artificial intelligence – Stuck in Customs

40 Street Photos From 4,000 years of Time Travel

I had a pretty interesting idea for a set of AI creations. I was working on some of my Great Wall of China photos, and I was thinking, gods this would be an interesting place to time-travel to and take photos! But then I thought, hey would if I could also go back to ancient Japan, Moscow in the 50s, Iran in the 70s (before Sharia law required women to cover their shameful and sinful bodies), India in the 1800s, all the way back to Cairo in 2000BC, etc. Anyway, that is the origin of this idea.

I did all sorts of locations and timelines. I also used different camera parameters, different lenses, different camera settings, all of which you can set in the AI. I’m really happy with the results!

Before I share these new AI creations, perhaps you’d like to see some of my recent AI thematic creations. Enjoy!

60 Stills from a Wes Anderson Sci-Fi Film That Doesn’t Exist
32 Nonexistent People At Burning Man
20 Entities I Encountered And Inspirations From DMT Reality
27 Tribes From Remote Villages In Papua New Guinea That No One Has Ever Seen
31 Burning Man art installations at Burning Man that do not exist

BTW, I started up a new AI Instagram @Trairatcliff account so I could keep my main Instagram more with traditional photography. Be one of the first to join! And tell your friends, but only the cool ones… not the energy vampire friends you are trying to get rid of. 🙂


Sample Prompt

I’m using Midjourney version 4 for these. It’s a command-line interface via Discord to communicate with the AI:

“street photography in the 1880s in London, 40mm, Extremely Detailed, professional photography –v 4 –ar 3:2”

Here are the 40 “Street Photos” below – I did add captions to each one so you can see the time period and the location. I don’t usually add captions because I am kinda lazy, so, enjoy! 🙂

There are also many little things to notice if you look closely. I’m especially impressed at the way the clothes fall and “wrinkle” around the bodies… amongst countless other details.

(All captions above photos) – Woman in 1950s Moscow

People outside of a cafe in 1820 Tokyo

London in the 1880s

Man contemplating life in Moscow early 1900s

Rome in 50BC

Kyoto in the late 1600s

Tehran in 1975

Jerusalem in 100AD

Los Angeles in 1985

San Francisco in the 70s

Austin in 1910

Delhi in 1930

Great Wall in 1200

Edinburgh in 1940

Osaka in 1810

LA in 1978

San Francisco in 1960

Chengdu in 1940

London in 1890

Mumbai in 1975

Cairo in 2000BC

Sydney in 1975 (looks pretty much the same today)

Beijing in 1965

St. Petersburg in 1965

Tokyo in 1955

Beijing in 1920

Los Angeles in 1951

London in 1860

Tokyo in 1935

Los Angeles in 1943

London in 1880

Tokyo in 1850

Chicago in 1930

Okinawa in 1910

Rome in 200BC

Queenstown, New Zealand in 2050

Osaka in 1960

London 1870

San Francisco in 1959

Chicago in 1965

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20 Entities I Encountered and Inspirations from DMT reality

Well this is a larger topic that I’ll touch on in an upcoming podcast, and most people will have no idea wtf I am talking about, but that’s okay, because you’ll perhaps enjoy the art anyway. The TL;DR is that when you are experiencing a DMT rush, either via Ayahuasca or Changa, you often encounter and interact with entities. Weird, right? That doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Anyhoo, the entities by and large are female. They are sometimes insectoid or alien-like. Some are “Machine Elves” (which inspired my Machine Elf fractal creations). I get a lot of “jesters” or clowns, which only happens about 6% of the time according to this scientific study. See, I’m not crazy. Or am I? I’ll ask the entities next time.

Also, if you didn’t click that 6% link above – I HIGHLY recommend it. You may be skeptical, but scroll down and read some of the commonality of experiences.

What do you “chat” about with these entities, you wonder? Well, whatever you want! It’s mostly them appearing and talking to you telepathically. They’ll often tell you things you’re clearly doing wrong in your life, help you solve problems, or sometimes they just fuck around with you and have fun. It can be jarring to some people, especially if you’re kind of a high-anxiety person with a lot of fear in your life. But that is not me. I do have the jester/clowns goof around a lot with me which can be hilarious. Overall, though, you get a message that is very serene as they tell you, “Everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be.” I suppose that is reassuring as a clown is laughing in your face with cartoon fangs.

Before I share these new AI creations, perhaps you’d like to see some of my recent AI thematic creations. Enjoy!

60 Stills from a Wes Anderson Sci-Fi Film That Doesn’t Exist
32 Nonexistent People At Burning Man
27 Tribes From Remote Villages In Papua New Guinea That No One Has Ever Seen
31 Burning Man art installations at Burning Man that do not exist

BTW, I started up a new AI Instagram @Trairatcliff account so I could keep my main Instagram more with traditional photography. Be one of the first to join! And tell your friends, but only the cool ones… not the energy vampire friends you are trying to get rid of. 🙂


Sample Prompt

I’m using Midjourney version 4 for these (recently upgraded with new aspect ratios – yay!), although I play with all the AI tools. It’s a command-line interface via Discord to communicate with the AI:

“A symmetrical unexpected female Indian goddess entity I encountered on DMT, full body, DMT-inspired psychedelic background –v 4 –ar 2:3”

These images below are mostly entities I’ve seen or slight inspirations thereof. Dude, it’s really hard to describe. If you’ve been in here with me, I can tell you are smiling right now.. Well, grab your popcorn and enjoy the trip!

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60 Stills from a Wes Anderson Sci-Fi Film That Doesn’t Exist

I’ve been having a little too much fun with AI lately. I decided to combine it with my love for Wes Anderson films!

This is another quirky setting. Wes has never done a Science Fiction movie before, so I thought this would be an interesting territory to explore. This is a fun futuristic (and retro) world that is run by adorable Bonobo monkeys as they establish a dominant matriarchy in space.

Most people don’t know about the Bonobos, but it is the only monkey species that is run by females. So, the monkey troupes don’t even fight against one another. It’s usually settled through sex. I stayed away from monkey-orgies in this one (I did think about it), but there are a few other species competing for power in space. Hmmm… which one should Owen Wilson be? How about Ed Norton and Anjelica Houston? I’ve modeled a bunch of different Bonobos and they look really cool… will share those soon.

Anyway, before we get into the “stills” from the film, here are three other recent AI posts that are quite a bit different that you may enjoy.

32 Nonexistent People At Burning Man
27 Tribes From Remote Villages In Papua New Guinea That No One Has Ever Seen
31 Burning Man art installations at Burning Man that do not exist

BTW, I started up a new AI Instagram @Trairatcliff account so I could keep my main Instagram more with traditional photography. Be one of the first to join! And tell your friends, but only the cool ones… not the energy vampire friends you are trying to get rid of. 🙂


More about this Wes Anderson Project

I notice in responses on Instagram and Facebook that people are really curious about how I make these. I’ll do a tutorial at some point when I’m not imagining Bill Murray as a beaten-down cuck-monkey, but for now I can give you a little bit of background.

I generated about 1,000 different movie stills using many series of prompts (mostly failing ones) to communicate with the AI. Out of those 1,000, I chose my favorites and upscaled about 60 of them. How long did this whole thing take? Just about a day. I mean, I work really fast and I kind of have this stuff figured out, but it still didn’t take that long at all.

There was difficulty in getting EXACTLY the shots and angles I wanted, but many were close enough. For example, I had trouble getting a bunch of good shots of the spaceships traveling in deep space. I finally kind of ran out of steam around midnight. I’m sure if I had more time I could get them right, but perfection is the enemy of progress. Or something like that. Besides, I’m just playing around and experimenting.

It took about 2-3 hours to generate about a thousand frames and create new AI command combinations to get the sorts of shots I wanted.

End of Traditional Concept Artists?

Errr, well, yes, I suppose. Actually, I see a future where existing concept artists “rough out” a scene then use it as a reference JPG for the AI. And then they can use a series of words (see below) to communicate with the AI to get all sorts of different results. This will be one of the biggest “professions” to be dismantled by AI, which is too bad, because I LOVE good concept artists. I follow so many from Star Wars to LOTR – well – you name it. All hardcore geeks LOVE concept artists. But, you know, what are you gonna do? Sure, maybe AI right now can’t do as good of a job as some of the greats, but it’s pretty goddamned creative and it’s only gonna get better.

Sample Prompt

I’m using Midjourney version 4 for these, although I play with all the AI tools. It’s a command-line interface via Discord to communicate with the AI:

“A Wes Anderson Science Fiction stop-motion film inside a spaceship’s medical bay with characters as cute bonobo monkeys + 40mm anamorphic + cinematic shot + symmetry + tonal colors + cross-processing + childish friendly feel + the feel of a dollhouse feel + soothing + playful –ar: 2:1”

Well, grab your popcorn and enjoy the movie!


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32 Nonexistent People at Burning Man

Well, I’ve been going a little crazy with this unusual form of “photography” where I sit behind a computer without a lens rather than a computer with a lens. I’ve always thought about my high-end cameras as computers that just happen to have a lens attached. Most of the smarts are inside the camera, and most of the “visions” of the photo come from my mind. The only shortcoming to that is I actually have to get my body to a location in a time and place to make it happen. Please note I still love regular photography, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. But I do quite like the idea of just visualizing very interesting images and communicating with an artificial intelligence to describe the kind of shot I’d like to see.

I went through a similar thought process when I started drone photography. I was basically holding a computer in my hands with a screen, and I would tell the drone where to go. The lens did not have to be a few inches from my head. That opened up a 180 degree hemisphere of 2-4km around me where I could take almost any photo I wanted. Now, with AI, it’s kind of the next-level, where the lens is actually inside the computer.

I’m a very visual person (in my head too), so I spent a long time doing a “dance” with an AI so that we could understand one another better. There have been many failures, but here are some of the successes. I recently did two other posts:

31 Burning Man art installations at Burning Man that do not exist
27 Tribes From Remote Villages In Papua New Guinea That No One Has Ever Seen

BTW, I started up a new AI Instagram @Trairatcliff account so I could keep my main Instagram more with traditional photography. Be one of the first to join! And tell your friends, but only the cool ones… not the energy vampire friends you are trying to get rid of. 🙂



After those initial mini-projects, mentioned in the post above, I am finally figuring out how to get realistic-looking people at Burning Man wearing rather amazing costumes.

I’m using Midjourney version 4 for these, although I play with all the AI tools. It’s a command-line interface via Discord to communicate with the AI. Here is a sample query for one of the photos. If you haven’t used Discord, this will look confusing. Even if you are an expert at Discord (like me!), well, it still takes a while to get the hang of it. I should make a tutorial or something. Anyway, here is the sample query:

And here are 32 of my favorite creations so far. Note that some of the costumes are a bit over the top, but I kinda like that. I did photos in all sorts of different weather situations, day, night, males, females, many moods and temperatures. It was great fun to experiment with. Enjoy!

































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27 Tribes from Remote Villages in Papua New Guinea that No One Has Ever Seen

Follow my new @TraiRatcliff Instagram here!

This is the second in a series of mind-bending imagery, all created by an AI I’ve been working with. The first article explored art installations at Burning Man that do not exist and talks a little about how artists can team up with AIs in fun, inspiring, and innovative ways.

I went to Papua New Guinea several years ago and I was so amazed by seeing so many different types of tribes (see my Original Photos Here). I found their customs and the way they decorated themselves to be mesmerizing. There are still many undiscovered villages in Papua New Guinea as well, so I decided to make that a theme here.

I used some of my images as reference and for many of these queries to the AI, I used “in the style of Trey Ratcliff.” Luckily, because I’ve uploaded so many “people” photos to the internet over the past 15 years, the AI can kind of figure out my style. For these, I did many different switches and adjustments on the types of images. Male to female, age 8 to 80 to see all the variations. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did creating them!

























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31 Burning Man Photos With the Latest AI

Before I get started, a quick note that I’ve created a new Instagram account for my AI adventure. You can check it out over here.



My ever-evolving theory on artists using AI groweth! I’ll make a bigger article soon… but you can read my one from only 7 days ago AND you can look at the differences between those images and these images. It’s amazing how much progress can be made in just a week! The article focuses on how artists can team up with an AI to make some pretty amazing stuff.

Here are a few snippets from the previous article:

I have an interesting theory on AI in this arena – I believe a very interesting future for all artists is to “team up” with AIs to form an UberArtist.

Chess Grandmasters who routinely get destroyed by AIs sometimes team up with an AI in competitions against other teams. Anyway, with photography and pretty much all other forms of art (and soon video), it’s clear to me that AI will be able to make some extremely interesting creations, often surpassing what the most creative humans can produce. And it’s only going to get better. So, rather than “fight” the system, it only makes sense to join forces as artists curate and coax their AI into creating things they think are interesting.

After you do a little mind-flip on the benefits of AI, it’s like having a very creative assistant around you all the time, making wild suggestions that you may never think of. It’s like having a coach in a way… or the way Tiger Woods has a caddy to make suggestions… Many great people out there have coaches and listen to ideas and thoughts that may never have occurred to them.

I use about five different AI tools, and my new favorite is Midjourney Version 4. It doesn’t have much of a user interface, and you use Discord and command-line language with switches to create the images. I’m a Computer Science nerd, so I’m all into this stuff, but it may be a bit esoteric to others. Basically, you tell the AI what you want. I’ll give you a sample prompt I used for one of the images below:

“A huge semi-buried Burning Man sculpture in an inhospitable white desert, night time, dystopian, awe-inspiring, Trey Ratcliff style, lonely feeling, hyper-realistic, ultra-detailed, ultra-realistic, UHD, insanely beautiful, 32k, unreal engine, high octane, perfect composition, cinematic lighting, lonely feeling, minimalist, humbling scene, Joseph Campbell quest, a feeling of Rumi’s the cave you fear holds the treasure you seek –v 4 –q 2 –uplight –ar 1:1”

You may notice that I used the words “Trey Ratcliff Style” in the command line. This was an unexpected joy! The AI actually has gone out and seen all my Burning Man photos (and other photos – see my Full Portfolio) that I’ve been uploading to the internet for the last 15+ years. This makes the final render look quite similar to the sort of photo I might actually take. So, it turns out I’ve been accidentally training the AI for the last 15 years! Enjoy the photos, and I’ll have another series of articles and sample images in future posts… in the meantime, feel free to follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

Also, at the bottom after all the Burning Man works, I added some different sorts of creations I have made with this AI. I’ll post another article soon that explores all of these innovative ways to use AI to make visually interesting creations. I know I get quite a bit of negative feedback from photographers (or other visual artists) on this stuff because it is not hand-crafted, but that’s okay. I already got through over a decade of HDR hate and stuff. 🙂































Other Creations with the AI

Below is a sampling of other fun creations I’ve created. I’ll post a longer article later that really does an analysis of what is going on here and some fun implications for the art world.

I’ll give you the prompts here for the first couple… and you can have fun trying to guess the next ones. I’m not keeping secrets, I’m just toooo lazy now to copy and paste all the prompts.

Below:

“a stunning interpretation of a leopard Human girl hybrid, highly detailed and intricate, hypermaximalist, blonde, big blue intense eyes, mouth slightly open, ornate, luxury, elite, welcoming, loving, matte painting, cinematic, cgsociety, James jean, Brian froud, ross tran, fantasy forest background -v 4 –q 2 –uplight”

Below:

“insanely detailed photorealistic Japanese treehouse in a tall cherry blossom tree, hybrid, highly detailed and intricate, mysterious foggy night, closeup of treehouse, glowing treehouse, many cherry blossoms around treehouse, treehouse in focus, dark green forest in background out of focus, tiny glowing fairies in the background, Miyazaki style, 4k, octane render, Rembrandt lighting -v 4 –q 2 –uplight”

Below (yes the whole thing is created by AI – quite meta, hey? I borrowed this idea!):

“a bookish redditor shows off her painting in a niche subreddit.”











More soon!

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34 Crazy Photos From Burning Man That Don’t Exist – AKA How Artists Can Embrace AI

I have a NEW post with 31 Much Improved photos using a new AI. You won’t believe the difference!

I have an interesting theory on AI – I believe a very interesting future for all artists is to “team up” with AIs to form an UberArtist.

Chess Grandmasters who routinely get destroyed by AIs sometimes team up with an AI in competitions against other teams. Anyway, with photography and pretty much all other forms of art (and soon video), it’s clear to me that AI will be able to make some extremely interesting creations, often surpassing what the most creative humans can produce. And it’s only going to get better. So, rather than “fight” the system, it only makes sense to join forces as artists curate and coax their AI into creating things they think are interesting.

I’ve been deep into the AI world for about the last year trying all sorts of things. Before I became a full-time artist, I was all IT with my nerdy degree in Computer Science and Math, so I’m deep into all the facets of AI. It gets pretty esoteric, but I’m leaning more toward the art side, naturally.

I decided to take 34 of my favorite Burning Man photos of art, vehicles, and structures and create something that doesn’t actually exist. You can see the source of all my photos there in my portfolio from the last 11 years in a row at the burn. I hope you also have fun finding some of the originals in my Burning Man portfolio.

Naturally, these took a very long time to capture and create. It’s challenging to get the composition I want along with the light, background, and all the other factors that make for an interesting photo. And I love how the AI “respected” (if I can use that word) my original color treatment and composition to create something entirely new that pays homage to the original.

After you do a little mind-flip on the benefits of AI, it’s like having a very creative assistant around you all the time, making wild suggestions that you may never think of. It’s like having a coach in a way… or the way Tiger Woods has a caddy to make suggestions… Many great people out there have coaches and listen to ideas and thoughts that may never have occurred to them.

In many cases, to be honest, the AI made things that are even more interesting! There are still little problems if you zoom in close, but these niggling things will only get better over time. It’s quite bad still at creating new tiny humans in the image, but when zoomed out, the surrealistic effect still works. I think it especially works on my style which is already pretty surrealistic to begin with.


































Wild, eh?!
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