Photoshop’s Generative Fill tool turns vacation photos into nightmares


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.

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.

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.

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?

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?

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?

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.

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.



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