograpiya

Capturing Magic Moments

This photographer used AI to create these exquisite images of Joan of Arc

6 min read

This photographer used AI to create these exquisite images of Joan of Arc

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making a lot of headlines lately. According to popular belief, it will likely destroy art, photography and the creative industries as we know them. But is that the whole story? Maybe we’re missing something here. Surely there is a downside to all the doom and gloom?

Well, photographer and digital artist Chris Koeppen may indeed have found that silver lining. Chris, who goes by the creative moniker An Ethereal Fire, used AI for good, not evil. He has used AI imaging with text prompts to enhance his creative output and recently created this series of extraordinary composite images based on the legendary Joan of Arc. Chris took the time to chat with DIYP about how he created them and where he sees the future of photography and AI.

The creative process

The inspiration behind the series came directly from Chris’ clients. “With all my art, my goal is to combine what my clients are with what they love,” says Chris. “Some clients come to me and say they just want to look beautiful, others want to tell a story and express their creativity. adriana [his client] approached me with a story of Joan of Arc with four scenes she had written herself: A Call to Arms, Warmonger, The Weight of Death and The New Life. This story was then expertly brought to life by Chris.

This photographer used AI to create these exquisite images of Joan of Arc

A Call to Arms © An ethereal fire

“We have an in-depth interview with each of my clients where I learn more about them, what is important to them, who they are and what I want their shoot to represent,” explains Chris.

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It was left to Chris to work out the details, although they discussed exactly what the general mood should be. “We determined how each image should ‘feel’ before the shoot,” says Chris, “and throughout the shoot we focused on posing in a way that evokes that.” Because Chris had so much creative freedom , he was able to develop how the story was told and how it developed during the shoot.

This photographer used AI to create these exquisite images of Joan of Arc

Warmonger ©An ethereal fire

The photography

The images were created using a combination of traditional studio photography, Photoshop compositing and AI image generation. Chris shot the subject in the studio against an all-black background using a strobe in a 70″ parabolic mirror as the light source.

Chris mainly shoots with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a Rokinon 35 f/1.4mm lens. For lighting, he used an Alien Bee 800, a 70-inch parabolic screen, with a V-Flat for shadow-filling.

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AI as a helpful creative tool

After photographing the subject, Chris set about creating the backgrounds. For this he mainly used the text-to-image generating AI software Midjourney with carefully defined prompts.

My compositions in these works use between 6 and 24 classic paintings mixed together to create the environment combined with digital hand painting to blend everything together.

– Chris Koppen

This photographer used AI to create these exquisite images of Joan of Arc

The Weight of Death ©An Ethereal Fire

“The third image in this series, The Weight of Death, is where the AI ​​comes into play. The foreground and the area around the subject are all classic artwork and hand-painted, but the further we get back towards the castle, the more the AI ​​takes over,” says Chris.

Death’s body form, the castle itself, and Hell’s Gate are all AI generations made in Midjourney. They were upscaled to gigapixels, painted over, then upscaled again (to get the dimensions large enough for the canvas sizes Chris uses (typically around 10,000px on the long edge at 300dpi). Each asset was rendered separately, but with a similar prompt as Base to get a reasonably consistent look.

“AI is an incredibly unique new art form that comes with a very intense discussion about its validity in the art space,” says Chris. “Personally, I’m excited how it will help artists as a starting point and give people like me the ability to render assets needed for compositing without having to try and find something on a stock site,” he continues.

AI can be an amazing tool, but don’t let it do the talking. Art is so important and the human element behind it gives emotion and life. Integrate AI, but don’t let it consume it. Use it as a tool to tell stories and evoke feelings in your audience by mixing it with your artistic voice.

– Chris Koppen

“I’m sure this will cause its own controversy at some point in the future as stock sites are a thriving business structure and may need to adjust to the notion that many of us will not benefit from them.”

This photographer used AI to create these exquisite images of Joan of Arc

Life anew © An ethereal fire

Chris goes on to explain that his goal with AI is to use it as a tool in his belt to create better works of art that might not have been seen before. “I have a deep love and fascination for classic Western art,” he says, “but it saddens me that it doesn’t tell stories of people of all genders, races and sexual orientations. There is such a wide spectrum of unique beauty that we are currently seeing in our world that has existed for far longer than art has revealed.

“With AI, I can more easily explore what Albert Bierstadt-style feudal Japan might have looked like, or how Lawrence Alma-Tadema might have painted the interior of a Chinese shrine. While these are fairly simple examples, I’m excited to see what comes next as the AI ​​learns to interpret old styles even better and I can use them as a creative tool to tell more stories.”

And it is precisely this use and opening of borders that is exciting when it comes to AI. Now we’re able to unlock a whole world of visual ideas that couldn’t be fully realized before. Instead of doing the work for creatives, AI can actually improve creative work and open up a wealth of possibilities. Sure, there will be copyright issues to sort out and there will be casualties, but the AI ​​is here. It will not go away.

For anyone looking to get into the world of AI and incorporate it into their images, Chris has some advice:

“Images generated in AI (currently) have a native dpi of 72, so printing the files requires upscaling outside of the original image,” he says. “Before you go ahead and generate hundreds of images, you should have a plan on how you’re going to upscale and make them sustainable for clients who want to use these artworks outside of social media.”

“My second piece of advice is that AI can be an amazing tool, but don’t let it speak for itself. Art is so important and the human element behind it gives emotion and life. Integrate AI, but don’t let it consume it. Use it as a tool to tell stories and evoke feelings in your audience by merging them with your artistic voice.”

I think Chris is absolutely right here. Ultimately, we should think of AI as another tool in the box. Disruptions will certainly occur, but change is a constant and we should not fear it. The future may still contain meaningful artistic endeavors even if it includes AI.

Chris certainly feels the same optimism and says he’s really fortunate to have a large and loyal client base who trust him when creating art for them. “I can create art that gives peace to my soul to make a living,” he says. It really doesn’t get much better. Next year is going to be an exciting year as Chris plans to travel from LA and tour with his sessions, bringing his creativity to new people who haven’t had the chance to work with him yet.

You can see more of Chris’ work on his website or follow him on Instagram Twitter.

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