Picasa Face Recognition

Picasa LogoI read this article on Jeff Friedl’s blog about the trouble he had with face recognition in the Google Picasa 3 photo management application. See http://regex.info/blog/2009-12-07/1388 . I used version 3.6 for the PC.

Jeff had a lot of trouble with the user interface. His method was to point Picasa at about 20,000 pictures and left it to process the pictures. That took a day and a half (!) and it found about 100,000 faces.

He then had a lot of work going through the photos and telling Picasa who was who.

I tried a different approach for test purposes. I exported a few pictures of friends and family from Lightroom to a new directory and let Picasa digest them. That was much more satisfactory as I limited it to a population of around 50 individuals.

I found the user interface to be quite flexible. For example you can drag pictures to people it’s already found instead of typing their names and selecting whether it is a new or known person.

It did seem to repeatedly show me pictures I had told it to ignore but with a small number of photos it was not too annoying.

I do not like to have multiple copies of photos on my PC – the master managed by Lightroom and then a small copy for Picasa. But this was in the nature of a test so I did not worry much about the optimum workflow.

The face recognition is surprisingly accurate but it did come up with several false identities. It is amazing for free software.

Maybe now Picasa has been trained to recognize the main people I want to identify in my photos I can point it at my Lightroom masters. I want to be able to tell it “do not bother with anybody outside this set I have identified already”.

If you try it let me know how you get on.

Did I mention that Picasa is a free download? I like free.

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