Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Face recognition

I use Picasa to manage my far-too-many pictures.  I find it very useful and always install the newest version when it's available.  Recently an upgrade came along which includes face recognition.  It picks out the faces in your photos and offers you the chance of naming them and will even offer some suggestions - not many, it must be said.  Apart from a few special family occasions, I rarely take photos of people but Picasa found thousands of faces.

Some were family and friends of course, others weren't the main object of the photo but unsurprising nevertheless, while many were a little unexpected.

I wasn't particularly surprised to find statues, even where they weren't the focus of my attention.

A statue on a bridge in Rome

But when all you are doing is looking at doorways, sometimes there was more there than I realised.

One of the doorways into the cathedral in Bourges, central France

I've been forgetting to look at the details.

The carvings in the entrances of Bourges Cathedral are worthy of attention in their own right but I hadn't really noticed until Picasa asked me to name the faces it found.

And again, somewhere like Versailles, you can be so absorbed in ornate style of the larger picture....

A corner inside the Palace of Versailles

....that you miss the smaller story being played out on the ceiling.

I have dozens of other examples I could show you, but it isn't always a total success.  You could never anticipate that Picasa would ignore all the available faces at the boulangerie.

A small town in France

.... in favour of this.

As you can tell, I have wasted spent many happy hours with Picasa, but in all honesty I can't see the point of face recognition in tagging photos.  I know who the people are in my pictures.  I don't need to label them.  If I don't know them, I can't label them, nor do I need to.  The great benefit for me is that it's shown me I need to look for the detail as well as the bigger picture.  I seem to suffer from the opposite of not seeing the wood for the trees.

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  1. The benefit of face recognition is to save time in tagging your photos. It is a huge plus when you can click on the names of three friends and immediately see all photos that contain all three, or all photos containing any one of the friends?

    What if a birthday for a family member was coming up and you wanted to quickly pull together a slide show for that person. This is done in an instant with a face recognition based utility.

    Fotobounce is one such utility, not unlike Picasa, which has all of the above features.

    And, if you use Facebook to share photos then all of the photos you upload from Fotobounce to Facebook have the name tags included - saving manual effort on Facebook. And you can download photos to Fotobounce from any friends you have on Facebook or Flickr.

  2. Picasa certainly doesn't save time because it did very little automatic tagging even after I'd tagged several examples.

    I can see your points but I rarely take photos of people, and those I do take, go straight into appropriate folders. And I never use Facebook.

  3. A, I am with you on this one. I do use Picasa but it can be very frustrating at times when trying to organise photographs on your own computer (albums and folders).

    I wish they had spent their time improving navigation rather than the face recognition feature.

    Like you I know the faces in my snaps.

    Mind you you can switch it OFF!

  4. It recognizes the faces of statues? Amazingly useful.

    Relax Max

  5. @Mike, I haven't used albums very much because of that. Their "views" of alphabetical, date order or tree structure are totally confusing.

    @Max, what can I say? I find it useful, but not in the way they intended. Useful is probably the wrong word, entertaining would be better. But then a little entertainment in life is always useful, wouldn't you say?

  6. I'm using Picasa as well, but not this recognition feature.

    btw. The Cathedral in Bourges is really a masterpiece.

  7. I actually have never used Picasa. Your photos are just amazing with all the intricate detail. Very nice.


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