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Gordon

Posts: 12
Registered: 5-Nov-2003
Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 04-Aug-2004 01:53
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These are terms used in JAlbum skins that I struggled a bit to understand. I found that metadata is not a "user friendly" topic! After doing some research (Googling), and after performing some experimentation, metadata is now finally starting to make sense to me.

As I conducted my research, I found that there was very little detailed documentation on metadata as it applies to JAlbum. This is strange, because JAlbum is one of the few slide show applications that is well equipped to take full advantage of metadata to provide meaningful information by way of comments, captions, and the drop-down information windows on album slide pages.

I hope that I can rectify that omission and resolve some of the confusion by sharing some of the useful information and practical techniques I’ve learned while conducting my investigation.

Several of the JAlbum skins already offer the ability to extract the metadata and allow the person creating the album to customize how the metadata is presented on the slide pages. I have chosen to use Armond Avanes’ very popular BluPlusPlus skin in all of my examples, but the concepts are readily transferable to other skins.

The software I’ve chosen to use in my examples of writing IPTC metadata to jpeg images is the widely used IrfanView (http://www.irfanview.com/ ). It is extremely versatile and powerful, and it is freeware; but, it is only available for Windows PCs. There are numerous other programs that allow for manipulation of IPTC information; however I must caution you that some of these other applications may also overwrite/delete some of the maker-specific EXIF tags that may be important to you. I have not found that to be the case with IrfanView, and all of its editing is accomplished with no loss to the original image file.

Since my full discussion on the topic is fairly lengthy, I will attempt to reduce the chance of reader’s fatigue by breaking this discussion into a series of separate sections, all related to the topic at hand. In the postings to follow, I will present:

1. What is Metadata?
2. Displaying Metadata in your Album
3. Determining the Exact Metadata Tag Names
4. Customizing the Slide Captions
5. Customizing the EXIF/IPTC Information Drop-down Window
6. Extracting Comments from Metadata
Gordon

Posts: 12
Registered: 5-Nov-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 04-Aug-2004 01:54   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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1. What is Metadata

The universal definition cited by most references reads: “Metadata is data about data”. If we think in terms of a library full of books (the text in the books is data), then entries in the library card catalog can be considered to be metadata. Our search through the card catalog for books by a given author, or about a given subject represents a search of this metadata.

Paper maps utilize metadata - the information appearing in the legend to identify scale and other information that assists in reading the map.

Metadata also appears inside many html and xhtml files. Our browsers do not display this metadata, but it is widely used by search engines that use keywords, titles, authors, descriptions, language, and other information in the metadata as an aid in performing the search. Hence, a person creating a web site can use metadata to make that site easer for others to find. We can see the metadata by selecting “view page source” in our browser, or by opening the html file using notepad.

Many of us use mp3 files on our computers or in portable players. Here, metadata appears in the form of tags that, if embedded in the mp3 file, provide information about the track, song title, artist, album, year, etc. We use various tag editors to create or modify this mp3 metadata.

Photo files - some may be surprised to find that a jpeg file can contain more than just the color and image information we see in our viewer or album. There is a header area within the jpeg file that includes text information that may have been added to the file by our digital camera, scanner, photo editing software, image viewers, and even by JAlbum. This text information (metadata) can be extracted from the jpeg file by many of the various JAlbum skins to provide useful information to the album viewer. The text embedded in the jpeg files can also be modified and expanded by the individual creating an album so that useful information can be provided in the form of comments, captions, and in drop-down information windows in the album.

Some of the mystery of the metadata embedded in jpeg files can be uncovered by simply opening the jpeg file using a text editor, such as Notepad on the pc, instead of using an image viewer. There you will see up at the beginning of a huge text file full of gibberish (all the bits that make up the image itself), there is some text we can actually read. This information consists of that metadata that was automatically added to the file by our digital camera, scanner, image editor, or JAlbum (where you may have written a comment to the image using the Edit tab of the JAlbum control panel).

You will learn even more if you open the image using a viewer that is able to extract the metafile tags and values. For example, if you are using IrfanView, open the file in that application and take a look at the image properties window (Image > Information). At the bottom of the properties window you will see three buttons (EXIF info), (IPTC info) and (Comment).

Click on the EXIF info button and you will see some of the EXIF (EXchangeable Image File format) tags and their corresponding values. If the image was created by a digital camera that is able to write EXIF data to the jpeg file, you will see very detailed information about the camera settings used to take the photograph. Note that IrfanView only provides a partial list of the EXIF metadata contained in the image file. I’ll address this a bit later in this discussion.

Click on the IPTC info button and you will see an information window organized by a number of tabs (Caption, Keywords, and others). IPTC metadata was developed by the International Press Telecommunications Council for use by press photographers who need to attach information to images when they are submitting or storing them electronically. However, as you will see later in this discussion, some of the fields can be very useful to users of JAlbum.

Your image will probably not contain any data in these IPTC fields unless you had already written it to the file. IrfanView, along with other applications allow you to enter information into these IPTC fields, either on a photo-by-photo basis, or in batch mode.

Click on the Comment button and you are presented with a place where you can view any comments already embedded in the image file, edit the comment, or insert a new comment. If you had previously used JAlbum’s “Write to image” button under the Edit tab of the control panel to write a comment to the image, that comment will appear when you click on IrfanView’s comment button. If there is not yet a comment written to the image, you can enter it here. Note that this comment field is different from the caption field in the IPTC metadata.

Ok, now that you have an idea of what kinds of metadata are stored in an image file, the next section will investigate how this can be used in our JAlbum skin to provide useful information in the form of comments, captions, and the popup EXIF information window.
Gordon

Posts: 12
Registered: 5-Nov-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 04-Aug-2004 01:55   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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2. Displaying Metadata in your BluPlusPlus Album

For this part of my discussion, I will use the very popular BluPlusPlus skin in my example.

Some users are not particularly interested in displaying camera settings in their albums, so they have paid little attention to metadata. However, this capability may also be applied to provide supplemental information such as keywords (for future searching), places (city, state or province, country), people (grandma, Jane, Robert), events, or other categories. Such information can be embedded into the original image file and then extracted by BluPlusPlus for use in a caption or presented in a customized drop-down information window.

Let’s begin with the assumption that you are creating an album of photographs from your recent travel through Europe. It would be nice to be able to have each slide page indicate the city and country somewhere on the page without having to manually add that information to the comment field. This can easily be accomplished by writing to the various IPTC metadata fields using IrfanView. If you are using another image editing program, please refer to my caution note in the introductory portion of this posting. Also, if you are going to use IrfanView, be sure that the EXIF, IPTC, and JPG Transformation plug-ins have been installed with your application.

We can batch-edit our image files using IrfanView by using the Thumbnails feature of the program. To open the Thumbnails window, click on File > Thumbnails. The Thumbnails window is similar to Windows’ Explorer. On the left side is a directory tree view of all your drives, directories, and folders. If you do not see this view, you can display it by clicking on View and then on Directory Tree.

Navigate to the folder containing your original images to be used in creating your album. Select those thumbnails representing the original images you will want to modify by writing information to the IPTC tags. You can select all or any partial combination of images (option-click).

With those selected, go to File > JPEG Lossless Operations > Set IPTC data. The IPTC information window opens. Click the Options tab and make sure that the box “Keep original file date/time” has been checked. Click on the Origin tab and insert the City and Country in the corresponding boxes and click the Write button. The city and country metadata has now been written in batch mode to the original jpeg image for all of the thumbnails you had selected. If all of your photos of Paris were in the same folder, then one entry has taken care of the entire batch.

If you have other photos of London, go through the same steps to select all of the London images in IrfanView’s Thumbnails window and with one click you can write the city and country information onto those images. If you want to include some of the other supplemental information in the IPTC data field (author, copyright, people, events, keywords, comments, etc.) you can do that too. Just be sure you are consistent in choosing the various IPTC tags to contain this metadata .

With this process completed, you are ready to identify what metadata you want to display on your slide pages. It may be a mixture of camera settings, along with places, people, events, etc. You also have a choice on where the various pieces of metadata should appear. Perhaps you want comments to appear in the comment area of the slide page, the place names to appear in the caption area of the page, and have the names of the people in the photo, along with certain camera setting information to appear in the drop-down information window. The choice is entirely up to you.

We have one more requirement before we can start customizing our slide page. We need to know the exact tag name as it appears in the metadata. These tag names are not necessarily what you see in IrfanView. My process is described in the next section.
Gordon

Posts: 12
Registered: 5-Nov-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 04-Aug-2004 01:56   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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3. Determining the Exact Metadata Tag Names

In a separate tip, I offered one method you can use to see a complete listing of all the metadata embedded in your jpeg images. That process involved temporarily inserting a line of code ( <%=meta%> ) into your slide.htt file. You can see that tip by looking at the second posting on the following thread: http://jalbum.net/forum/thread.jspa?threadID=2732&tstart=0

If you are using BluPlusPlus as your skin, you can bypass that step and simply create a temporary album with the EXIF display mode set to ALL. Here is how to do that. (JAlbum control panel > BluPlusPlus tab > Slide tab > EXIF/Photographic Information > all). Note that you have a choice of none, all, verbose, or standard.

Generate your temporary album that includes the images where you added new metadata to the IPTC field. Open the album and click on the “i” information button on the slide page. You will now see a very long listing of all the metadata, including the tag names and their corresponding values. In my example, I’d scan through the list for Paris and France and see that tag name for the city metadata element is “Iptc.City” and for country, it is “Iptc.Country/Primary Location”. While you are doing this, also look at all of your camera metadata tags, and write down the exact metadata tag names you want to actually include in the EXIF dropdown window for your final slide show presentation.
Gordon

Posts: 12
Registered: 5-Nov-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 04-Aug-2004 01:57   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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4. Customizing the Slide Caption

BluPlusPlus also provides the user with the opportunity of having metadata tag values appear beneath the Slide image, as a caption. Note that the caption is separate from the comment line. Here is how I can have Paris - France appear in the caption beneath my Paris slide images.

Take a look at the Slide tab under the BluPlusPlus tab on the JAlbum control panel. Here you will see that Armond Avanes, the author of BluPlusPlus, has set up a position beneath each slide image that he calls the Slide Caption. By default, he has included the file name, the file dimensions, the file size, and the file date to be displayed as the slide caption:

FileName|Dimension|FileSize|Date

To eliminate the file name, dimension, and file size, and to add the city and country names, we simply edit the Slide Caption Content box to read:

Date|Iptc.City|Iptc.Country/Primary Location
Gordon

Posts: 12
Registered: 5-Nov-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 04-Aug-2004 02:03   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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5. Customizing the BluPlusPlus EXIF/IPTC Information Window

I noted earlier that BluPlusPlus offers several types of drop-down EXIF information windows. The most commonly used is the “Standard” view. But, there is no reason to settle on the default display. You can easily customize the window to show only those tags that you feel are appropriate for your album viewer. In fact, as I mentioned above, perhaps you’d like to include some of your customized IPTC metadata to list people, places, events, etc., in the window. Here is how to do that.

The specific metadata that appears in the Standard view Information window is determined in the JAlbum control panel (Advanced tab > User variables > exifDisplayFields). If you scroll across the box, you will see that the default setting calls for:

|<title>General info: |Model|Make|Device Setting Description|<title>Basic shot info: |Focal Length|Subject Distance|Aperture Value|White Balance|Flash|Metering Mode|Shutter Speed Value|F Number|ISO Speed Ratings|<title>Advanced shot info: |Exposure Bias Value|Exposure Time|Exposure Mode|Max Aperture Value|Brightness Value|Contrast|Saturation|Sharpness|<title>Exif-related info: |Exif Version|Exif Image Width|Exif Image Height|Color Space|Compression|Artist|Copyright|Image Description|Maker Note|User Comment

You can modify this list to change the order, add, or remove some of the metadata. All you need are the exact names for the metadata tags you wish to display. For my example, I’ve decided that I want the window to show only my camera model, iso, exposure time, Aperture Value, and White Balance Mode. Picking out the specific tag names used by my Canon G3 camera, I found the appropriate names in the long list of metadata to be:

Model, Canon Makernote.Iso, Exposure Time, Aperature Value, and White Balance Mode

I’ll also include the location IPTC metadata tags in the drop-down list. Therefore, I can simplify the exifDisplayFields user variable listed above, to the new values entered as:

|<title>Camera: |Model|<title>Basic Shot Info: |Canon Makernote.Iso|Exposure Time|Aperture Value|White Balance Mode|<title>Location: |Iptc.City|Iptc.Country/Primary Location|

When I generate my album, I find that I have customized the EXIF information drop-down window to list only the information I want, using my own category titles, in the order I’ve specified, and including the city and country location metadata I added using Irfanview.

Be sure to save a project file of this job before you close JAlbum so that you have all the changes you made to BluPlusPlus available the next time you create an album. Note that there is a second method you can use to enter the new user variables information into your BluPlusPlus skin. If you start JAlbum with the BPP skin selected and then save a PROJECT file (jalbum-settings.jap), you can then open that project file using Notepad and edit the entry for the exifDisplayFields. If you want this to be a permanent change for BluPlusPlus, you can also go into the hints.jap file using Notepad and make your editing changes there.

At this time, I am not aware of any way to have BluPlusPlus report the metadata tag names using anything other than the actual tag names. Hopefully, a future update of BPP will provide a means for using custom names for the metadata tags in the dropdown box so that “Country” can be shown instead of “Iptc.Country/Primary Location”

For more information on how to use and customize BluPlusPlus, be sure to visit the excellent and very thorough documentation prepared by Robert Camner at http://bppdocs.camner.net/

Gordon

Posts: 12
Registered: 5-Nov-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 04-Aug-2004 02:04   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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6. Extracting Comments from Metadata

I described earlier in this report that comments may reside in several areas of the jpeg file header. The comments may be written to the file using the Edit tab in JAlbum, or with software such as Irfanview. I mentioned that Irfanview can write comments to the caption field of the IPTC metadata, or to the Comment header. JAlbum also gives you the opportunity to write comments to a separate text file called comment.properties. With all of these possible locations for comments to be stored, how do you define which source is to be used when building comments in an album? David has solved the problem in a recent JAlbum update. On the JAlbum control panel Advanced > Main, you can now control through check boxes, the locations from which you want the comment to be extracted. The sources are listed in order of precedence. Different skins handle this differently, but in BluPlusPlus if more than one of these comment sources are checked and more than one comment source has data for a given image, ALL of the comments from ALL checked sources will be displayed.

The use of these metadata fields offers a tremendous opportunity for the album developer/creator to provide additional, insightful and informative details with his/her photos.
NACarter

Posts: 6
Registered: 6-Mar-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 04-Aug-2004 10:17   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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Wow Gordon! You must be congratulated on such a complete response. Well done mate!
sar840t2

Posts: 2
Registered: 7-Feb-2004
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 04-Aug-2004 20:35   in response to: NACarter in response to: NACarter
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This looks very interesting and I have saved it off for further reading.

A question - do you know whether PaintShop Pro 8.10 clobbers any of the IPTC fields you mention? I ask because a while ago I reported in this forum (I think) that PaintShop Pro clobbers some of the EXIF fields when you save a JPEG (even if you don't use PaintShop Pro to modify the EXIF fields).

Someone at JASC told me not to use IPTC because it was an old standard no longer used (in other words, don't expect JASC to change PaintShop Pro's behavior just to satisfy Jalbum users).

Thanks ... Mike
Gordon

Posts: 12
Registered: 5-Nov-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 05-Aug-2004 03:29   in response to: sar840t2 in response to: sar840t2
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Hello Mike,

I do not have experience with PaintShop Pro, but I do use PhotoShop Elements 2.0 on my Windows PC. I have looked at the file information editing capabilities of PS Elements and find that they are limited only to Title, Author, Caption, Copyright Status, Copyright Notice, and Owner URL. If you use this path for editing those fields, you should be aware that the edit of the jpeg file is not achieved losslessly. Your file size will change and the image will probably be degraded slightly.

Important: I found that any editing by PS Elements, whether it be only file information, or enhancement of the image, results in having all of the maker-specific EXIF tags being stripped from the file (for me, those would be the Canon Makernotes).

As a work-around to this problem of stripped makernotes, I am now using Exifer to make a backup of the EXIF metadata before doing any editing work in PhotoShop Elements. Exifer is another outstanding and very useful freeware application available at http://www.friedemann-schmidt.com/software/exifer/

After creating that backup (which carries an .exi extension), I can use Exifer to restore the EXIF metadata, including both the maker-specific metadata and the IPTC metadata, to the edited jpeg files.

Therefore, it does not matter if JASC does not support IPTC because you have other outstanding and free tools at your disposal to do the metadata editing and to restore missing metadata to files processed by PS Pro.

Using my posted tip, along with this information, you should now be equipped to do a complete analysis of how PaintShop Pro editing affects the various metadata tags, and report back to us what you find.

Gordon

To NACarter:

Thank you for the enthusiastic complement. That makes me feel good! :)

PhotoGuy

Posts: 16
Registered: 14-Jul-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 06-Aug-2004 10:57   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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Gordon,

Really perfect explanations! Congrats... I guess even the experienced users will learn a lot from this documentation.

Keep up your great job! :-)

Armond
Gordon

Posts: 12
Registered: 5-Nov-2003
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 06-Aug-2004 22:11   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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You Can Also Use Exifer to Edit IPTC Data

As a follow-up to my previous posting, I have found that the application Exifer may also be used to add or modify IPTC data to your original jpeg files. As with IrfanView, you can apply the changes to one file, or in batch mode. One nice feature offered by Exifer is that it allows you to create a template containing the changes you wish to make. This makes the batch addition of IPTC data to image files extremely easy and convenient.

For example, if you want to add the location information Boise, Idaho, USA (probably unlikely for you, but that is something I would do :) ) to a large number of jpeg files, you can do that to one image, create a template containing that location metadata (saving it using an appropriate name), and then later use that template to modify metadata on images scattered among many different directories on your hard drive. Simply select the images in the Exifer thumbnail window, choose EXIF/IPTC > Edit > IPTC data, click the "Load from template..." button, and navigate to the template that was created earlier. The data in the template shows up in the Edit Selected files window. Check the boxes next to each tag you wish to modify (City, State, and Country) and click ok. Exifer even gives you the opportunity to create a backup of the EXIF/IPTC data for all the images prior to writing the changes. This is always a smart move in case you made a mistake somewhere in the process!
obiot

Posts: 3
Registered: 25-May-2004
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 07-Aug-2004 00:41   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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Another nice (free) tool is PhotoStudio: http://www.stuffware.co.uk/photostudio/

You can see the Exif encoding, including the encoded value's datatypes!

Best regards,

Olivier
sar840t2

Posts: 2
Registered: 7-Feb-2004
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 09-Aug-2004 17:56   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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Thanks again Gordon, I'll have to experiment.

Mike
maci

Posts: 1
Registered: 5-Sep-2004
Re: Metadata, EXIF, IPTC, Comments, and Captions
Posted: 05-Sep-2004 01:15   in response to: Gordon in response to: Gordon
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first of all .. I'm not a software expert, I'm just looking for some help to convert ".EXI" files (files created by a pinnacle photo instant album software).

I hope this is the right forum to post it (I guess ".EXIF" files are the same of ".EXI" ); or may be you can advise on the appropriate forums

what I'm looking for is to a software/procedure/tips to convert the .EXI files (photo album created with links to separate photo data bases) created by pinnacle photo instant album software (rel 1.3), into a file I can import into ACDSee software (rel 6)

thanks so much
ciao
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