Cats and Concrete

Today’s AI generation was too real.

First, I used Adobe’s new Photoshop Beta with this prompt, because it advertised the new Firefly model. The image it produced is bordering on realistic, but the cat is looking illustrative.

“a domestic short hair cat sitting on a window sill with a cherry pie”

What’s great about this is the faux moiré in the window. The AI is generating a photography error that occurs when the pattern of an object and the grid of pixels on the camera’s image sensor are unable to resolve. The moiré it has generated looks like heavy handed clone stamping done by a human. Does the model have examples of bad retouching? How many pictures of windows in the model have a window screen in focus? How many pictures in the model have fixed or unfixed moiré? These are the sort of questions which I imagine are infinite. How many parameters could you request or identify or fix?

Moiré example:

Then we have the same prompt but in the Firefly 3 Beta browser environment:

This image would fit right in on

The cat’s camera left ear is too big. The crust of the pie farthest from the camera is uneven in a synthetic way. The cat’s camera left shoulder feels odd behind the… is it a wall? Wait why is the window sill a table or wall feature? The AI looked at the composition problem and decided that to get the cat and the pie in the shot, it should raise the pie closer to the defining feature of the subject. And it invented this faux table to get there. Maybe the AI reasoned that drawing the whole cat in photorealistic detail would be too difficult, garnering it a bad review. To avoid the failure of a whole cat and a whole pie and a whole window sill, it zoomed in, and placed the pie on a completely unbelievable platform.

Then I tried a New York Times headline to see what the new model was thinking. This is “Some Concrete Reasons Not to Be Totally Panicked“, The New York Times, April 29, 2024, by Gail Collins and Bret Stephens.

This is one of the four initial results. The aesthetic decisions here are so interesting. My parameters were 35mm lens, realistic photo, F1.8. I did not give any reference or do any retouching. This is an emotional picture of blocks of concrete. Right up my alley. The holes on the blocks are seemingly trying to be random and ordered at the same time, hoping to emulate the holes that might appear on a block of concrete used in construction. I also see some of the smaller blocks are mimicking slices of marble. The sun flare is tasteful. The speckles of sunlight hitting the generic brush on the mountainside is delightful. There is even a little pile of broken matter in the foreground, so cute.

I’m wondering about how much this picture looks like a picture I might make. I’d be drawn to this if it existed. The blue shade side of the pile in sharp relief to the warm sunset. Good time of light. The blocks arranged so carefully. A soft touch with such a heavy and brutal material. The blocks sitting tucked into a cozy corner at a site that is quiet. The feeling of the sun setting before a chilly dusk.