Monday, December 9, 2013

Google+ Auto Awesome Photos

Fancy features for people that just take pictures.

In 2013, Google launched a powerful set of free photo customization features that it has been continually improving and enhancing in an effort to automatically take your photos from normal to awesome! The feature set includes tools such as color/brightness/contrast enhancements, stitching together a string of photos to make panoramic views, converting multiple shots of the same thing into animated gifs and more.

For the Holiday season they have added some animations to some of your static photos so that a snowy winter scene takes on a soft falling snow animation and your magnificent christmas tree gets a sparkle.

One of the most extravagant features is something they call Auto Awesome Movie, this feature actually takes a set of photos and videos that you have taken of an event or similar, they use the term 'experience,' and creates a movie for you, complete with music and filters to set the mood. You can make edits to the videos and even create your own Video using your photo and video collection on Google+.

At the time of this writing, the full feature set includes:
  • Eraser - Take 3 or more similar pictures of the same structure or landmark and Eraser can eliminate moving items, such as cars or people, to create a beautiful image of just your desired object. 
  • Action - Take a set of pictures of a person in motion and Action will put them together into an action shot, showing all of the movement in a single image. I expect we'll see a lot of these at the Olympics.
  • Pano - Take several pictures that have overlapping landscape scenery and Pano brings them together to create one long panoramic image.
  • HDR - Take low, medium and high exposure pictures of the same thing from the same position and HDR will create a single High Dynamic Range image. 
  • Motion - Take 5 or more similar pictures, in relatively rapid succession, and Motion creates a single animated image of the action. Time to use the Time Lapse feature. 
  • Smile - Take several pictures of a group of people, Smile will combine them into a single image that has everyone at their best.
  • Mix - Take several portrait like pictures and Mix can combine them into a photobooth style grid.
  • Video - Combine videos and pictures taken around an experience into a video. 
All of the Auto Awesome images created are placed in your Google+ Photos and your originals are left untouched.

Is it perfect? No, but it is still awesome. I, for one, do not have the Photoshop (or GIMP) skills to blend these photos together any better than this.

Nor do I have the time to add sparkles and animate a tree picture like this.

The bottom line here is that, despite the immense power of the editing tools, you still need to take quality photos with proper exposure levels if you plan to do anything significant with your images. But for most of us, this is pretty amazing and can be very fun too. Just one more reason I am a huge fan of Google+.

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