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I turned my vacation photos into nightmares with Photoshop’s new generative AI tool

I turned my vacation photos into nightmares with Photoshop’s new generative AI tool


The new generative AI tool looks like an incredible update to Content-Aware Fill. It also turned my photos from a trip to Iceland into a travelogue of a nonexistent, nightmarish landscape.

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AI-generated image of an erupting volcano reflected in a hot spring
This is the AI version of Iceland’s greatest hits. Here’s the original before I asked Generative Fill to add an erupting volcano and a hot spring.

If you’d like to visit a place where danger from the natural world is omnipresent and where lunch costs $60, I encourage you to visit Iceland. It is a beautiful and brutal landscape whose natural wonders (and terrors) make for incredible photographs. I took a bunch on a recent trip to the country. But it is possible, as I’ve unfortunately discovered, to make them terrifying in entirely new ways.

I turned Adobe’s new AI-powered Generative Fill tool on my Icelandic vacation photos, with both “legitimate” photo editing tasks and a few ridiculous prompts that resulted in nightmare fuel. Generative Fill is in beta now, and it’s based on Adobe’s Firefly image generator. It’s not entirely new, but having it right alongside all your standard photo editing sliders is new. You use it by making a selection — lasso, magic wand, whatever you like — and then typing in a text prompt. It can remove and add elements to your photo, or extend the image.

After messing around with it for just a few hours, it already looks like an impressive upgrade to the existing Content-Aware Fill tool in Photoshop. Take a look at how each one handled removing people from my photo of Skógafoss. It’s a hugely popular spot, so my photo naturally has a lot of people in front of the falls — here’s the original.

Photo of Skogafoss with people removed from foreground with content-aware fill.
Photo of Skogafoss with people removed with generative fill.
Content-aware fill (left) versus Generative Fill (right).

There’s no contest — the Generative Fill image is much better than Content-Aware. And all I had to do was make an imprecise selection, type in a few words, and wait a few seconds. That’s honestly kind of scary in itself.

But that’s just the beginning — if you really want to go for it, you can go for it. And oh, the places you will go with Generative Fill. Let’s take a little journey from beautiful-yet-deadly waterfalls to a beautiful-yet-deadly glacier. Here’s what the valley carved out by the glacier actually looked like, and here’s what I got when I asked Generative Fill to make it even more ominous by adding a thunderstorm.

Photo of a glacial valley in Iceland.
Photo of valley with snow and a dark rain cloud above.
Original (left) versus edited with Generative Fill (right). Sky replacement is child’s play for generative AI.

Pretty convincing, right? How about a waterfall instead?

Ask and ye shall receive a waterfall.
Ask and ye shall receive a waterfall.

Oh wow, Generative Fill goes hard on the waterfall. It’s kind of phony looking, but plausible, I guess. Now, what if I ask for ponies in the foreground instead?

Image of the back of a horse with two heads in front of glacial valley.
Please, my pony, he is sick.

Sweet Jesus, not like that! Let’s go more lighthearted... how about a lemonade stand in the foreground? Pretty innocent, right?

AI generated image with two structures that barely resemble lemonade stands and a small table with a yellow cloth and indecipherable objects on top.
Welcome the lemonade stand at the end of the world.

Cool, the world’s bleakest lemonade stand. Love it. How about we lighten up with something that couldn’t possibly conjure up horror? What about a rainbow in the sky with unicorns?

Oh, no. It made peens.
Oh, no. It made peens.

Okay, that’s an F for that rainbow and just a big “Nope” to the rest. You okay, Firefly? Take me back to safety and just try to remove the people from this photo at the beautiful-yet-deadly black sand beach.

Black sand beach with people in the foreground.
Photo of black sand beach with people removed from image.
Original (left) and edited (right). Seriously, never turn your back on the ocean.

Eh, it’s okay I guess. The area where the rocks meet the water looks fake and stretched, but honestly, the whole country looks too beautiful to be real. And at least the phallic image in this photo wasn’t made by AI. Seriously, it’s just out there like that. You never know what you’re going to see next in Iceland.