It happens every time you press the shutter. Tiny circuits spring into action and furiously record the information from every sensor pixel onto your memory card. But pixel information is not all that is recorded. With every shutter press, your camera records dozens of interesting details about how the photo was taken. These details are tucked away deep inside the labyrinth of code that comprises your photo file. Photo editing softwares, such as Photoshop or Lightroom, can unlock some of this data for viewing later. But they normally only scratch the surface of the available information by displaying only the most commonly used Exif tags.
To mine the deepest depths of your Exif data, you may want to try a utility called Exiftool. This utility is known for its ability to squeeze every last drop of information from your Exif data. Don’t expect a slick, graphical interface, though. Although there are more user friendly softwares which incorporate the Exiftool engine, we’re going to demonstrate Exiftool where it is at its minimalist best – at the command line.
9 out of 10 adults in America believe that people are over-sharing sensitive personal information. One culprit is the GPS-enabled camera, which can reveal exactly where you were at a specific time by baking the information into photos. If you’re uncomfortable with how specific this EXIF data is, Canon has a solution: fuzzy precision. The company has patented a system that may one day allow its camera users to choose “low precision” EXIF data. This means cameras would record rough and non-specific details of when and where an image was made. Instead of 12:31pm, it might record it was 12-1pm, and instead of a particular location, it might provide a general area on a map.
(via Egami via Canon Watch)
Many photographers, especially those who used to shoot film, still enjoy the feedback and control offered by fully manual lenses. The only problem with using these lenses in the digital age is that modern camera bodies don’t recognize them and therefore add no EXIF lens data to your images; adding that data up until now required you to install a command line tool such as ExifTool and learn complicated prompts. But now there’s an easier way to make these changes happen inside of Lightroom. Read more…
EXIF data embedded in an image file can shed quite a bit of information about a photo, including how it was created and the owner of the copyright. It’s useful, but can be easily stripped away. A new consortium led by three organizations (IPTC, 4A’s, and ANA) is pushing to make metadata permanent. It recently published an Embedded Metadata Manifesto, which states,
Ownership metadata is the only way to save digital content from being considered orphaned work. Removal of such metadata impacts on the ability to assert ownership rights and is therefore forbidden by law in many countries.
[...] Properly selected and applied metadata fields add value to media assets. For most collections of digital media content descriptive metadata is essential for retrieval and for understanding. Removing this valuable information devalues the asset.
Do you want to live in a world where it’s illegal to remove or tamper with a photograph’s EXIF data?
(via NPPA via PopPhoto)
What you see here may be the first leaked photograph shot with the upcoming iPhone 5. The EXIF data claims it was shot with the iPhone 4, but other EXIF details indicate otherwise. Although the leaked image was cropped, the original size of the image was 3264×2448 (roughly 8MP), the rumored resolution found on the next iPhone. The lens info was recorded as “4.3mm f/2.4″, more similar to a point-and-shoot than then 3.85mm f/2.8 lens found on the iPhone 4. Finally, the geotag info in the photo shows it was taken at 37.33216667,-122.03033333 — the location of Apple’s headquarters. Check out the full-res file with EXIF intact here.
Google has added EXIF data to Google Images, allowing you to quickly look up details on how a particular photograph was taken (as long as the data is embedded). Simply click any of your search results to see the details in the panel on the right. They don’t seem to be doing anything with geotag info — displaying where the photo was taken on a Google Map, for example — which is probably a smart choice. Something tells me a lot of people would have a problem with that, even though the data is publicly accessible and baked into the photo itself.
(via Google Operating System)
Thanks for the tip, Hannah!
For photo enthusiasts, Google’s new Google+ social network is something like Flickr mixed with Facebook. It has the social sharing power of Facebook while providing features and tools Flickr users would appreciate thanks to the fact that Google runs a full-fledged photo-sharing service in Picasa (soon to be brought into the Google+ fold and renamed Google Photos). One such feature is the EXIF data section, easily accessed for each photo by Action->Photo Details. Most Facebook users would likely be confused by having a histogram pop up for their images, but for loyal Picasa users using Google+ for sharing and viewing photos, it’s quite a nifty option.
On August 4, 2006, AOL published a text file containing 20 million searches done by 650,000 users over a 3-month period for research purposes. Although the company anonymized the data by showing the users as numerical IDs, people soon realized that many people searched for personally identifiable information (e.g. their names), allowing real names to be put to unique IDs, thus revealing the search history of that individual. After the media caught wind of this, the whole thing was known as the AOL search data scandal.
One of the big advantages of digital photography is that EXIF data is embedded into your images, allowing you to easily learn when and how (and more recently where) a particular photograph was captured. If you still enjoy shooting film, then a solution is to jot down notes about your photography while you’re shooting. The “Field Notebook” is a nifty little notebook published by Etsy user fabriKateShop you can use to record “EXIF data” by hand — especially useful for when you’re taking a film photography course. You can find them for about $12 each over on Etsy.
fabriKate Shop (via Photojojo)
Here’s an interesting snippet from an article published today by David Pogue of the New York Times that describes a trick one photographer uses to overcome the megapixel myth:
A few years back, one of his clients, a stock-photo company, rejected his submissions because they didn’t meet the company’s minimum-resolution requirements. All photos had to be, for example, 10 megapixels or higher.
Tom knew that his five-megapixel photos (or whatever they were) would print perfectly well; he knew that the megapixel myth was at play. But he couldn’t convince the stock agency that its megapixel requirement was based on mythology.
So he took a photo file from a buddy who owned a fancy high-end Canon SLR, pasted in his low-res photo, and dragged it out bigger, so that it filled the full area of the higher-resolution photo. (Why did he start with his buddy’s file? So that the metadata—the invisible information about the photographic settings embedded in every digital photo—would indicate to the stock agency that the picture was taken with that high-end camera.)
Not only was the stock agency fooled, but to this day, many of its customers have used Tom’s phony high-megapixel photos in professional publications. They’ve all been delighted by the quality.
It would be interesting to find out how widespread this kind of fakery is in the photo industry.
Image credit: exif data by jbylund