My Favorite Picture 

Organizing a cabinet today, 
I came across a photo of you. 
It made me pause, 
close my eyes,
and take a breathe. 
It made me think in metaphors, 
and feel the pang, 
subdued and gracious 
lacking want.

That was a good day, 
and this is a memory of the light, that I hold outside of my body, 
in this cabinet,
reflecting your smile,
from then to now.

Eternity isn’t a long time, 
it’s always been a place outside of time. 
I loved you that day, 
along with each time I forget, 
and get to remember it.

Anxiety and Creativity: A Wet-Plate Collodion (Tintype) Reflection on A.I.  

  I'd like to discuss my journey with A.I., from the existential dread that consumed me a few years ago to the reframe and the art I'm now making to find meaning in a post-A.I. world.

   My name is D. Anson Brody. I'm an artist working in music and photography. I'm fortunate to have had a long albeit very small career in the arts.  Like many artists I sacrifice a lot to pursue a creative life of craft, learning, and expression, with times of hard pushing towards a goal, and other times where the creative fields need to lay fallow. So many years traveling, sleeping in the car, and on couches, eating ramen, destroying my health, and sacrificing relationships all for the meaning I find in my work.  In 2017 I first had a thought that has plagued me ever since. If humans beings couldn't tell the difference between the work of a human, and the work of A.I., then society craving ever more convenience would default to using the AI's work. If artificial intelligence could listen to recordings of me, read my poems, digest my photos, and social media posts, it could in theory be prompted to mimic my work well enough that others couldn't tell the difference. What purpose would I have left if no one cared to tell the difference?  

  Now we come to 2021, and Dall-E, the first text to image generative AI, and it freaked me out! The thing I'd feared was finally here. It wasn't advanced, but I knew it was only the start.  Sept 2022 I got an invite to the beta version of Dall-E 2.  My curiosity got the best of me. I had to try it and see what it would render from my prompt.  I typed in something like “19th century photograph of old style robot taking over the world” and after some iteration it spat this out.

First Dall-E image


Then I really got more specific and asked for the same thing but added different variations like “looming from behind the earth menacingly”, and eventually got this.


Second Dall-E image

I saved these screenshots and messed around with a few other ideas, and then never really messed with the idea or Dall-E again. Until earlier this year, (2023) I was walking through an antique store in Three Oaks, Michigan and I saw this vintage robot toy from Japan. Parts of it were missing but it reminded me of that image I'd prompted from Dall-E a year or so earlier. I thought, I'm going to make a photo about AI, inspired by AI, but in a handmade 19th century style plate. I'll use an older analog medium to frame the past and talk to a digital future all while expressing this current moment in society and within myself regarding AI.

Robot toy at the antique store.

   One of the earliest photographic methods, dating back to the 1850s, a tintype is a direct positive image, exposed through a wet chemical process directly onto a thin piece of metal. The size of the large format camera determines the tintype's maximum size, while the characteristics of the chemical process and hand applications add artifacts and uniqueness. The finished product is a unique metal plate with the image composed of the contrast between the black metal, and highlights made of pure metallic silver.  It's a medium that is physical first and digital (with scanning) later, if ever. Much of a tintype's unique reflective and moody character can not be admired through a computer screen. They are much better experienced in person.  

   I initially visualized this shot in a different 19th century process called dryplate. Coincidently I ended up taking a refresher tintype class with alternative process friend Doug Hanson. At the time I saw it as something fun to do on a day off.  Though I'd made some tintypes before, I had kind of dismissed the idea of ever doing them seriously because I preferred my dryplate look and versatility. During Doug's class I got to see some of his original 16x20 tintype plates. They were nicely lit where the room was a bit darker than the light on the print. The way he shot them made me fall in love with the moody and somewhat spooky look. Something about the the bigger scale and Doug's lighting really captured my heart and imagination. During the class Doug suggested that I shoot the big camera because he could see that I was really into the big plates on the wall. I told him about an idea for a self portrait, and with his help with I poured and developed my first 16x20 tintype plate. It was also my first ultra large format camera experience.  I knew when I saw it come up in the fixer that this was how I wanted to shoot my toy robot, and that I wanted to do a continuing series commenting on AI in this format.


Making my first ultra large format tintype-16x20

 So I started making test shots after getting everything I needed together, and got into a groove after some practice.  I started taking different kinds of portraits of the robot toy.  The toy is only about 12" tall total so these close portraits were technically macro shots with an 8X10 camera which meant it took tons of bellows, which equated to several stops worth of light loss.  On top of that I knew the depth of field was going to be a lot thinner at 16x20 so I was testing for F16 even on the 8x10.  Tintype being an older photographic technology it's very insensitive to light, roughly iso 1 on average.  Luckily the robot and the globe are inorganic still life subjects so I could hit them with strobe light power over and over as needed.  Took 30 pops of the flash with a couple of 4800ws strobes to get a perfectly exposed plate at F16.  

 I ended up with a clear glass globe with reflective mirror-ish continents. I setup the shot and made tests to get the light and composition right. I ended up scrapping the silver mirror continents off of half the globe to get the light the way I wanted it on the face, the paint was blocking light and creating shadows I didn't want, but the metaphor of having to destroy half of the globe to shine a light on AI wasn't lost on me. This also had the added effect of making the clear areas of the globe glow like light was pouring out from inside the earth, which I loved. I found an adjustable magnet in my “ I might need that again someday” bin to hang the robot at an angle looming over the globe.  

  The Dall-E image that initially inspired this framing was too menacing.  I wanted to express anxiety, not fear. Lighting up the toy's eyes from behind was far too much in my experiments. I wanted the robot's face to feel “scary” like my dad with the flashlight under his chin around the campfire, not like a glowing eye'd monster in the woods waiting to get me.  The robot toy's face is much more charming than in the Dall-E image so that helped. The specular highlights in the robot's eyes have enough life in them, without evoking fear, and the contrast levels feel more like an old sci-fi movie poster. Similar to one of my all time favorites “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, scary in it's themes maybe, but charming and growing a bit camp with it's age.  


Poster for "The Day the Earth Stood Still"


  After getting a satisfying test plate in 8x10 I came back to Doug's place to shoot with his massive camera. The plates, the chemicals, the holder and the camera were all terribly cumbersome and difficult to work with compared to shooting in 8x10. Everything had to be done slowly.  It took all day to make 3 attempts.  The 3rd of which was perfect. 


Final 16x20 plate image 


New 16x20 plate camera.

Now that I've made my first plate towards this project, I've invested in a camera setup to be able to see it through.  This 16x20 plate camera was designed and built by Doug Hanson.  He says he's not really a camera builder, but he made an extra when he built his 16x20 for himself.  

Final Notes:   While working towards this project there's been a lot of discussion about how AI scrapes from other artists.  I think artists have every right to be angry and feel cheated by tech companies, much of the tech world gained it's power from clepto-cracy in my opinion. I make exception for myself in regards to this blog, though I'll admit it's a bit self serving.  We need to see if AI can be fixed and integrated.  We need to see how artists react to it's invention and integration into society.  I think I played within the boundaries of curiosity, and used the inspiration ethically to make something that expressed something deep within myself for the tangible world.  Maybe you disagree, it all definitely still feels anxious.  

I want to Thank Doug Hanson for his mentorship with this medium, and I want send a quick shout out Shane Balkowitsch, another artist working in wet-plate, for his insights and blog posts about the relationship between photography and these AI images generators.  

 I keep thinking of this clip of Cher talking about how she spent her whole life crafting her music, and well…herself, and someone used AI to mimic her voice and style singing Madonna songs.  She felt that was too far, because she fought all her life to be exactly her, and I really felt that. Are the seeds and first fruits of this project the same, too far? Is it even important to make distictions and draw lines in grey areas or is AI the enemy of human artists?  Pandora's box is open, AI is here and we'll have to deal it somehow.  To add another layer of convolution to this project I even used Open AI's Chat GPT to come up with the outlines on how I should write this blog, and asked for it's help along the way in making my writing more clear and concise.  

I encourage readers to share their own experiences and thoughts on this topic, please leave comments, feedback, vitriol, ect. below.


Kodak and…

Twin lenses meeting eyes 
sun-kissed silver, salted black. 
A ghost’s whispered cool tingling 
and gentle tapping at my back.

A fixed moment, 
begging for another moment, 
a spark of chemical desire.
A jewel pulled from the char,
burning deep red like a fire.

One day fades to two 
who love what’s made in the dark. 

Freckled Finch 

A freckled finch chirps from behind the callous layers in my heart, 
and it gives me such a feeling
that I wish she’d take me with her when she flies.

Whiskey, a quality poison, breaches my beak and does it’s work until my head spins dizzy. 

I feel like I might fall.

Maybe I’ll learn to fly on the way down.

Yes, but some birds never learn to fly do they?  

I’ll sing instead, sing like a bird with drunken deformed wings fallen from the nest. Hymns of you sung to heaven from hells gate. 

Cursed Creation 

I could write of the rapturous terror felt in your presence, of your eyes, your smile and such,
But thats not where my interest is sustained.

We gaze outwardly together 
in the same direction. 
Shared vision, shared passion, 
a shared bitter drop of poison, 
That elusive third thing between you and I.

I want to spend my time supporting you. 
I hope for dementia in old age where my only memories are of your laughter, 
So whenever I close my eyes 
you’re the color among the phosphenes.

I know how things are. 
That my honor is beset by horrors on all sides,
by the nature of the cost
of actively becoming, always becoming. 
I know that I am the red one, 
with the black felt hat,
rekindling your long abandoned dreams
Gripping the thickened nerve in your gut. 
I’m the heated ringing in your ears,
burning in the dark corners of the songs sung in tequila nights.

This is the despair, 
in Mary Shelly’s wine.
To love the monster, and curse creation,
for your love. 

The Genius of Jazz 

Chicago Jazz and one or two too many, 
makes me think of you. 
I wanted to tell you, 
I love so many aspects or your talent, 
it’s the deepness I value. 
I’ve come to appreciate the delicate and untamed corners.  
You are beautiful certainly,
but that almost gets in the way.  
It’s deeper than respect, 
or friendship, 
deeper than desire, 
deeper than ah-ha beauty or art. 
You’re very special
and I’ve fallen for you in my way, 

but there’s no ground to land safely, 

so I’m improvising.

Choose Samsara  

People resist being pried,

even if it’s from their aching ignorance,

but no one can think their way out of loneliness,

though I could miss myself all the way to you.


The ridges of fingerprints

touch of velvet and Prussian blue,

gently and slow from the smallest courage

overcoming fear by one strummed spider’s silk.


The road to hell

paved with those warning me.

“That’s too much work” “They deserve better” and “Money is Love”

But my inner child walks with the lightbringer unafraid.  


I want remarkable, and deserve deepness

I desire a dark and twisted tree

with knots to put my timeless trinkets

and branches full of lovely hoodoo spells.

Blessed Bitter and Bloom 

A whisper wrapped in Shakespearean lines, 
delicate in shadow like absinthe and orange blossoms. 
Bringing the thumping chorus of o-negative hallelujah, 
complete with broken throne 
and cut hair.

I cannot name the spirit,
but to the red ghosted silhouette in my chest, 

I confess my savoring the bitter in this teaching. 

To Know You From a Dark Room. 

It’s late and I’m in the darkroom printing the image I made of you. 

Sazerac in hand I realize there’s an image I make of you in my mind. 

I think about how we all do that to each other everyday. 

It occurs to me the we cannot even know ourselves without bias.  

Maybe the collective unconscious universe can know us truly.  

Here now finding you in that flawed old emulsion, monochrome in two dimensions, frozen at one beautiful moment in time, distorted by the light passing through the moving rinse water,

I think I might like to fail to know you. 

Love or Sazarac? 

Like burning incense  
I find that you surround me, 
with the lightness and curvature of wafting smoke, 
peppery and aromatic when stirred with the sense of the world.  

Like a salve that’s seeped through my skin, the medicine has been doing it’s work inside a pulsed fever,  
burning some old demons, who pretend to perish rattling their cages.  

So if you have hired the craft of a Faye apothecary,  
I am fallen  
and my name is David.  

But if the whiskey has been presenting mirages it may be that, next morning, a cold shower is in order. 

The Locked Heart 

I see her in everything.

every piece of art,

every romantic gesture,

every heartache, every poem,

each sunset.  

Beyond reason and a world that always makes sense,

my inner everything yearns to hear her whisper my name,

to sleep with her in my arms,

to see her smile and be everything she is,

and everything she is capable of being. 

My heart is locked with one known key,

and it’s been thrown in a drawer,

not thrown away, but kept as a beloved 

useless thing. 


Chest a flutter
thumping in shadow, 
with fragile wings sealed behind glass. 

Passions thick 
in brown glass bottles,  
fix little silver virtues.  

Red ethereal mercury  
a gilded mirror of madness awaits any with careless ambition.  

Such a beautiful thing  
a living myth of salt and quick 
developed in darkness,  
for you my love,  
unique for all time, and yours to keep.

Let Me Show You 

You are not regular 

You are not plain 

You are a blooming triumph 

the most wonderful 

and unique person I’ve ever met. 

You are the recipe for filling the hunger of my soul. 

You fill me to the brim and I overflow. 

What you consider flaws are unquantifiably beautiful. 

You are not selfish, 

You are not ugly, 

You are not plain, 

or undeserving. 

You are a beauty that fire can aspire to. 

You are what kindness became thankful for, 

and what wisdom calls true. 

You are what the universe watches through a telescope. 

The stars gather at night in awe of you. 

They light your countenance, 

so the darkness cannot touch you. 

Your smile is the craftsmanship of your heart 

your kiss soft, and electric. 

and your embrace?...

to be wrapped in your embrace 

is to be wrapped in eternity. 


My only love, 

My only temptation, 

My only satiation, 

My only words, 

My only admiration, 

My soul’s only desire, 

Just my only. 

Let me show you, 

everything that you are.

Barely a Man 

I am a better man 

and a terrible one 

I am a genius 

and a contemptible fool. 

I am compassionate 

yet disconnected 

I am warm 

I am cold 

I am kind 

I am cruel 

I am mentally sound 

and howling at the moon. 

I am society’s disease and cure 

The culture's most despised and most endeared 

I’m everything wrapped in nothing 

I want to live forever, 

I want to die tonight. 

In peace, and in pieces. 


I've known the breath of eons that barely existed 

I've known the torment of what is everlasting. 

I've sobbed tears 

of defeat and maniacal triumph simultaneously.

My face in my hands, I tell you now 

what you already known. 

I'm barely a piece of the man I was,

but sometimes I'm a thousand times the man I ever was.

A Lucky World 

Meadows grow tall, 

and Rivers overflow 

so seeds grow. 

Stars shine carefully, 

and Bluebirds wear blue dresses. 

This is one day.

This is the world.

A Lucky world.

Define Beauty 

A fan called me. 
She had recently read one of my poems, 
and she wanted to know 
how I would define beauty. 

I told her that, “Mankind has tried to quantify 
this very concept since alpha, day one!” 
I joked that I would write a piece, 
said I'd do my best to describe beauty, 
goes something like this… 

eh hmmm… 

To the crackhead, 
a new pipe, carefully crafted 
is a thing a beauty. 
Especially if it's got crack in it. 

To the dung beetle, 
a steaming pile of excrement 
is a thing of beauty. 
The more pungent, the more beautiful. 

To the monk, 
a single blade of grass 
may have the answers 
to eternal beauty. 

To the rich, 
numbers arranged on a screen, 

and their mastery of them 
is a thing of beauty. 

To the poet, 
words arranged on a page, 
even just the look of it, 
is a thing of beauty. 

To the starving man, 
a sandwich 
tastes better than any meal he can remember, 
and is a thing of beauty. 

But to me, 
and the hope that you bring, 
are truly 



I love her like magnolia wishes 

and children's laughter. 

Like a bee's dance in white daisy fields 

and a gentle moonlight shining on twilight's doorstep. 

I love her like that bird hopping in the snow 

like a good wine's warm company 

and embraceable darkness. 

I love her like a black velvet midnight 

and the smell of a breezy lilac meadow. 

I love her like time's first flight 

and violet skies over Alaskan lakes. 

I love her open spirit. 

I love her lines, smells, and tastes. 

I admire her 

I love her 

I just love her, 


Reason and Madness 

I think that love is a reasonable madness. 
How awful life must be without a reason for madness.
I did not forget, celebrate tomorrow, 

but today is reason enough without it.

The Meaning Meets It's Costs 

These old artist stereotypes are alive and well.

Cleary the culture can't support human values

without twisting them down into the uncanny valley,

but it's too late to complain, isn't it?

I chose it.

It's Wednesday and I have $19.02 in my bank account,

that's fine, I guess,

just enough for food and gas to get me to the weekend's gigs.


Deadly thoughts come artistically now 

poverty, distractions, romantic sentiments, and addictions 

all cause and prevent what feels inevitable, yet is impossible. 

The seeds I've sown, bare the fruits I've earned, 

and they are ripe with a sadness sickness 

that reveals itself most pointed when meaning meets it's costs.


My emotions were manipulated by dogma for so long

They still terrify me, all of them from then,

but I wonder what minor god I seek now in my suffering.

Tumbling the rabbit hole of the artist's life,

the will to really live finds me again.

I find the beauty of it all in a wider frame.

It's there waiting for me every time.

The Morning Book 

I lay here with the book that is my memory,

left opened by my dreams,

opened to where I’ve earmark,

to where I have gilded the pages,

where each smile is inked in red letters,

and all the notes she wrote in the margins remind me of her limerence. 

They say a man can never give the same love twice,

and that someday somone will light a fire inside of you that can not die.

“They” whoever they are, have never said a thing more true.

In the dew of morning hours,

in my daydreams,

and when twinkling stars brighten an otherwise despondent sky.

I love her,

and for the rest of my life I can not wait to love her,

I can not wait to live for the dream of every terrible pang in my heart.

Photo by Cal Quinn


Welcome to my blog. The format is pretty loose here, so one post might be a technical layout, and then a poem, photography tips, a tour update, or a life story.  It can read like an open diary at times.  Thanks for checking it out.