Help me play with my image collection!
April 8, 2008 5:30 PM   Subscribe

I have a large image collection that I use for illustration reference. Are there any programs (I have a mac, but could get access to a PC if there's something cool) that can play with large collections of images in unexpected ways?

Here are two examples of something I'd like to play with. Since the collection is so large that I can never get an overview, one thing that I could use is something that can pull "X" number of images from a folder, and I can just hit refresh, pulling up unexpected combinations for inspiration. Another thing is something that uses math to maybe pull images and slice or rearrange, flip, make a rorsach, a mandala, etc. Basically I'm not looking for something to make art (I don't really have an interest on sorting things by dominant colors or anything like that) so much as something to use to view my images in new ways with very little manual input from me. Just slamming them together. The more random and simpler to modify variables, the better. Maybe I need to learn to make something myself?

posted by apetpsychic to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Short answer, you can run a web server and a Perl or PHP script, and just select random images in your browser every time you hit reload.

I've done a couple of things like this, at least in your simple "pull up unexpected combinations" area. I'd be happy to share the scripts with you.

Basically you need a script which lists all your images and their locations, then another script which says "get me a random image from that list".

For the more complex slice/dice/flip/invert, i.e. changing the binary image files before they get displayed, you'd need to install a graphics library, for instance ImageMagick but it's still very much doable. How geeky are you?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:41 PM on April 8, 2008

When I want to do something like this I use Piclens. Just load up Firefox or Safari, then point your browser to your folder (Example: C:\pictures)
posted by sanka at 5:51 PM on April 8, 2008

A better PicLens link: (The link Sanka posted goes direct to the Safari version.)

The FireFox version has undocumented support for browsing local folders, but the IE version does not.

disclaimer: i work at cooliris
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:18 PM on April 8, 2008

Have you tried the mosaic screensaver in Leopard? Manual input is almost zero and it's an interesting effect.
posted by joaquim at 6:25 PM on April 8, 2008

A very simple language for image display is processing (WORST LANGUAGE/IDE NAME, EVER -- google much prefers "" in searches). Here's a 30 line program in their image tutorial that creates animated pointillism screensaver-type images from an image you load. The 2d stuff is pretty fast but not blazing for thing like "load 10,000 huge jpegs." For that, you'd probably want to use OpenGL to get at your computer's graphics card.
posted by zpousman at 8:06 PM on April 8, 2008

Animoto makes cool-if-generic videos out of a bunch of your images, but again not great for large collections...
posted by so_necessary at 10:29 PM on April 8, 2008

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