Friday, April 29, 2022

Image Search and Google Earth for Identifying Pictures

For more than 50 years, my parents used slide film to record family memories. I recently had their 1500+ slides digitally scanned, and I've been working to organize the resulting files. At the outset, the job seemed pretty straightforward. My father had carefully labeled the boxes and trays the slides were in: "High Rock 1953", for example, or "Europe 1978".

However, when I peeked at the slides in a tray labeled "Hawaii" and found dozens of pictures of my sister in her infancy, I knew I was in for more than I had expected. When my father confidently proclaimed that the little girl in a slide I showed him was my cousin when I knew it was my sister, I realized I was on my own.

Among the slides in a set labeled "Jeff Park 1956" was this mountain shot:

I've been to Jefferson Park several times, and the view from there doesn't look like this. I guessed that the slide had been mis-filed. 

One of the wonders of the Internet, in my view, along with song recognition, speech-to-text capability, and worldwide navigation, is image search, whereby search engines return images similar to one you provide. I use this page to perform image searches at Google, Bing, and Yandex simultaneously, because sometimes I get the best results from each of those sites. In this case, Bing volunteered that the picture looked like Mt. Shuksan, and images found by Google and Yandex agreed. 

Mt. Shuksan is nearly 300 miles from Mt. Jefferson.

 Another slide in the "Jeff Park 1956" collection was this one:

I suspected that it was related to the picture of Mt. Shuksan, but I wanted to be sure. I searched for images taken from the top of Mt. Shuksan, but I didn't find anything that looked like this. Then I used Google Earth (another Internet wonder) to virtually plop myself on top of the mountain and look around. When I did, I found this essentially perfect match:

So the picture was, indeed, taken from the summit of Mt. Shuksan. 

From time to time, the power of the Internet really amazes me. Image search made it possible for me to identify an incorrectly labeled mountain, and Google Earth allowed me to determine that a picture I guessed was taken from the top of that mountain over 60 years ago was truly taken there.



kcris said...

God! It is a pleasure to read you even with non-programming posts. Still, such a torture to live in the c++ world without your great advices/books. I miss you so so so much. Hope you're well. And a big thanks, I am forever grateful to you

Scott Meyers said...

Thanks for your very kind words :-)