Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sweetgum scrunchies and the cat as architecture

Sometime back I read this Garden Rant post by Amy Stewart (which was inspired by another post linked therein) about using Google's search-by-image feature for horticultural images, and had fun playing with it for a while (okay, for a few hours).  I think Google may have made a few improvements since July, but not enough yet to use image search to ID plants, i.e., drag your photo into the search box and have it come up with an identical flower or whatever.  In fact, you are lucky if you get a flower at all; matching colors seems to be the point, which is probably nice for artists but not for gardeners.  Well, except that it's funny.

The more artistic or unusual a photo you use, the more interesting the results.  I popped in this photo of sweetgum leaves I took yesterday:

(That delicate green background is rampant ground ivy.  Please to ignore.)  And got back... hair scrunchies:

You can sorta kinda see the resemblance, right?  It did, about six images down, come up with one of leaves... maple leaves, but whatever.

Put in an interesting carrot I grew, get back... the goddess Flora and a cocker spaniel.

Last time around I tried a photo of my cat when he was a kitten:

And got back:

which was very amusing.  This time, the search did return some actual cats, although for some reason the top image is architectural:

And I also got this:
I think we are in the early stages of something that could eventually be useful but for now is just entertaining, like translation programs used to be before they improved enough to be occasionally reliable.  Something to play with next time it rains, though.


  1. I tried that too, though at least I did get flowers. I had better luck using the image search with "purple flower" as a search!

  2. It does help narrow the search if you put words in as well as the image - but what fun is that?