Tuesday, 15 June 2010

I know that face...

I often get asked to supply photos of fellow workers for various reasons. For example, it might be for a funny greetings card or a brochure.What then follows is that I have to look through my external hard drive for the relevant picture. Maybe I'll get lucky on the first attempt and find a nice portrait. Sometimes this doesn't happen and I have to search for a funny / amusing picture from a works party or similar and that's when it gets cumbersome as I photograph LOTS of these events.

I have now found the solution and it's free!! (free is my favourite).

I'm using the latest version of Google's Picasa with face recognition. After installation, the programme searches your hard drive for any images with faces on them and arranges them by similarity. You just select a picture and write the person's name and Voilà, Picasa looks for al the others of that person. This works whether the person is alone or part of a group. It also manages to find that person even when he or she is standing far away and in the shade! It also scans pictures on objects on the original photo. For example, I have a photo of someone holding a CD cover. The pictures on that cover were also scanned and picked up by Picasa. Posters hanging on a wall are also picked up.

You can tell Picasa which folders to look in and which one's it shouldn't. For example, I have omitted anything showing crowds such as sports events where every spectator is picked out for naming. Each folder is scanned and you can add descriptions to aid with any future searches.

Going deeper into the settings you can tell Picasa to scan a folder once or always. This is useful if you sometimes add new images to that folder. You can also tell it not to scan for faces (as I mentioned earlier) or just to scan one time only.

When you have named all the people that it has found, you can then navigate your way to a folder and open a pictures with (say) a group of people in it. Select "view / people" and it will tell you all the people in that group. If you double click on the group pic to enlarge it, you will see that running the mouse over the images puts an identification box on each person. This is a bit like the Facebook feature when a photo has been tagged.

Other cool features include the ability to make collages of your photos in several designs. You can also make movies with music and special effects from your still images.

Of note also, is the ability to Geotag your images. Just select and image and click on the "places" button at the bottom of the page. You can then add the location where the images were made. Later you can search for all images taken at that location. There's probably loads more features that I haven't discovered yet but what I've written above is what I'm the most interested in at the moment.

Bye for now.

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