The Digital Photo Guy

My Brain Has Turned to Jell-O

by on Sep.12, 2010, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

I’m in a Rut

This site was launched on January 29, 2009. Since then, I’ve posted 142 articles plus 40 videos. Some loyal readers and students have followed me for the past 589 days (848,160 minutes). Much of the material comes from trade shows, classes, workshops and seminars I’ve attended. Still other posts are the result of articles I’ve read in magazines, books and, of course, the web. Some comes from readers’ questions and comments but, lately, less and less feedback comes from my readers. Now, I’m burned out. I can’t muster the enthusiasm to write articles and produce videos that no one may be reading.

I’m off to the 1st Annual California Photo Festival in Los Osos next week where I hope to recharge my batteries and get my creative juices flowing again. Until then, I hope you enjoy some recycled articles starting with this first one on Exif tools.

Exif Tools

© 2007 Digital Photo Guy, Inc

I’ve been looking for software to sort and graph my images based on Exif data. You’re probably wrinkling your nose and thinking who cares? Well, here’s how it can be useful. I assume everyone knows what Exif is and what it does but, to be sure, let’s start with a short primer.

Exif (Exchangeable Image File Format) is a standard used by virtually every digital camera manufacturer to embed information about an image in the image file. In other words, the Exif file contains information about information, the very definition of metadata. As an aside, I recently learned that JEIDA (Japan Electronic Industry Development Association), the developer and keeper of the Exif standard says the correct format is “Exif”, not “EXIF”. Anyway, Exif typically contains information such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focal length and a whole host of other data about each image. This makes it easier to analyze your photos and your technique after the fact. In the old days of film, many photographers carried little notebooks in which they kept meticulous notes about each photo. Today, Exif handles most of the technical data. It’s still a good idea to keep notes about location, weather, light and other parameters not yet captured in the Exif file.

Most photo editors can display Exif data by clicking File Info, File Properties or some other such command but, sometimes, you just want a quick peek at the Exif data without launching an editor. For those times, IEXIF from Opanda Studio is the answer. This is FREEWARE that I’ve been using for about 2 years. Generally, I’m hesitant to use or recommend freeware because of the risks but IEXIF came highly recommended by friends so I decided to give it a try.

IEXIF loads itself into the right click menu. Whenever you have a jpeg image on the screen, simply right-click the image and select “View EXIF/GPS/IPTC with IEXIF” and your info is displayed on the screen. You can often do this even for jpegs on a Web site. Of course, if the Exif was stripped out during post-processing, IEXIF will report that there’s no data to display.

If available, IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) data are also displayed. IPTC is a way to embed text data such as name, captions, keywords and location in images. This was developed for photojournalists but is a handy feature for any photographer.

If your camera captures GPS info, that, too, can be displayed. There aren’t many cameras that capture GPS at this time but that will surely change over the next few generations of digital cameras.

A second Exif tool that I find to be extremely useful is an Exif sorter that graphs the data. If, like me, you prefer to see data as charts and graphs, you may want to take a look at ExposurePlot. EP scans all your jpeg images and creates charts and graphs of the incidences of Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO and Focal Length.

Exif data are useful for analyzing photos. For example, when planning to buy a new lens, you can analyze the focal length data and get a good sense of what length lens you use most often. If you want to understand why your photos are soft, you can analyze the aperture and shutter speed combos you’re using. If you want to know how often you change ISO, the information is readily available.

The chart above shows the focal length (blue), ISO (red), aperture (orange) and shutter speed green) that I used during a shoot in Sedona, AZ. Before I leave for Sedona next time, I can see that most of my photos were taken 30mm-60mm with a big spike at 220mm so I probably won’t take my long lenses. For ISO, 70% were at ISO 100 so it will be interesting to see how that compares to my current “stay at ISO 200 minimum” philosophy. As for aperture, I generally stay between f4 and f8 on travel photography and this bears that out. Each chart can be expanded to fill the entire window.

Both programs work only with jpeg at this time and both are lacking some features but both are also free. “Free” can make up for a lot of deficiencies when it comes to non-critical software. As always, if you like this software, look over some of their other offerings. After all, they’re not giving it away just because they’re good people. They’re hoping that you’ll see the benefit and buy some of their other tools. Thanks for reading.

  1.  IEXIF
  2.  Exposure Plot

2 Comments for this entry

  • Pam

    I hear you Lee, about the blogging with no comments from readers. At least once a month I decide to STOP the daily blog, then I get a second wind and keep chugging.

    I’ve enjoyed your posts – good luck in whatever you decide!


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