Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Camera metadata at capture, part of Learn Photo Management: Metadata.
- As soon as you capture a photographic image with a digital camera, there is lots of information being recorded. Of course, there is information that you captured from the scene itself, the image being projected through the lens, but there's also considerable metadata being added to the image at the time of capture. That information will be very useful later, but it can also be useful at the time of capture. But first, let's consider what sort of information is being included when the camera captures metadata along with the photograph that you capture. To begin with, of course, the equipment that you're using.
The camera knows what kind of camera it is, it even knows the serial number of that camera. It knows what lens is attached to the camera, so if you change lenses, the camera knows which lens is currently attached, and it will make a note of that. All of your exposure settings, so the ISO setting, the aperture that you set your lens to, the shutter speed. Whether or not the flash fired, if you have a flash attached to your camera, for example. That information is all recorded as part of metadata. It's worth being aware, though, that not everything you do will be recorded as part of the metadata.
The camera doesn't know, for example, if you were panning the camera during the exposure, if you attach a filter to the front of the lens. Here, a neutral density filter, for example, the camera doesn't know about that. It knows what the exposure settings were, and so of course, if you change your exposure settings to a longer exposure time, that information will be recorded, but the camera doesn't have any way of knowing that there's actually a filter attached to the front of the lens. It just knows that the lens is attached, and actually in many cases, in some cases, it won't know which lens that is.
With some older lenses, you might not have that information available, for example. But much of the information, most of the information about your equipment, about your camera settings is going to be recorded when you actually take that picture. There's even some additional metadata that you can add to the camera, to the photos that you capture, after your capture, even during the capture. For example, in many cases, you can assign copyright information using the software that came with your camera. You can synchronize that, essentially, to your camera so that your copyright information is automatically added to every picture.
Another option that I like to take advantage of, it's available in some cameras, is the ability to assign star ratings right inside of the camera. So, if you're out reviewing your photos, of course, you're probably looking at your histogram to make sure, for example, that the exposure was good for a particular image. But as you're reviewing the photo, if you have an image that you especially like, you want to make sure that you don't slip past that one in post-processing when you're reviewing your images, you can, in many cases, assign a star rating. So this camera, for example, includes a rate button on the back of the camera, and so I can press that button to assign a star rating, one through five stars.
Each time I press the button, I'm incrementing the number of stars, and I can even loop back around. Press it one more time when I've gotten up to a five star rating, to go back to a zero star rating or no rating at all, and most software will recognize that star rating, because it's being added as part of the standard exif metadata for the camera itself. So, when I import my images into Lightroom, for example, or otherwise browse the metadata for these images, I will see all of that information. And I can use that information to locate specific images later as well.
Metadata may not be glamorous, but it's a priceless tool for managing and organizing photos. Your camera records metadata with every shot: the date, time, camera and lens settings, and much more. You can also add metadata using programs like Adobe Lightroom.
In this course, photographer, author, and educator Tim Grey demystifies metadata, describing what it is and showing how it's an essential part of photo management, from categorizing photos to creating fun searches, such as "show me all the photos I took a year ago today."
- Viewing image metadata
- Creating and using metadata presets in Lightroom
- Importing metadata from the camera
- Adding metadata to batches of images
- Correcting metadata for capture time
- Getting location information with auto GPS
- Mapping locations manually
- Resolving and avoiding metadata conflicts
- Backing up metadata
- Locating your images with a simple metadata search