iPhoto09: the vanguard of automatic meta-tagging

No, this is not a review of iLife ’09, or iPhoto. There are already plenty out there. 

Instead I want you, me, us, to think about how that face detection thing can change the way we work. I played with it a bit and while it is not perfect (according to iPhoto my girl friend looks like a guy as soon as she wears a hat…) it shows promises and it is a first step in the automated meta-tagging world. 

As a photographer, I tag all my pictures with at least 3-4 tags: the location, the subject, the dominant color (if any) and the activity (if any). This is a tedious and time wasting process that is probably going to go away in a few years. Lets see how.

Location

Probably the easiest tag to apply to a picture is its location, even more so when it is linked to a GPS coordinate. The possible level of detail here is incredible, once the system knows the approximate location, it can check in the address book if its close to one of your relative house, the internet for a store or important land mark, etc…

Subject

While not perfect, iPhoto face detection works well enough to allow us to see that it is not a gimmick and that more development is going to be done in this field. Imagine if it could recognize pets, houses, bird species… A lot of metadata could be automatically guessed and submitted to the photographer for approval. This would be a big time saver and I am half expecting Aperture 3 (or 4?) to have this feature.

By the way, I did some serious testing to see if iPhoto could recognize cats face and it does not. If is limited to humans… 

Dominant color

If you ever had to create a picture book, you know how useful it is to have all your pictures classified by main color. Again, this is not a new technology, stock photo sites have been using this for years.

Activity

By activity I mean: travel, sports, cooking, etc.. I dont think we will see this kind of automatic meta-tagging soon, but there are ways to make the job easier for us. For example, if from one picture to the next the background and location is the same, the system could suggest the same location as the previous pictures.

Conclusion

This is just the beginning. Automatic meta-tagging is coming and anyone who ever had to tag pictures after a long weekend shooting should be happy.

Aperture team, are you reading?

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...
  • http://www.jmbaird.com Jeffrey M. Baird

    While the meta-tagging in iPhoto09 is great, I am having trouble moving the RAW images and their tags from iPhoto to Aperture. The images move but the location and Faces data are absent. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • admin

      I have not looked into this yet. If I can find some time tomorrow I will give this a shot. My guess would be to simply tag every identified person with his name, which should then import correctly in Aperture.

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