Over the last couple of years I have shared techniques, tips and ideas about digital pictures and computer ‘how-to’s. Much has changed in that short time. My first post was about “Live Search” – that gave way to “Bing”, Windows 7 is now the operating system for PCs, Windows Live Essentials 2011 has replaced earlier versions, Live Spaces is gone, as is the Clubhouse where over 300,000 visitors saw my blogs. Many of my tips still work, but much of the detail has changed. My personal “MO” or “SOPs” (methods of operation or standard operating procedures) have evolved as well. Here is the start of an overview of my approach for taking photos from camera to sharing them on the Internet.
Organizing starts in the camera
Digital cameras assign file names to the photos. There are usually several options that the photographer can set. In my case, I want continuously advancing numbers so there will be no file name conflicts in the future. Many cameras also offer options to set comments. This can be used to identify the subject matter or location. Since the process for setting this is tedious, I just use comments to attach my name to each file. My camera does not have a GPS unit installed, but some can annotate photos with the geographic coordinates. All these option can make organizing of the photos much easier.
Importing from the camera
The import step is, of course, the first task after the pictures have been taken. My approach is to connect the camera to my computer with a USB cable and let the import process start automatically when I turn the camera on. (How do I import photos from my camera to my computer?) I have set the options in Windows Live Photo Gallery as shown in the illustration here. The folder name consists of the date taken plus any name assigned during the import process, and the file names are set to use what the camera assigned.
The reason for this is to support my “organizing” scheme. The folders start with a date, they thus will list in date order. This makes going back to the photos easiest for me. Every three months, I move the latest folders to a “year and quarter” folder so the length of the list will not get out of hand.
The import process allows me to add text, a “name”, for a group of photos behind the date for the folder name. This makes it easy to identify my pictures when looking down the list in Windows Explorer or in Windows Live Photo Gallery.
Another option in the import process is the addition of tags. When groups of photos have a common subject or place, assigning the appropriate tags right there saves a lot of time.
The camera-assigned file names are not completely satisfactory for me. My scheme is to replace the first four characters, which the camera sets to “DSC_”, with my initials, a camera “identifier”, and a “sequence” character that I will advance once the count reaches 9999 for this camera. (How do I replace the DSC prefix on my photo file names?) This makes all my file names unique and I can copy files from any folder to “album” folders without having to worry about any file name duplications. More on that in another installment.
Windows Explorer, in the Details pane, also permits assigning titles, the author’s name, tags and comments. I make use of that by selecting the photos and making the appropriate additions right in the Details pane.
One other item that I include in the metadata of my photos is a copyright notice. There is a place for that, but it is not shown in the Details pane or in the information pane of Live Photo Gallery. I select all the photos in a new folder, right-click on one of them and select Properties.
On the Details tab various annotations are displayed and most can be changed. Here is where I enter the copyright information.
The remaining detailed tagging I do in Windows Live Photo Gallery. That is also where “people tags” can easily be assigned. When a photo is selected that shows people, Photo Gallery will recognize the faces and ask “Who is this?” or ask to verify the identity if it matches the face to existing photos. This is very neat.
There is also a place in the Photo Gallery information pane to set a “geotag”. The procedure is awkward and the results generally unsatisfactory. You enter a city, or an exact address, and Photo Gallery sets geographic coordinates. Obviously, when you just say “New York City”, the coordinates will be for the general location and not the exact place where you took the picture. If there are already GPS coordinates in the photo’s metadata, Photo Gallery provides the place name. That is nice.
There is a marvelous tool, Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, that integrates beautifully with Bing Maps and allows setting exact geographic coordinates. I wrote about it in Metadata: Geotagging and More with Microsoft Pro Photo Tools. Unfortunately, Microsoft no longer supports this program, a real pity.
These are the basic steps for my approach to organizing my photos. The next steps are discussed in other installment of this topic.