Sunday, June 7, 2009 1:47:59 PM
Currently, all my photos are barely organised. My Casio software grouped photos by day and generated a browsable HTML index page. Sort-of OK, but now that I have a new camera I need a new system. Something much simpler.
The ideal system, IMO, is to embed all meta-data inside the photo itself. i.e. use EXIF, IPTC, or whatever tags. No separate indexes, no extra files, no third-party databases or special management software. EXIF and IPTC and common, well-known standards that can be read by lots of software packages. I can just email the JPEG to someone, and the comments, description and other data can be read out again fairly easily.
The problem is getting the description and other meta-data into the JPEG. For some reason, good EXIF editors are hard to find. For a while I had Exifer. This is no longer being developed, but is still an awesome tool for editing EXIF meta-data. The author of Exifer has moved on to my new tool of choice: GeoSetter.
GeoSetter does not have the same EXIF editing capabilities as Exifer. In fact, it's EXIF editing facilities are really rather limited. It's big feature is being able to set the GPS EXIF tags - set the precise location where the photo was taken. It will even take a recorded GPS track and automatically estimate where a photo was taken based on the time. You can also directly edit IPTC meta-data, such as the caption.
The lack of EXIF user comment support was a little disappointing, but easily worked around. The workaround solved another problem I had with embedded meta-data: some of the tools I was using read the EXIF user comment, others looked at the JPEG comment and still others looked at the IPTC caption. What I really needed was some way of setting all those fields at the same time to the same data. Before GeoSetter I had no way of doing that, and so hadn't bothered with tagging my images at all.
GeoSetter uses ExifTool (which are command-line, but GeoSetter handles all that behind the scenes, so you don't need to worry about that), and allows you to add extra ExifTool commands. The following command, set in the GeoSetter GUI to execute after the GeoSetter commands, copies the IPTC caption entered in the GeoSetter GUI to the EXIF user comment and JPEG comment fields:
-execute -Comment<$IPTC:Caption-Abstract -UserComment<$IPTC:Caption-Abstract
That's exactly what I had been looking for. GeoSetter doesn't stop there, though. It also has the ability to collate all the details of all the photos stored under a folder, including sub-folders, and filter and search on numerous criteria.
So, this is how I'm planning on organising my photos. Photos are going to be grouped by day into folders with a YYYYMMDD naming convention. The Casio and Ricoh software does that automatically. I'll be deleting the old Casio web-based index files and relying on the embedded meta-data. If I have somehow managed to lose the meta-data, I might use Exifer to transcribe it from the Casio web files, but I'll have to be in a good mood to bother with that! Photos will be left named as they pop out of the camera. For the Casio that's MMDDNNNN, for the Ricoh that's RIMGNNNN. If any photos need rotating, I'll use the rotating tool built into Windows Explorer. If you haven't already noticed, that preserves all meta-data and performs a lossless rotation when the JPEG is an exact multiple of 8 pixels in both dimensions. Panoramas will be stitched together using Autostitch (I suspect I'll be buying one of the commercial versions of it soonish) and given NNNN-NNNN names based on their source photo's names.
And that's basically it. File management doesn't get any simpler. The only hassle is going back through my several years of photos tagging and describing everything as best I can remember. I think it will be worth it, though.