Are you wasting time trying to find specific images amongst hundreds of archived folders? Then you’ll be glad to hear there’s now an AI-powered software that provides the solution to find the pictures you’re looking for, called Excire Foto. Here’s how it works.
It can recognize pictures?!?
That’s the first thought I’ve had when my editor approached me to review Excire Search. I was extremely doubtful that any kind of software could successfully realize such a tedious task. Not only do I have thousands of archived photos on my Drobos, but I’ve never used keywords either — or any kind of tagging — in my organizing workflow.
All I have are hundreds of folders filled with RAW files listed in numerical order. There’s absolutely no information in my metadata that gives a clue on what the scene is and no way to find what’s on my pictures without opening them. So…
What is Excire Foto?
It’s an “image retrieval and annotation software” to make AI useful for photographers. It’s been created by several computer scientists experts in machine learning, neural networks, computer vision and deep learning technologies. That’s as technical an answer as my skills allow (just as for electricity … I don’t understand electricity … but I like to use it).
Installation and setup
Setting things up was pretty easy (even for the non-geeky photographer that I am).
Then, add the desired folders. Excire Foto will start automatically to analyze the photos contained in them. Keep in mind that the more folders you import, the longer it will take to process. I’ve added a few month’s worths of work (22,000 images) and it took around 90 minutes to go through.
Don’t expect to open the software for the first time and be able to find your photos through 10 years worth of folders in the snap of a finger. Not yet.
I predict the analyzing process will take several hours when I’ll import a full year of work. If you plan on importing multiple hundred thousand pictures, I’d recommend doing it at night before going to bed. It takes quite a bit of computing power and it might slow down your work.
It’s a long process to begin with but once it’s done, you’re pretty much set forever. All you’ll have to do in the future is to synchronize your new folders and phtoos — if desired — to your existing collection.
On the left are two dedicated tabs — one to access your folders, collections and groups, and another for your search results.
In the middle are individual thumbnails of all your analyzed images.
On the right you’ll see a histogram, list of keywords that have been automatically generated (in this case, for the blue highlighted photo), a keyword heiarchy and various metadata.
How to find your pictures
Four main tools are available. You can access through the Find menu and/or by clicking one of the four icons in the top right of the workspace.
Let’s see what results I get for the same reference photo (highlighted in blue on the top left corner).
Find similar photos
Well … I’m impressed. The AI recognized all the male weightlifters from the same event that had a barbell halfway in front of them. Let’s get on to the next one…
Oh my gosh, this is funny. While results are not 100% accurate, they certainly make sense. It basically shows bald middle-aged men that could be mistaken for one another.
(Fun fact: the “bald” keyword does not seem does not exist but the “feature” is obviously in the search algorithm. Perhaps these computer scientists are not only very intelligent but very polite as well. Ha!)
Find by keyword
I used “Strength Sport” and “Smile”, two of the 12 automatically generated keywords in this picture. There’s a ton of strength related sport photos in my folders and wanted to narrow my research. A total of 640 images showed up, all of them being weightlifting ones with either a real smile or a struggling face that could be mistaken for a smile.
Note: Excire Foto does not only recognize objects like “glasses,” “house” and “flower,” but also qualities such as “dark,” “unsaturated” and “bright.” This can be pretty useful if you’re looking for a mood instead of a scene.
The results are spot-on, all the images showing only single portraits of adult males. I somehow found this research to be less specific than the others as I came up with many different individuals in many different contexts. If you’re taking a lot of portraits, you might want to narrow down your research in order to find exactly what you’re looking for.
No more needles in the haystack
Even though I’ve just started using Excire Foto, I can see its potential to help my workflow. Besides the main reason being a huge time-saving tool, I can envision myself using the software to …
- Curate specific visual content for an article or a project
- Compare different “same looking pictures” from multiple photoshoots
- Automatically apply keywords to XMP files
- Find all the portraits of an athlete I’ve photographed in many occasions
- Dig out some forgotten gems
- Probably other stuff I don’t even imagine yet
How about you? Have you ever used AI technology as a solution to find the pictures you’re looking for? Do you think of the uses you could make of it?