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Google uses AI to create stunning landscape photos
July 23, 2017, 2:45 pm

Google’s latest artificial intelligence (AI) experiment is taking in Street View imagery from Google Maps and transforming it into professional-grade photography through post-processing — all without a human touch.

The project uses machine learning techniques to train a deep neural network to scan thousands of Street View images in California for shots with impressive landscape potential. The software then mimics the workflow of a professional photographer to turn that imagery into an aesthetically pleasing panorama.

Doing the same aesthetic refinement to an image using software can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. Professionals have to manually pick out which lighting effects or saturation filters, for example, result in a more aesthetically pleasing photograph.

Google engineers have been able to train the neural network quickly and efficiently to identify what most would consider superior photographic elements using a relatively new and promising technique in AI research that pits two neural networks against one another and uses the results to improve the overall system.

Google’s software takes a Street View panorama and crops the photo, applies lighting and coloration changes, and then chooses a filter to apply in a four-step process. To test whether its AI software was actually producing professional-grade images, the engineers asked professional photographers to grade the photos its network produced on a quality scale, while mixing in shots taken by humans. Around two out of every five photos received a score on par with that of a semi-pro or pro.

Google hopes that someday this technique might even help you to take better photos in the real world.



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