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Finding similar photos

From: Up and Running with Photoshop Elements 10

Video: Finding similar photos

The Organizer has some really powerful features to help you find particular photos. In the last movie, I introduced the Text Search feature here. If you go to the arrow to the right of the Text Search field, you will find three other commands. These will help you to find photos based on similarity. Let's take a look at each. We'll start with Visual Similarity Search. I am going click to close this menu, and let's say that you take lots of pictures of sunsets, like I do. I can use that command to help find many of the other sunset pictures that I've taken, and that I've brought into this catalog.

Finding similar photos

The Organizer has some really powerful features to help you find particular photos. In the last movie, I introduced the Text Search feature here. If you go to the arrow to the right of the Text Search field, you will find three other commands. These will help you to find photos based on similarity. Let's take a look at each. We'll start with Visual Similarity Search. I am going click to close this menu, and let's say that you take lots of pictures of sunsets, like I do. I can use that command to help find many of the other sunset pictures that I've taken, and that I've brought into this catalog.

I will click on one of my sunset photos here, and then I go up to the Text Search menu. I'll click the arrow and I'll choose Visual Similarity Search. When you click this, you may get a prompt asking if you want Elements to index your photos. Go ahead and click yes if you see that prompt. Elements just searched through all the photos in my catalog, and it's now displaying those that it thinks are most similar to the sunset that I selected. It's displaying those in order of perceived similarity. The tag under each photo indicates how similar each photo is to the one I selected, based on color and shape, which are the parameters that Elements uses in all of these Similarity Searches.

Elements did an okay job to start out. It did find a couple of sunset photos, and even though these are different colors than my original photo, and the clouds are different shapes, Elements is able to recognize them as sunsets from all the many different photos in this catalog. It did find some other photos that aren't sunsets at all; these umbrellas, and this building, and some more umbrellas, but here it's found another sunset. If I want to refine these results, I go to this Color/Shape slider that popped up, and I'll drag toward Color to emphasize color in the search, over shape.

And that did change the results. This photo now moved up in the rankings of similarity, and I see down here that there's another sunset photo. Another way I can refine the results is by adding up to a total of four photos to the search parameters. To do that I'll go up to this bar, and I'll click the plus symbol to the right of my first photo, and that opens this box with a question mark. I will get another photo that's also a sunset, and I'll drag it from the Media Browser up into that box, and release, and that changes the results again.

So the first four photos that Elements returned are indeed sunsets. If I want to close this pop-up menu, I can click this icon right here, and when I want to go back and see all my photos again, I'll click Show All. Now let's take a look at Object Search. This is a new feature in Elements 10 that will detect the same object across photos. For example, a pet that appears in lots of your photos. You define the object, and this command will find photos that contain that object, even if the object was shot in a different setting, or at a different scale, or in different lighting.

Again, I can work in Thumbnail View, or in Folder Location view as I am now. In this folder, I'm going to select one of these photos of a bird, and then I will go up to the Text Search field, I'll click the arrow, and I'll choose Object Search. That zooms in on that photo, and it brings up this box that I can use to define the object. I'll click in the box and I'll drag it over what I think are the most defining features of the bird: his eye, and part of his beak. And then I can click on any of the anchor points and drag to change the scale of this box.

I try not to get too much of the background inside the box, because it's the bird that's the object. Then I'll click this Search Object label, and Elements goes out and looks through my entire catalog, and found these photos of the bird. I can refine these results, just like I did the Visual Similarity search, by using the Color/Shape slider -- I'll try dragging this toward Color, for example -- and by adding to the photos that are in the search parameters by clicking the plus symbol and dragging other photos of the bird up there.

You may see a yellow rectangle on top of your photos, like this. You can hide that rectangle by going to the Options menu and choosing Hide Highlights. So as you can see, these results are imperfect, but they got me a lot of the way to where I wanted to be. I have a lot of my bird photos now available at the top of my Media Browser. When I'm done with this search, I'll click Show All, and that took me back to Folder Location view. To show you the last similarity feature, Duplicate Search, I'm going to go into the Thumbnail View by going up to the Display menu and choosing Thumbnail View.

This is where you're most likely to do this search. Duplicate Photo Search comes in really handy in order to find any duplicates you have of a particular photo in your catalog so you can decide whether to delete those extras from your catalog. It's also useful if you have multiple versions of a particular photo, say different edits that you'd applied to the photo, and you want to group all those together into a virtual grouping called a stack. So here is how it works. Right now, I am looking at all the photos in my catalog. I could narrow this search to just photos in a particular album, if I had one, or just photos with a particular keyword tag by selecting those tags here, but I'm going to search through my entire catalog for now.

I'll click the arrow to the right of the Text Search field, and I'll choose Duplicate Photo Search. In each row, Elements is now showing me photos that it thinks are duplicates of one another, and it is right about a lot of these. These are the same photo, these three are the same photo, now these two are the same, and these are similar. So what Elements is doing is showing me not only exact duplicates, but near duplicates as well. If I scroll down, I can see more suggested duplicates. One of the reasons to do this is to clean up your catalog, removing any extras that you don't need of a particular photo.

Now, be careful about doing this, because I don't want you to delete photos from the exercise files that you'll need to use in later movies in this course. But here, there is a duplicate photo that you can remove. When I move my mouse over any of these thumbnails, I see the path and the name of the photo. So here is a photo in the 02-02 folder that I'm going to delete, because it's the same as the photo next to it. I'll select the photo, and then I'll go down to the bottom left of the screen, and I'll click Remove from Catalog.

That removes this item from my Organizer catalog, but it doesn't delete it from my hard drive. The other thing I can do with these suggested duplicates is to stack them together into virtual groupings. So here, for example, I see that this is a photo that I labeled edited, and this is a non-edited version of the same photo. I can group these together by selecting one, and then holding the Command key on the Mac, the Control key on the PC, and selecting the other, and then I'll go over here and I'll click Stack, and that stacks those two photos into a virtual group.

If I click this arrow, I can see them both. If I click the arrow again, that collapses the two photos into one spot. When I am done here, I'll click done, and that takes me back into my Media Browser, and you can see my photo stack here, which I can expand like this, or contract like this. So this is just way to clean up my Media Browser, putting similar photos together. If I ever want to unstack these, I can right-click, and choose Stack>Unstack Photos. So give these three visual similarity searches a try on your own photos.

Don't be discouraged if you don't get perfect results every time. These are new and complex features, and they're evolving with each version of Elements, but I think you will be surprised at how many times these visual search features do find the similar photos that you were looking for.

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Up and Running with Photoshop Elements 10

29 video lessons · 5524 viewers

Jan Kabili
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