Editing exif infos, sorting, browsing, storing and backing up photos

As you probably know, I am a backup maniac. I have multiple physical and online backups of all my data, particulary of all my photos and camera clips. And I also use Flickr service to backup all of them and share some of them too. So what happened let me decide about a lot of issues regarding my photos' management.

Recently I had turned 35 years old, and for my birthday I made to myself an important gift: a Canon Eos 550D. Thanks to 550D photos' resolution and size, and of Flickr Exif Page, I discovered that all vertical oriented photos of my collection have been modified with quality loss by iPhoto, also photos from the past, and I have uploaded to flickr not the originals but the modified ones. Moreover, now that I shot about one thousand photos for each month, iPhoto library was increasing in dimension very much because of a main big database file. And everytime I modify, add or delete a photo, an album, an event or simply I change something inside iPhoto management, iPhoto rebuilds this file. And this file takes a lot of time to be backed up online with Memopal because was around 10Gb the last time.

Meanwhile there was another issue I was mumbling for a long time: about to be still anonymous behind the nick of netnemo and about the property and copyright of my photos.

So I took the decision to dismiss iPhoto and started to rebuild my collection going back to the previosly used photo management without any database structured application but storing the photos as they are, sorting them by date, browsing them with application as ImageBrowser for mac or ZoomBrowser for Windows, storing them without anything else than original name (at least for the last photos, because I had already changed past photos' names) and adding all the other information such as subjects, comments, author, copyright, etc, inside exif's fields and backuping up both on flickr (using flickr uploader, that automatically rotates photos with lossless quality) and Memopal saving a lot of space and time.

Luckily, I have saved all my photos before passing to the Mac system so I have the original date sorted photos up to august 2007. I'm still working on sorting them again but at least I have selected all modified photos that I have uploaded to flickr. But before I started to upload them I worked to change exif information regarding Camera Owner's Name, Author/Artist and Copyright. For this work I used ExifTool, today at version 8.28, a powerful command line tool, using exactly this configuration [between squares are my comment, that have to be avoid]:

-P [to preserve original file's date]
-r [to recurse subdirectories]
-overwrite_original_in_place [to do only if you have a backup of all your photos in an other place]
-OwnerName=your email [the best unique identifier for your equipment is always your email, useful also to let honest people to contact you directly; this field is not long, so pay attention to the email's lenght]
-Artist=your name and surname (your email) [to associate your contact information to the artist of the photo]
-Copyright=Copyright by your name and surname - All rights reserved [to clearly declare copyright information in every photo]

I saved these instructions to a file named ARGFILE.txt and typed the command "exiftool -@ DIR/ARGFILE.txt DIR-OF-PHOTOS" to start the process in the terminal window (DIR and DIR-OF-PHOTOS are the folders where are stored argfile.txt and the photos to be processed; you can find dir information with the mouse's right click on the file/folder under windows systems, and with Command-I in Mac systems).

Last but not least, I wanted to have the date of the photo when it was taken in the creation date of the file too, and not only inside exif. Infact Mac OS X Snow Leopard changes it at the date of the downloaded or copied file from another support, and there is no possibility to see a finder's column with the real shot date. I tried every combination with exiftool with the only result that it changes both creation and modification dates, while I want the modification date untouched, to preserve the downloaded date from the camera, and also I have tried any free application. But the only application that worked was a commercial one, A better finder attributes, and I am still using it also for the new photos I shot and download to the Mac, because the date problem is always present.

I hope that my situation and decisions will help other Canon and Mac user with their photos' management. Of course, if you have better suggestions, comment this post, and we can discuss about them.


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