I recently went on vacation and took close to 1,000 photographs. As usual there are some good ones, bad ones, blurry ones, etc.
In order to expedite post-processing, I was wondering if there is any software out there that can "pre-screen" a batch of photos and identify photos that are over-exposed, under-exposed, blurry, and other characteristics that may identify potentially less-desirable photographs. The ideas is that by pre-screening, it should make quick work of sorting through those groups to find the good ones, and delete the rest. Then I can spend more time looking at the ones that really matter.
I understand that every photograph is unique, and there are some great photographs that break every rule of thumb, but I thought this might be a quick way to speed up my workflow.
Photoshop Elements does have an autoanalysis function which does some of this - it tries to detect if the photos are blurred, if there are faces in them etc. I wouldn't say it is brilliant. For example you may actually want out of focus components in your photograph and the automated algorithm will still mark it as blurred.
I don't think 1000 photos is actually that many to manually go through in a workflow process using something like Lightroom. Start from an initial scan marking as rejected those that are obviously unusable and then refine down using ratings, colour painting and tags as you see fit.
I use Lightroom to sort through photos. In the Library module I set the filter to Flagged and Unflagged, then make a photo fill the screen. Then I just start hitting the right arrow key or the "x" key. "X" marks the photo as "rejected" and makes it no longer visible. It's easy to jet through 1000 photos in no time. Once I've gone through all photos, I just choose to Delete Rejected Photos, and I'm done.
I don't know myself of applications that can automatically screen potentially flawed pictures for you but I wouldn't use them, At least not blindly.
Technical merit is just part of what a photo is and some of the most meaningful images happen to be technically flawed and, in many cases, preferable to a more technically perfect one that, for instance, has poorer composition or less of what Cartier Bresson called "the decisive moment".
Also, some flaws can be fixed, or improved in editing. While focus and blur are pretty much impossible to correct (though this can change in the future), it can add an interesting or acceptable effect sometimes. Exposure, for instance is one of those. A slighly over or under exposed image (specially it taken in RAW) shouldn't be preferred to a "perfectly" exposed one on this merit alone, because that can easily be fixed.
As an example, this picture was a one off shot that came out almost 3EV overexposed, because the camera was with the wrong settings. Yet thanks to the latitude provided by RAW files if could be recovered but it would have been discarded by an automated process.
So, I second answers before mine, saying that a workflow efficiently supported is better than an automated process. 1000 pictures is quite manageable in Lightroom within an hour or two.
I know I am posting far after the OP asked, but I actually was looking around for something that would help me at least start the process of weeding things out (1000's of bracketed images).
I made a simple tool to scan a directory of images and move over/underexposed images into a different folder. It is not perfect and by no means allows the artistic freedoms that photography does (but it helps save me time). What it technically does is get the average pixel value of each image (from 0 - 1.0) and then you can keep or reject based on thresholds that can be set. Check out the docs on my github for more info.
With this tool, I can then just double check that all of the images are ok to delete (moving out those that are actually wanted) and wipe everything else in one first pass, saving me tons of time.
Anyways, thought I would share and happy shooting!