Technology has leaped and bounded forward in the past decade. Image rendering is now almost miraculous. In 2017, when I began to rescue Marina’s cactus imagery from The Wayback Machine, there was no way to clearly enlarge the tiny pictures. By 2020, there were enlargers online. Now, in 2024, we have spectacular ground-floor AI text-to-image creation that liberates writers and web developers from the huge fees of image-licensing companies. But that’s just the beginning. AI text-to-image creation is absolutely magical.
The Cactophile Network (The Amateurs’ Digest Archive and related websites) now uses Artificial Intelligence to generate featured images that are fun and exciting.
TADA and TCN (The Cactophile Network) do not use AI to replace real plant photos from Marina’s decades of work; this would not be feasible, or historical. AI imagery is a kind of illustration, it gives an “impression”, not a completely factual representation. It creates plant and flower pictures that are idealized, larger than life, with no faded flowers, no bruised petals, no broken leaves. AI images are just “too perfect” in appearance. They also are not photos of actual plants, so you cannot analyze these images as if they were real plants to try to identify whether they are true to kind or not. These are just images for fun and illustration. TADA and TCN always indicate in the relevant post or page whenever AI text-to-image has been used in a featured plant image.
The real fun of AI for The Amateurs’ Digest Archive and The Cactophile Network is the ability to generate action scenes, including images of “Virtual Marina” and “Virtual BB” working together in their “Virtual Cactus Greenhouse” or their “Virtual Home Office”.
AI always renders beautiful images of Marina’s African Gray talking parrot. However, AI has no benchmark on which to render images of Marina herself. You cannot (yet, anyway) upload a photo of someone and have the AI reproduce that person in a range of scenarios. Therefore, Marina looks different in the various AI images, sometimes with darker hair, sometimes silver, sometimes with short or long hair, sometimes thin, sometimes medium build, sometimes younger or older. However, all examples of “Virtual Marina” share her basic features. Her wavy hair, winged eyebrows, beautiful eyes and smile. And, her denim jacket that she wore in the greenhouse.
I seriously hope that you enjoy our new featured images, which I think bring this website to life as never before.
One more new thing: TADA and TCN are now using Stripe for donations, and will also use it for membership signups when we launch The Cactophile Club. I assure you, I am working hard on all of it! Thank you for your patience.
Have a wonderful day.
Enjoy your visit!
In case you don’t know, I’m Kathleen, Marina’s daughter. And I don’t know anything about cactus plants. Wish me luck!
Please share this website!