Automatic number plate recognition for photographers?

MikesterMikester Beginner grinnerPosts: 6Registered Users Beginner grinner
edited August 22, 2016 in Sports
I've searched and searched and searched... I take 1000-2000 photos at motocross races and always wondered why tagging the photo with the athletes bike number can't be mostly automated. It would be awesome to be able to show the racers my work the day of without having myself or an assistant tag photos for hours.

We have face recognition, license plate recognition, text recognition. Am I failing in my Google powers, missing some dark corner of the www that has such technology for photographers? I know I'm not the only one out there that does this. I saw the barcode system... Won't work in my case. I like to get more creative than just shooting head on and I can't imagine getting all riders to add a barcode to their gear.

In lieu of automation, what tips and tricks do my fellow dgrinners use in such cases? Also how long do you typically spend keywording? Someday I'd like to add riders names, bike brand, race class etc for easy searching but right now bike numbers seems to be all I can do with the amount of time I have.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Mike (longtime lurker):deal

www.mkmpics.com

Comments

  • aktseaktse Major grins Posts: 1,928Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 4, 2011
    Mikester wrote: »
    In lieu of automation, what tips and tricks do my fellow dgrinners use in such cases? ... Someday I'd like to add riders names, bike brand, race class etc for easy searching but right now bike numbers seems to be all I can do with the amount of time I have.

    Code replacement (well, more like a macro replacement) and PM is the usual solution for sports shooters and newspapers.

    There was even a thread about this a few weeks ago.
  • MikesterMikester Beginner grinner Posts: 6Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited April 5, 2011
    aktse wrote: »
    Code replacement (well, more like a macro replacement) and PM is the usual solution for sports shooters and newspapers.

    There was even a thread about this a few weeks ago.

    Thanks for the response! I came across that thread in my searching. Code replacement sounds like it will help once I decide to tag more than just a number and create rosters. I still can't believe there isn't a number recognition program. If anyone comes across anything please let us know!

    -MM
  • KikopriceKikoprice Major grins Posts: 153Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 5, 2011
    PM and somebody who can type quick.

    BTW I like the pricing on your site. How are sales?
  • MikesterMikester Beginner grinner Posts: 6Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited April 6, 2011
    Kikoprice wrote: »
    PM and somebody who can type quick.

    BTW I like the pricing on your site. How are sales?

    I'm getting really quick with the number pad and ctrl+right arrow! Sales are slow this year. The MX scene in CO was pretty used to same day prints from another photog that doesn't come around much anymore.

    I also work for an outdoor advertising printer that's dabbling in high end prosumer prints. So I've been trying to push posters and canvas wraps through my work... I think it's confusing a lot of my clients; mixing ordering through smugmug and ordering through me for my work prints.
  • KikopriceKikoprice Major grins Posts: 153Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    I hear ya, same on the sales out here. Basketball was good, baseball..slow so far
  • MikesterMikester Beginner grinner Posts: 6Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited April 6, 2011
    Kikoprice wrote: »
    I hear ya, same on the sales out here. Basketball was good, baseball..slow so far

    Well here's to a better summer! beer.gif
  • Rick_RRick_R Big grins Posts: 15Registered Users Big grins
    edited April 8, 2011
    Mikester wrote: »
    I've searched and searched and searched... I take 1000-2000 photos at motocross races and always wondered why tagging the photo with the athletes bike number can't be mostly automated. It would be awesome to be able to show the racers my work the day of without having myself or an assistant tag photos for hours.
    ...

    Hello: that would be one piece of software that I would buy in an instant. I shoot Mt bike races and have the same issue for finding specific riders in a large start groups (somewhat needle in the haystack). I use Lightroom to sort and process all of my photos and found a way to include the Plate # in the file name which seems to work for me.

    Basic process is done when sorting and deciding which photos to process and post. I include the Plate # in the TITLE field in the METADATA panel on the right (library module). I only do this for photos I identify with as a PICK (P key). Then process all of the picked photos as normal. I then add the TITLE field in the exported file name when exporting the photo. I use the TITLE as the first field in the file name and then can sort by file name which puts all of the same Plate # photos together.

    While this adds a little time to the sort process (additional 20~30 minutes), it really makes finding a specific # much easier later. There are some riders that either lose the plate or that is not seen in the photo, but the majority (over 80% are correctly identified and makes finding the orphans much easier.

    Sorry for being long winded, but this method works for me (until the Plate # ID program comes along). Any questions or issues, please feel free to contact me.

    Regards
    rick
  • ovisopaovisopa Beginner grinner Posts: 3Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited August 9, 2011
    Picasa vs Photo mechanic?
    Any of you have used Picasa? I'm curious what you think about it in comparison to Photo mechanic, I have 150k photos in picasa, and also looking to find a software that can identify a number in a photo but didn't had any luck so far. At motocross races seems to be a little easier to tag as I can see the number while in thumbnail mode (enlarged thumbnails) but at enduro races or MTB, where the number is much smaller and sometimes dirty, I have to view the full photo to see the number. The autocomplete function of picasa is realy great but I'm curios what is your opinion, if any of you used also Picasa . I don;t care about the editing process, let's keep it simple, focus on tagging.
  • fredjclausfredjclaus Concierge Photographer Posts: 759Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 9, 2011
    I have used PicAsa for years and it works ok. When you say you have pictures in PicAsa you really don't. They are in your pictures directory, PicAsa just gives you a shortcut to them. I have never heard of photo mechanic but I wonder if Adobe Bridge might do what you want.


    ---
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    Fred J Claus
    Commercial Photographer
    http://www.FredJClaus.com
    http://www.Fredjclaus.com/originals

    Save on your own SmugMug account. Just enter Coupon code i2J0HIOcEElwI at checkout
  • Scott293Scott293 Major grins Posts: 369Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 9, 2011
    Mikester wrote: »
    Thanks for the response! I came across that thread in my searching. Code replacement sounds like it will help once I decide to tag more than just a number and create rosters. I still can't believe there isn't a number recognition program. If anyone comes across anything please let us know!

    -MM

    Photo Mechanic is the way to go....Once you creat your roster with # and name with sponser all you have to do is \4\ and rider #4 John Doe with team Pepsi pops up. If you put all the riders in before the race all you have to do is enter there # it works great and the support is second to none!!
    Scott Davis

    Nikon D70,D2H,D300,Nikkor 300mm f2.8,Nikkor 80-200 f2.8, Nikkor 24-70 AF-S f2.8,Nikkor 50 f1.8

    www.ScottDavis.smugmug.com
  • ovisopaovisopa Beginner grinner Posts: 3Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited August 10, 2011
    fredjclaus wrote: »
    I have used PicAsa for years and it works ok. When you say you have pictures in PicAsa you really don't. They are in your pictures directory, PicAsa just gives you a shortcut to them. I have never heard of photo mechanic but I wonder if Adobe Bridge might do what you want.

    I ment I have pictures in picasa as a database for managing all those photos, I know the pictures are in the folder I initially created when downloading from camera, I have a dedicated HDD with a single partition, only for photos. My picasa database is stored on C drive and uses 19GB of diskspace.. this is picasa saving thumbanils and other informations.

    Scott293 wrote: »
    Photo Mechanic is the way to go....Once you creat your roster with # and name with sponser all you have to do is \4\ and rider #4 John Doe with team Pepsi pops up. If you put all the riders in before the race all you have to do is enter there # it works great and the support is second to none!!

    But M + roster for me sounds very similar to what Picasa is doing without any help from other program, anyone can confirm me? In picasa I save my kewords (IPTC) like this "34CROSS2011 Rider Name" or "456RBR2009 Rider name" (The red leters are the shortcut of a race name, RBR comes from Red Bull Romaniacs)

    After I add the first time a keyword, for example "23CROSS2011 name" when I try to type again 23 in the keyword field, a dropdown list shows all the keywords starting with this number, like in the animation bellow.

    Is your workflow the same with PM and roster? If yes than it won't help me to much to swich from Picasa to PMechanic because when I have a huge amount of photos, 1000 - 3000 on a multiday race, taging every picture takes alot of time :( I just finished tagging Romaniacs photos .. what a pain !!!

    picasa_animation.gif
  • ovisopaovisopa Beginner grinner Posts: 3Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited August 11, 2011
    Nobody around to tell me how you can add tags in Photo Mechanic compared to Picasa (screenshot I made above)

    In PhotoMechanic:
    1. Can you add keywords while in thumbnail mode by selecting 1 or more thumbnails?
    2. can you easily change the size of thumbnails ?
    3. Do you have to press some shortcut for the keyword window to appear, or it's already on the screen all the time in thumbnail and full size view ?

    Thank you in advance
  • Scott293Scott293 Major grins Posts: 369Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2011
    ovisopa wrote: »
    Nobody around to tell me how you can add tags in Photo Mechanic compared to Picasa (screenshot I made above)

    In PhotoMechanic:
    1. Can you add keywords while in thumbnail mode by selecting 1 or more thumbnails?
    2. can you easily change the size of thumbnails ?
    3. Do you have to press some shortcut for the keyword window to appear, or it's already on the screen all the time in thumbnail and full size view ?

    Thank you in advance

    Go to www.camerabits.com and download a trial verson and see what you think.
    Scott Davis

    Nikon D70,D2H,D300,Nikkor 300mm f2.8,Nikkor 80-200 f2.8, Nikkor 24-70 AF-S f2.8,Nikkor 50 f1.8

    www.ScottDavis.smugmug.com
  • GlortGlort Major grins Posts: 1,015Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 17, 2011
    [QUOTE=Mikester;1589035 Sales are slow this year. The MX scene in CO was pretty used to same day prints from another photog that doesn't come around much anymore.
    [/QUOTE]

    Until you found the software to recognise the numbers ( which i'd be interested in too!), instead of worrying about tagging the shots id be just catergorising them into the races.
    Now I'm sure your saying that's no good etc but I think there are some things to consider.

    Getting the shots in front of your customers ASAP is THE most impotrant thing. I shoot 3-5K+ shots on average ( have done 15K plus at one 12 hour event) and merely put them into overall classes. Some are age, some are the ring or arena, some are the race some are the Club/ group. Just depends.

    I do onsite sales so I HAVE to have the images up ASAP. Often that is within 10 Minutes of the event finishing.

    Now I Imagine what your thinking is that the roups will be too large. I ran into the problem a couple of months back where the software I use to create the gallerys ( Jalbum) threw a wobbly we hadn't come across before. Turned out it can only put 1000 images in a single catergory and we had exceded that... by about a 3rd.
    The only complaint we got was that people couldn't find the images that the software overwrote, not the amount of shots the people had to search through.

    now I'm not for a secind suggesting that you dont worry about such massive galleries. It caught us by surprise as one catergory of event got cancelled so everyone went and did the other instead and rather than there being 4 roughly even competitions, it turned out that there were 4 in the morning and only one all afternoon.
    We subsequently broke the gallery into morning, 12-2pm and after 2 pm. That was more than enough for the people there.

    We normally try to keep the galleries as small as possible and upload frequently to keep the images recent depending on the event. some I do I don't even bother opening the trailer till after lunch because no one comes near us till then anyway and we can concerntrate on creating more images to sell later which works well.

    The other thing we find repeatedly at every event with mixed galleries of all competitors in that event is that they see otehr peoples pick and will go tell them about good shots they see which brings them over to us. When someone is saying what a great shot that is and how much they love it, even if the people are not all that enthused with it themselves, the excitement and " Peer pressure" often leads them to buying it. Sometimes friends will even by it for each other.
    Great way to promote sales and this isn't just a here and there, I would say it makes a recogniseable percentage of our sales that happen that way.

    If you are finding "difficulty" with your sales because of not doing them onsite, up the ante and give the people what they want. I wouldn't bother getting out of bed to do an event if I had to sell it online. It's bloody useless for the people I work with. Doing onsite Viewing is neither difficult or expensive to set up but WILL make a huge difference to your bottom line. It simply can't be beat unless you can get prebooked and sold coverages which would not be easy in your market,

    Having all the images of a rider in one gallery is nice however having the images up on the day for the people to see, even race by race is unbeatable.
    If you have doubts, why don't you try it? Put the images up race by race however you do it now straight away and have them available for the riders to see while you muck round with the catergorising which you can add on later giving them 2 galleries to look at. If your putting them online you should be able to look at your web stats to see how many hits you have on each gallery collection. I'll bet that the race by race side get at least as many hits as the rider numbered ones and if you have the race galleries up first, I gaurantee you'll get more.

    If your doing this wok regularly, going to onsite sales is something that you really need to do to get any sort of worthwhile return.
  • rrauxrraux Beginner grinner Posts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited March 2, 2012
    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but do you think something like this Bib Recognition software is what you're looking for? I'd love to hear more from you through the website if it is.
  • GlortGlort Major grins Posts: 1,015Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 9, 2012
    That is a manual tagging service. Could be handy to many if they are reliable and quick enough but wouldn't be much good for the onsite sales. I believe there is also another company that is offering the same thing although I don't recall the name.
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Posts: 4,542Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 9, 2012
    rraux wrote: »
    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but do you think something like this Bib Recognition software is what you're looking for? I'd love to hear more from you through the website if it is.

    Looks neat!
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,227Administrators moderator
    edited March 14, 2012
    I wonder if the Bibmatch folks will have trouble with mr. automated race photography?
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • Mike JMike J Having Fun! Posts: 1,029Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 20, 2012
    ovisopa wrote: »
    Nobody around to tell me how you can add tags in Photo Mechanic compared to Picasa (screenshot I made above)

    In PhotoMechanic:
    1. Can you add keywords while in thumbnail mode by selecting 1 or more thumbnails?
    2. can you easily change the size of thumbnails ?
    3. Do you have to press some shortcut for the keyword window to appear, or it's already on the screen all the time in thumbnail and full size view ?

    Thank you in advance
    I take 2000-3000 images at a ski race and tag them all using bib numbers. Could not live without photomechanic. I can tag 2000 images in about an hour. Granted I usually have sequence of 8 images in a row with the same bib number and for most races the bibs go in sequentially order. I keyword in thumbnail mode. Select the photos that should have the same keywords, ctrl-i to bring up the stationary, hit tab a couple of times to get to the keyword field, enter the keyword tag which is something like \44\ which then gets expanded to 044, White, MRT, SL, Meadows Challenge, 2012. The slowest part is using the mouse to hit the apply and close button. I spend maybe 30 minutes setting up the replacement file for each race. So all told maybe 90 minutes to keyword a race.
    Mike J

    Comments and constructive criticism always welcome.
    www.mikejulianaphotography.com
    Facebook
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Posts: 4,542Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 20, 2012
    rraux wrote: »
    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but do you think something like this Bib Recognition software is what you're looking for? I'd love to hear more from you through the website if it is.

    I'm not in the market (well, at least not now), but wondering if it would work with numbers on a car.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
  • jheftijhefti Hyperope Posts: 734Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 20, 2012
    mercphoto wrote: »
    I'm not in the market (well, at least not now), but wondering if it would work with numbers on a car.

    I don't know it it's commercially available, but there is software that can automatically read a license plate. I know this because my transponder regularly fails at the bridge toll booths, yet the toll still shows up on my monthly statement because a camera took a picture of my license plate and charged my account.

    From a software perspective, it's not too hard to translate letters and numbers in an image to their digital equivalent. However, if one wants this to be done automatically across an entire image it might be a bit of a challenge because there may be many numbers in the image. Still, it seems like a solvable problem...
  • KLOCKLOC Beginner grinner Posts: 4Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited March 21, 2012
    That license plate reading stuff is called ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition)

    Some ANPR libraries are available:

    JavaANPR: http://javaanpr.sourceforge.net/
    DTK ANPR SDK: http://www.dtksoft.com
  • jheftijhefti Hyperope Posts: 734Registered Users Major grins
    edited March 22, 2012
    KLOC wrote: »
    That license plate reading stuff is called ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition)

    Some ANPR libraries are available:

    JavaANPR: http://javaanpr.sourceforge.net/
    DTK ANPR SDK: http://www.dtksoft.com

    Hmmm...a little bit of plumbing and this could work for photographers!
  • fraserafrasera Beginner grinner Posts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited October 17, 2013
    Automatic bib tagging software
    Hello Mike,

    Not sure if you still looking but maybe this will help other photographers out their who are thinking the same thing. We are currently developing software to automatically recognize number plates (bibs). If anyone is keen for a free trial in exchange for some feedback on the software send me an email at ndrew@racenumbertagger.com or sign up at http://www.racenumbertagger.com/ as we would like to help you out.

    Thanks,
    Andrew Fraser.
  • vintagekeysvintagekeys Beginner grinner Posts: 7Registered Users Big grins
    edited August 22, 2016
    I use CapCity Sports media for tagging
    CapCity Sports Media will bib tag right to your smugmug gallery. They do it by hand for $0.05 per image. They use your assistant login for security and turn around is typically under 24 hours. I HIGHLY recommend them....

    You can just upload to smugmug like usual and they do the rest. Super easy workflow.

    http://www.capcitysportsmedia.com/Bib-Tagging-Smugmug
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