The Potential of Artificial Intelligence for Image Analysis and Advice

Neil Gordon APSNZ

Ōtaki, New Zealand


The photography world has been mesmerised in the last year or two by the increasing ability of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create images, using what is usually referred to as generative AI.  Much less attention has been paid to the developments in the use of AI for going in the other direction—multimodal models such as GPT-4 Vision, that allow for reading and analysing images, then producing text about them.  Developments in this area in just the last six months have been, in my view, astonishing.

I’ve been tracking and experimenting with this, and want to share some of my thoughts, as well as provide access to an online system where you too can experiment, just to see how far we have come—but also to be fully aware, through your own experiences, of how these systems currently perform.

At the outset, I want to make it very clear that I am writing this article as an individual photographer, and not in any official capacity as a judge or with the Photographic Society of NZ.  I also want to strongly emphasise that I am not suggesting that such systems should be used for judging.

An AI system is not a person. It does not have feelings. It cannot truly feel emotions from an image, or have any emotional connection with what the photographer is communicating.  The essence of photography—its emotion, its narrative, its connection to the sweep of art history—cannot be fully grasped by algorithms.  Our human capacity to feel, to connect, to interpret within the context of our shared human experience, remains unmatched by any AI.  Human judges will be necessary and provide irreplaceable value for many years to come.

And yet. We cannot ignore what is happening, and how rapid the developments are.  It may be that such systems, while not replacing human judges, could still be of value at an earlier stage, taken with a huge grain of salt, to analyse and comment on images in advance of their submission to camera club salons or competitions. Could an AI serve as a preliminary sounding board for our work?

With that in mind, the system I’ve been developing is designed not to judge but to guide. Imagine it as a fellow photographer beside you, who is enthusiastic but not perfect, offering tips and insights on how you might postprocess your image, or re-shoot a photo of a similar genre, before submission. This isn’t about diminishing the role of judges, but about enriching our preparatory process with a different layer of feedback.

My system is currently running at https://image-advice-neilgordon.replit.app.  Feel free to try it out.  The cost to me per image is around three US cents. I can easily cope with the cost for many of you to try it out, unless there is a huge amount of use, in which case I may need to turn it off for a while.  You can also optionally choose to donate a small amount to help offset my costs, but I am not doing this as a money-maker.

The system currently uses OpenAI’s GPT-4 Vision model. This is all completely anonymous and private. You don’t need to log in to use it. OpenAI does not save anything from the call to its API once it has finished, or use it for training. I do not log or save either the images or the output. 

I give my AI system a “prompt” that essentially guides it in how it should analyse and comment on an image that you upload from your own computer or device. This system prompt is really important. It starts with:

“You are an expert photographer and judge. You like to assist, educate, and encourage. You provide succinct feedback and advice on an image, akin to a knowledgeable friend.” 

The prompt then goes on in similar vein, and asks the AI to be friendly and helpful and always positive.  You may find the result a bit wordy, and possibly a bit too forgiving of any faults it notices, but that’s really the way I’ve designed it, for now.

By way of an example, I asked it to provide feedback on the photo below from a weekend walk on nearby Ōtaki Beach.  The uploaded file was entitled “Beach Walk.jpg”, which meant that it assumed the title was “Beach Walk”.  Titles can aid both an AI and a person in interpreting images.

As you can see, the advice provided is helpful and does pick up on a number of points that could improve the image, including the deliberately tilted horizon.

I really do encourage you to try this out, and see what you think. But please remember that this is not about replacing human judgement, but about seeing whether and how an AI system can be used to complement the advice and assessments of humans.

As is true with everything in the AI world, watch this space. Rapid developments continue, with many new and better multimodal AI models emerging. 

Let’s see where these developments take us, but never forget that the heart of photography lies in our human connection to the world and to each other.

Analysis and Advice from AI System
The image titled ‘Beach Walk’; captures a serene moment of leisure, with a group of people and a dog enjoying the vastness of the beach. The reflections on the wet sand add a sense of tranquility and depth to the scene, while the gentle waves in the background provide a soft, rhythmic contrast to the stillness of the figures.
You’ve managed to convey a sense of space and freedom that beach scenes often evoke. The placement of the subjects towards the center works well here, as it allows the viewer to feel part of the group’s experience.
The dog, caught in mid-action, adds a dynamic element to the composition, suggesting movement and playfulness.
In terms of improvement, you might consider the exposure and contrast of the image. The lighting appears a bit flat, which can be a challenge in beach photography due to the bright surroundings. Playing with the contrast and perhaps the levels in post-processing could help to bring out more detail in the subjects and add some definition to the sky, which seems a bit washed out.
Additionally, while the central composition has its merits, experimenting with different angles or perspectives could create a more engaging composition. For instance, getting lower to the ground might have accentuated the reflections and given a more dramatic sense of scale.
Lastly, the horizon seems slightly tilted to the right, which can be easily corrected with a crop tool to ensure it’s perfectly level.
This small adjustment would enhance the overall balance of the scene.
Overall, you’ve captured a lovely, candid moment that many viewers can relate to. With a few tweaks, this image could be even more impactful, drawing the viewer into this peaceful beach walk scene. Keep exploring these everyday moments; there’s beauty in the simplicity of such scenes.

Share This Post: