Photoshopping The Weather

Photo editing algorithm changes weather, seasons automatically

From the post:

We may not be able control the weather outside, but thanks to a new algorithm being developed by Brown University computer scientists, we can control it in photographs.

The new program enables users to change a suite of “transient attributes” of outdoor photos — the weather, time of day, season, and other features — with simple, natural language commands. To make a sunny photo rainy, for example, just input a photo and type, “more rain.” A picture taken in July can be made to look a bit more January simply by typing “more winter.” All told, the algorithm can edit photos according to 40 commonly changing outdoor attributes.

The idea behind the program is to make photo editing easy for people who might not be familiar with the ins and outs of complex photo editing software.

“It’s been a longstanding interest on mine to make image editing easier for non-experts,” said James Hays, Manning Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Brown. “Programs like Photoshop are really powerful, but you basically need to be an artist to use them. We want anybody to be able to manipulate photographs as easily as you’d manipulate text.”

A paper describing the work will be presented next week at SIGGRAPH, the world’s premier computer graphics conference. The team is continuing to refine the program, and hopes to have a consumer version of the program soon. The paper is available at http://transattr.cs.brown.edu/. Hays’s coauthors on the paper were postdoctoral researcher Pierre-Yves Laffont, and Brown graduate students Zhile Ren, Xiaofeng Tao, and Chao Qian.

For all the talk about photoshopping models, soon the Weather Channel won’t send reporters to windy, rain soaked beaches, snow bound roads, or even chasing tornadoes.

With enough information, the reporters can have weather effects around them simulated and eliminate the travel cost for such assignments.

Something to keep in mind when people claim to have “photographic” evidence. Goes double for cellphone video. A cellphone only captures the context selected by its user. A non-photographic distortion that is hard to avoid.

I first saw this in a tweet by Gregory Piatetsky.

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