Landscape photography is hard, no matter how beautiful an environment you’re shooting in. You need to be well-versed in composition, deal with weather conditions, know how to adjust your camera settings for the best possible shot, and then edit it to come up with a pleasing picture.
Google might be close to solving the last part of that puzzle: a couple of its Machine Perception researchers have trained a deep-learning system to identify objectively fine landscape panorama photos from Google Street View, and then artistically crop and edit them like a human photographer would. Here’s some of its handiwork:
“It's both terrifyingly interesting and interestingly terrifying”
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The results don’t just speak for themselves: Google showed a bunch of these photos, along with others from various sources, and asked several pro photographers to grade them for quality; about 40 percent of Google’s submissions were perceived as being created by ‘semi-pro’- or ‘pro’-level photographers.
What’s especially interesting is that the AI is capable of applying contextually meaning adjustments in different parts of each photograph, making for dramatic lighting and more compelling images – as opposed to simply applying a filter to the entire picture or adding something predictable like a vignette.
I imagine this research will eventually find its way into Google Photos’ editing tools, or in the company’s other mobile editing app, Snapseed.