Author: Alan Feldman
Many photographers have undoubtedly heard the term Metadata, or perhaps EXIF, and wondered what this is and what it’s for. Well, hopefully, the following will shed some light on this subject.
Literally, Metadata is data about data – For example, a digital image may include metadata that describe how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and a lot of other information. Word Processor files, Spreadsheet files, Email files, etc., also include all kinds of Metadata, so let the originator beware how, and who to, these files are transmitted.
Since photography is our focus here, let’s concentrate on image files…
Metadata is usually comprised of EXIF, IPTC and XMP and sometimes a few other less relevant types of information. It is usually embedded in the image file, so it becomes an integral part of the file. XMP data is actually stored external to the image file it is associated with.
EXIF (Exchange Image File Format) is the information supplied by your camera. It includes, camera type, camera settings, date and time, etc. This information can be perused at a future time allowing one to review their camera settings, or help a novice learn the effects of different settings. In the old days – film, remember that – you had to manually record settings if future reference was needed.
IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) was originally developed for exchanging information between new organizations. Later, with Photoshop, users could insert and edit this information. Creator, location, title, captions, keywords, copyright information and usage terms, are just a few examples of this type of data.
XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) developed by Adobe®. Sometimes known as a Sidecar file, it contains information associated with a RAW image file.
There is considerable software available for adding, editing and removing certain types of Metadata. One should strongly consider removing all Metadata from images uploaded to Social Media websites. Smart crooks can learn a lot from this information.
Also, a number of EXIF readers let you examine the “shutter count” (how many images have been taken with the camera.) This can be very helpful for used camera consumers. Simply obtain a recent image from the seller, or generate one if the camera in question is in hand, and examine the data. Below, please find a screen capture showing said information, highlighted, using an Opanda IExif reader.
Alan Feldman is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.