Shallow Thoughts : tags : imagemagick

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012

Image manipulation in Python

Someone asked me about determining whether an image was "portrait" or "landscape" mode from a script.

I've long had a script for automatically rescaling and rotating images, using ImageMagick under the hood and adjusting automatically for aspect ratio. But the scripts are kind of a mess -- I've been using them for over a decade, and they started life as a csh script back in the pnmscale days, gradually added ImageMagick and jpegtran support and eventually got translated to (not very good) Python.

I've had it in the back of my head that I should rewrite this stuff in cleaner Python using the ImageMagick bindings, rather than calling its commandline tools. So the question today spurred me to look into that. I found that ImageMagick isn't the way to go, but PIL would be a fine solution for most of what I need.

ImageMagick: undocumented and inconstant

Ubuntu has a python-pythonmagick package, which I installed. Unfortunately, it has no documentation, and there seems to be no web documentation either. If you search for it, you find a few other people asking where the documentation is.

Using things like help(PythonMagick) and help(PythonMagick.Image), you can ferret out a few details, like how to get an image's size:

import PythonMagick
filename = 'img001.jpg'
img = PythonMagick.Image(filename)
size = img.size()
print filename, "is", size.width(), "x", size.height()

Great. Now what if you want to rescale it to some other size? Web searching found examples of that, but it doesn't work, as illustrated here:

>>> img.scale('1024x768')
>>> img.size().height()

The built-in help was no help:

>>> help(img.scale)
Help on method scale:

scale(...) method of PythonMagick.Image instance
    scale( (Image)arg1, (Geometry)arg2) -> None :
        C++ signature :
            void scale(Magick::Image {lvalue},Magick::Geometry)

So what does it want for (Geometry)? Strings don't seem to work, 2-tuples don't work, and there's no Geometry object in PythonMagick. By this time I was tired of guesswork. Can the Python Imaging Library do better?

PIL -- the Python Imaging Library

PIL, happily, does have documentation. So it was easy to figure out how to get an image's size:

from PIL import Image
im =
w = im.size[0]
h = im.size[1]
print filename, "is", w, "x", h
It was equally easy to scale it to half its original size, then write it to a file:
newim = im.resize((w/2, h/2))"small-" + filename)

Reading EXIF

Wow, that's great! How about EXIF -- can you read that? Yes, PIL has a module for that too:

import PIL.ExifTags

exif = im._getexif()
for tag, value in exif.items():
    decoded = PIL.ExifTags.TAGS.get(tag, tag)
    print decoded, '->', value

There are other ways to read exif -- pyexiv2 seems highly regarded. It has documentation, a tutorial, and apparently it can even write EXIF tags.

If neither PIL nor pyexiv2 meets your needs, here's a Stack Overflow thread on other Python EXIF solutions, and here's another discussion of Python EXIF. But since you probably already have PIL, it's certainly an easy way to get started.

What about the query that started all this: how to find out whether an image is portrait or landscape? Well, the most important thing is the image dimensions themselves -- whether img.size[0] > img.size[1]. But sometimes you want to know what the camera's orientation sensor thought. For that, you can use this code snippet:

for tag, value in exif.items():
    decoded = PIL.ExifTags.TAGS.get(tag, tag)
    if decoded == 'Orientation':
        print decoded, ":", value
Then compare the number you get to this Exif Orientation table. Normal landscape-mode photos will be 1.

Given all this, have I actually rewritten resizeall and rotateall using PIL? Why, no! I'll put it on my to-do list, honest. But since the scripts are actually working fine (just don't look at the code), I'll leave them be for now.

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[ 15:33 Mar 16, 2012    More programming | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Wed, 13 Apr 2005

PyTopo 0.3

I needed to print some maps for one of my geology class field trips, so I added a "save current map" key to PyTopo (which saves to .gif, and then I print it with gimp-print). It calls montage from Image Magick.

Get yer PyTopo 0.3 here.

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[ 17:56 Apr 13, 2005    More programming | permalink to this entry | comments ]