Saturday, 12 March 2011

Image Cropping with a Difference

The story starts with a visit to our alternative surgery to see the doctor I wanted. The route took me past a  privately owned lake. I have always regretted not visiting it when there was a tea shop and the lake was open to the public. On my outward journey I spotted two large white birds sat on the island in the middle of the lake. To me they looked like egrets but I couldn't stop to investigate.

On the return journey I was hoping they would still be there as I had the TZ7 with me. Unfortunately their camera spotting radar was in full working order and as soon as I had parked the car on the verge a short distance away they both took flight.

I decide to get as close as I could to the lake but on the only section which could be seen from the roadside only three ducks could be seen over the far side. I took a photo and finished the drive home.

Even at full zoom this is all that could be captured:

Ducks Image 1

This is where an idea arose for an experiment. A short while ago I found out about a program called 'Image Resize Guide' which has the facility to mark objects in a photo which are not to be reduced when the overall photo is. The program can be run as a stand alone or as a plugin. The paid for version can selectively remove objects as well as keeping the size of chosen objects. The free version doesn't have the remove ability.

I loaded the ducks photo, marked the ducks for keeping as they were and then gradually set the program to reduce the rest of the picture. I found it seems to work better if each direction (horizontal and vertical) are processed seperately. It works best where there is not too much detail round the marked subjects. This was the result of a couple of experiments:

Ducks Image 2

It is fascinating to watch as it picks random areas to remove. The result seems to lose clarity apart from the objects marked for keeping which would make sense as a lot of detail needs to be removed in the shrinking process. Also the program seems to pick areas with least detail to reduce more often so distortion sets in but at least the subject of the photo stands out better while keeping the essence of the complete scene. Who says the camera never lies lol.

One nice thing is that the program has several 'how to' videos to help you get started.

If you are interested in the program have a look HERE. It is a fascinating concept.


  1. What a bizarre looking final picture! Looks like an interesting addition to photography though!
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  2. I'll have a look into this John. It looks like another damp dull day.
    It should be achievable manually in Photoshop.
    Good job mallard don't sit in would struggle then.

  3. Hello John. If you couldn't see the original picture the second would probably not appear so bizarre.

  4. Adrian: The technique is apparently called Seam Carving, amongst other things. Some versions of Photoshop have something called 'Content Aware Scaling' which is based on the same idea. If you are interested in how the technique works see:



Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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