Curating photography with neural networks

“Computed Curation” is a 95-foot-long, accordion photobook created by a computer. Taking the human editor out of the loop, it uses machine learning and computer vision tools to curate a series of photos from Philipp Schmitt personal archive.

The book features 207 photos taken between 2013 to 2017. Considering both image content and composition the algorithms uncover unexpected connections among photographies and interpretations that a human editor might have missed.

A spread of the accordion book feels like this: on one page, a photograph is centralized with a caption above it: “a harbor filled with lots of traffic” [confidence: 56,75%]. Location and date appear next to the photo, as a credit: Los Angeles, USA. November, 2016. On the bottom of the photo, some tags are listed: “marina, city, vehicle, dock, walkway, sport venue, port, harbor, infrastructure, downtown”. On the next page, the same layout with different content: a picture is captioned “a crowd of people watching a large umbrella” [confidence: 67,66%]. Location and date: Berlin, Germany. August, 2014. Tags: “crowd, people, spring, festival, tradition”.

Metadata from the camera device (date and location) is collected using Adobe Lightroom. Visual features (tags and colors) are extracted from photos using Google’s Cloud Vision API. Automated captions for photos, with their corresponding score confidence, are generated using Microsoft’s Cognitive Services API. Finally, image composition is analyzed using histogram of oriented gradients (HOGs). These components were then considered by a t-SNE learning algorithm, which sorted the images in a two-dimensional space according to similarities. A genetic TSP algorithm computes the shortest path through the arrangement, thereby defining the page order. You can check out the process, recorded in his video below:

 

 

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