Lightroom, Picasa, face recognition

I can't believe that after all this time, there's still no face recognition built into Lightroom. WTF, guys. Quit slacking.

But, it turns out that the desktop version of Picasa is fantastic at face recognition. It's ability to spot faces and realize that two faces are the same person is nothing less than spooky. And it doesn't even phone home, which is totally surprising, since I thought it was official Google policy that none of their software should function at all if the Google Plus proboscis is not firmly seated and hungrily slurping your vein.

It's too bad that face recognition is the only thing that Picasa is good at. The interface is an incomprehensible mess. Interface elements bounce all over the place, none of the checkboxes remember their state from one usage to the next, and the scrollbars are... well they're not really scrollbars, they're more like some kind of hallucinatory acid-trip.

It's truly dreadful.

I guess my plan is to let it tag the faces, then figure out some safe-ish way to extract that info back into the EXIF tags, and re-import into Lightroom.

Apparently I have only 81,041 faces left to go.

There must be a better way.

Previously, previously.

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17 Responses:

  1. coneslayer says:

    I haven't played around with Picasa's face recognition myself, but you should probably check out Jeffrey Friedl's Picasa Face-Recognition Import Lightroom Plugin.

    • jwz says:

      Yes, I've seen it. It doesn't look like it does much other than kinda-sorta-not-really copying Picasa's tags back in to Lightroom's DB. Which might be useful for solving that last 5% of the overall problem, but his registration setup is willfully stupid, so I can't install it.

  2. MattyJ says:

    This helps nobody, but I was slightly freaked out at the quality of the face recognition built into my little pocket camera. I don't use it for anything but it's fairly difficult to trick. If they can fit something like that into a tiny camera seems like it would be cake to put into every photo gallery website, ever.

    • Face detection and face recognition are two different things. Face detection is mostly solved and the algorithms are pretty easy and fast to apply.

      • MattyJ says:

        It actually does recognition. I took a picture of my wife's face, entered her name, now any time I point it at her an orange box with her name near it follows her around. Got my face in there, too.

    • Jon Dowland says:

      I'm afraid more complicated algorithms take up much more physical space than is spare inside a smartphone, at least a few cubic centimetres. That's why the new Macs are so dense-feeling.

  3. Sigh. Picasa used to be brilliantly simple before they kept "improving" it

  4. Only vaguely relevant: the reason that the Mac version of Picasa is such an interface disaster is that... it's not the Mac version. Its the windows version, running under MacWINE, wrapped up in a bundle that pretends to be a real OSX app.

    The fact that it works at all is kind of a miracle.

    • jwz says:


      This pumpkin pie... it tastes a lot like sewer rat.

    • phuzz says:

      But the windows version isn't any better, it's still got the weird not-quite scroll bars, and GUI elements seem to have been placed all over the place with the only overriding logic being that two similar functions should be as far apart as possible, preferably hidden.

  5. djm says:

    Stop speaking mistruths about Google+. It's an ovipositor, not a proboscis.

  6. Fitz says:

    You can get all your Face recognition from Picasa into Lightroom pretty easily -- check out this process:

  7. skreidle says:

    As an aside, I'm a fan of Picasa's interface and functionality, but PicasaWeb went from "functions as a decent extension of Picasa" to "G+fucked". Near as I can tell, they stripped all functionality that doesn't lend itself directly to "share photo or album on G+".

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