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Flexible Photo Organization Software? 131

Matthew Wecksell asks: "Several years after getting a digital camera, I find myself with far too many pictures to keep track of, with multiple folders titled 'At the Beach' and so on. Picassa will not let me assign multiple labels to a picture and then search against those labels the way iTunes will with my music (eg: Show me all pictures with '"Grandma Foo" and not "Grandma Bar"' to find pics that have just one of my two grandmothers). Also, I'd like to find a solution that lets me export the meta data or keep it in the picture files, not a proprietary database, so that in ten or twenty years, I can use another program on another platform and still have useful tags assigned to my pictures that I'm taking today — I have no interest in re-tagging my pics. Has anyone found a good solution to the picture organization problem? Is there any standard 'ID3' style for putting metadata into an EXIF header?"
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Flexible Photo Organization Software?

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  • Good luck (Score:3, Informative)

    by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:44PM (#16932836) Homepage
    I'll be watching this thread closely, I made the mistake of putting of my my pictures in iPhoto (which is a fine program otherwise) and I find I am unable to get out of it. The pictures are categorized nicely in directories but the tags and such are not transferable to any other program as far as I can tell. I would really like to move to F-Spot but I don't feel like duplicating hours of work on some 3000 pictures.

    • I was about to suggest iPhoto, as finkployd seems to like iTunes. When you think about it, can you export all the iTunes tags? Not really, as you can't export AAC tracks without converting them to MP3 and losing some of the information... I use iPhoto extensively, although of course unlike iTunes there isn't a Windows version. But if you do use MacOS, iPhoto plays nicely with Aperture and Photoshop. The tag organisation is superb, although I haven't investigated exporting them.
      • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
        You can at least keep your music in AAC without using iTunes due to OSS like faad and xine. It's not like iPhoto imports your pictures in JPEG2000 or something...

        Now the metadata, on the other hand, is the problem with iTunes and iPhoto.
      • It allows for multiple tags on pictures, organized how you want. (eg. All pictures that contain me or my dog at the lake). Very easy to use. My favorite part about it is that it doesn't touch your directory structure and doesn't change any file names. The only thing I'm not sure about is how exportable the tags and other information is... Still, I think it's going to be the closest thing you find to what you're looking for.
    • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

      I made the mistake of putting of my my pictures in iPhoto (which is a fine program otherwise) and I find I am unable to get out of it. The pictures are categorized nicely in directories but the tags and such are not transferable to any other program as far as I can tell.

      If I recall correctly, iPhoto is scriptable with AppleScript and Python. It shouldn't be too difficult (relative term, I know) to extract the information this way.

    • by fribhey ( 731586 )
      i guess you aren't aware that you can turn off the preference in iphoto to copy your photos to your iphoto library. when you turn off that option you can store your photos how you want and where you want.
      • I am aware, but what does that have to do with the metadata (tags and such) problem?

    • by Super_Z ( 756391 )
      AlbumData.xml is easily parseable. If you dont want to get down and dirty with the xml itself, you can use for example Mac::iPhoto []. It's only slightly buggy.
  • "me too" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tom17 ( 659054 )
    I love the UI on Picassa, but I am finding that it has some shortcomings.

    For example, I have all my pictures on one network share. On desktop PC "A" I arrange my pictures into albums using labels. on Desktop PC "B", you have to repeat this work. A central (or even just exportable) database of this would be hands.

    Along with multiple labels

    and possibility of heirarchical albums structure.
    • Re:"me too" (Score:5, Informative)

      by Viraptor ( 898832 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:07PM (#16933502) Homepage
      No idea what system are you using, but if it's Linux, then try F-Spot ( It's basically Picasa, but:
      • uses labels (normal text ones) AND tags with tag hierarchy, so you can tag it with "My room" and it will also get parent tags "Home", "My city", "My country" and "Place". Any number of tags allowed, along with complex searches (("Grandma foo" OR "Grandma bar") AND EXCLUDE "My room" is possible)
      • has less "effects", but
      • has more sliders in color / contrast correction + histogram
      • supports camera and folder import

      And yes - it has Picasaweb export!
      Additionally it's a new project and is actively developed. Tags are kept in database, so network sharing will probably work with good configuration. Changes are kept like in Picasa - it always keeps the original file without modifications.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      and possibility of heirarchical albums structure.

      It's already there. Update Picasa through the Help menu entry or download it directly from []

  • KPhotoAlbum (previously called KimDaBa) is pretty good for free software. You can make custom tags, search with either/or/not/and logic, and it's pretty easy to use. One bad thing is that (in the older version I have anyways) it slows down a lot when you have 10,000+ photos in it. It stores its metadata in an XML file that you can backup so you don't lose your library. I've used it for about a year, until I moved over to an iMac+iPhoto. []
  • Photoshop Elements (Score:3, Informative)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:52PM (#16933082)
    I believe that Photoshop Elements 4 stores the tag data in the photo headers. In general, PSE4 on Windows is a really good photo organiser, I prefer it to iPhoto in fact.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gutnor ( 872759 )
      Photoshop Element (at least version 5.0) will store all tags as IPTC Keywords - i.e. available in Picassa and every program able to read EXIF and IPTC entry ( such as caption, ... )

      However it does not do that in realtime with tags as it does with caption. You need to periodically launch the command "write tags and info to photo" that will process all your photo in batch. This can be surprising when you work with more than one program simultanously. Also this is important because when you are renaming some t
  • I am currently using dsys/html/060926/acdsee_1.html [] ( ACDSee Photo Manager ) and have found that it works very well. It's quick to load and has some great features. It does, however, take some getting used to.
  • by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyako&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:54PM (#16933144) Homepage Journal
    Interestingly enough, I just stopped hacking on an application that will hopefully solve a lot of these problems just this minute to start reading slashdot. I actually just started coding on this project a couple of days ago, so it doesn't do a lot right now, but in a couple of days it should have at least the rudimentary features you are looking for (storage of tags, searching) and will hopefully be a bit usable.
    You can check out the code here if you want: []
    The project is written in C++ with Gtkmm, you'll have to compile it yourself since I haven't built any packages or anything.
    Hope that helps.
    • by Myself ( 57572 )
      Sweet, I hope it understands lots of different description formats to import from. I'm using ACDSee Classic, which stores descriptions (which I use like tags) in 4DOS-style descript.ion files in each directory. When they went looking for a metadata mechanism that was format-independent, they found an established convention dating back a decade or more. :)

      Anyway, in my copious free time, I'm going to set up Gallery2 on some hosting space, and wrangle some Perl to automatically tag uploaded photos in G2 based
      • by miyako ( 632510 )
        Right now it doesn't import from anything else, but if you have some ideas for things that you would like to see imported, by all means post a feature request on the site.
        Basically, at the moment you can open up a directory full of images, and go through and add titles, tags, and watermarks - then put it all in a MySQL database. You can search tags in the database to look at your pictures. I also have a PHP script that will allow you to view the database on the web.
        If a lot of people start requesting im
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by thinsoldier ( 937530 )
        here' the thing with descript.ion files
        If I were to move a dozen photos from one dir to another using explorer the descript.ion file in the other directory has none of the info about the files I just put there.
        All that info is in the .ion file of the previous directory. If I copy that .ion file over to the new destination folder it overwrites the old one and now only those 12 recently moved photos will have metadata and the hundreds of other photos in that dir lose everything.

        descript.ion files suck unless
        • by Myself ( 57572 )
          And then that requires that every program capable of opening an image file be rewritten to understand .imx!

          I find that ACDSee's move/copy functions are better than Explorer's anyway; they have superior "file by this name already exists" handling. If there were a dupe-finder (like dff.sourceforge) that could reconcile different descript.ion tags associated with identical files, I'd be in heaven.
    • What are you doing that will be different/better than Digikam, KPhotoAlbum, F-Spot, etc.? There are some very mature F/LOSS applications in this space, so I'm curious as to why you're starting from scratch. Not that there's anything wrong with writing a new app just for the fun of it.

      Aside: Interestingly, this is an area where I think the F/LOSS offerings are substantially *better* than the commercial offerings on Windows and Mac. I'm not sure why that is, but it is. I suspect there probably are comme

      • by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyako&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:39PM (#16935876) Homepage Journal
        Right now, I'm not really doing anything that much different or better than Digikam or F-Spot (haven't used KPhotoAlbum, so I can't speak to that) partially because those are really good programs, and partially because my app is still in the "just started it a few days ago" phase.
        The motivation at first started out being that I just wanted to learn Gtk and play with ImageMagick a bit. Since I've been hacking on it for a few days, I have some ideas that I think will make my application a different alternative. For one, I want to support video and audio as well as images. Pretty much every phone and digital camera now days takes short video clips at least, and I think they should be integrated in with photos nicely in an album. Some of my other ideas are a bit more experimental.
        As I was saying to a couple of people on IRC last night, in the end maybe some people will find the software useful, but it's probably going to become a sort of dumping grounds for me to play around with a lot of ideas I have for various image algorithms, and will eventually become completely incomprehencible to anyone below the rank of Advanced God.
        If anyone is interested, a couple of the ideas I've had are:
        Doing some facial recognition and learning algorithms so that the program will start to associate name tags with people in the photos, and automatically tag new photos with the people it sees in the photo.
        Draw a picture that resembles the photo you are looking for, and search the database for it.
        Using texture synthesis to clean up images.
        Working on creating a UI with OpenGL.
        those are just some of the potential ideas I have floating about in my head, if anyone is interested in lending a hand on coding on it send me an email.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by swillden ( 191260 ) *

          For one, I want to support video and audio as well as images. Pretty much every phone and digital camera now days takes short video clips at least, and I think they should be integrated in with photos nicely in an album.

          KPhotoAlbum does that already, BTW.

  • foobar (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Let me guess, your grandfathers names are 'widget' and 'gizmo' right ?
  • Hmm. (Score:4, Informative)

    by BJH ( 11355 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @12:57PM (#16933238)
    Is there any standard 'ID3' style for putting metadata into an EXIF header?

    Why, yes, and they're described in section 4.6 of the EXIF specification [].
    • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Informative)

      by jmkaza ( 173878 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:15PM (#16936790)
      Of course, actually reading section 4.6 shows that the only tags available are TIFF Attributes indicating such exciting information as the 'Subsampling ratio of Y to C', and the ever useful 'White point chromaticity'.
      As far as convenient ID3 type info that you can do something with; no.
      • by BJH ( 11355 )
        Look down a bit further. Stuff like the ImageDescription, UserComments, DateTime and GPS coordinate tags look to be suitable.
        Not to mention that ImageDescription and UserComments can be of arbitrary length, which means you could pack some formatted data in there if you like.
      • by kilonad ( 157396 ) *
        Um, yes, those actually are important. The first describes how compressed the chroma channels are to the luminance channel (a compression concept central to little used imaging standards like NTSC and JPEG). White point chromaticity is pretty much white balance, and is useful for color management. Other people have already mentioned the applicable fields (UserComment and the like), but just because you don't understand what some fields are useful for doesn't mean they aren't important.
  • Flickr has the nice advantage of getting them off of your drive and making them painfully easy to feed/share/etc. and the tagging isn't "that" bad. However, it only lets you have 3 "sets" in free mode, which makes it difficult unless you use really broad categories. I produce so many pictures that the bandwidth is a real problem for me, and probably will be until I bite the bullet and buy a ton of throughput for a month or two ("available" space is measured on flickr in throughput, so a few big pictures
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cecil ( 37810 )
      Maybe I'm a control freak, but I don't feel comfortable trusting someone else to a) store my photos, b) keep my photos secure, c) store a tag index for all of those photos. I don't even trust them to do it safely *right now*, much less to have done it and still be doing it 10 or 20 years down the road.
      • Maybe you are a control freak.

        I personally trust a company I'm paying to do a service for me... more than I trust myself. I originally started using Flickr because you get unlimited space for only $25 a month... and they will keep the photos forever. My computers are in a constant state of flux... I'm always trying new software or buying new hardware or whatever. I'm more worried about me accidentally deleting years worth of pictures than I am of Flickr erasing them.

        But what's stopping you from doing bot
        • by Cecil ( 37810 )
          My point was that it's not really a *solution* to what the guy was asking for. It's not really organized if it's organized on only their site and if they ever crash or you're working offline, all you've got left is a big mess of image files scattered across a few HDs and DVDs.

          The image files are important sure, but those are easy to back up and store like anything else, it's not the problem here. The problem is the organization, the tags, the settings, the galleries, those are important *too*, and there doe
        • I originally started using Flickr because you get unlimited space for only $25 a month...

          I love Flickr, don't get me wrong, I have a Pro account. a) it's $25 a year, and b) companies that have active incoming subscriptions have been known to go under, too.

    • Ummm... I think you have the wrong idea about how you pay for Flickr.

      It's just $25 for a year... with 2GB a month of upload and unlimited storage space. If you are taking more than 2GB of pictures a month then you have special needs... and probably should consider buying your own server and loading it up with a bunch of RAID.

      I've been paying for Flickr for a little while now... and have been _very_ satisfied. $25 a month to store my photos forever is a steal.


      • Special needs? It only takes ~200 photos on an 8 megapixel camera to fill up a 2GB memory card, even a casual shooter can do that in a weekend.
  • If you like everything else about Picasa just request the features you want to be added. I'm sure it'll come along eventually and you won't have to move all your images again.
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:04PM (#16933412) Homepage

    I use iPhoto and besides albums I can assign keywords to the pictures making it easy to search by keyword. If iPhoto is not enough then Aperature is supposed to provide even more so I assume it would have better organizational stuff too.

    Of course, both require a Mac.

    But I love iPhoto. All my photos have names, ratings, and a set a keywords with everything from file type to portrait/landscape, to camera model and lens (I, of course, had to set all these).

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:07PM (#16933490)
    If you were using a Mac, I'd suggest Aperture...

    But since you mentioned Picassa, I'll assume you are using Windows. You may want to look at Lightroom, you can organize photos and attach keywords which you can then search on. Lightroom will generate XMP files alongside images, which hold all your metadata (Aperture can do the same). Lightroom also stores these keywords inside a local database, making search very fast.
    • If you aren't stickler for using GPLd software I'd second recommending Lightroom. It's a free beta right now and has a lot of useful features like excellent camera raw tools, and excellent cropping to standard print sizes. It also has comprehensive tone and color controls as well as the tagging features you are looking for. Of course being propitiatory software you'll have to buy it for probably 200+ dollars when it comes out of beta, or head to your local torrent. Oops did I say that? Silly me, never do
  • by dschuetz ( 10924 ) <> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:08PM (#16933532)
    I've been looking for the same thing, and, at least in the Mac world, it ain't out there. The closest I've found is Shoebox [], which has a great hierarchical tagging system, but it's still single-user. And it's been a little buggy for me.

    Big bonus for Shoebox, though, is the hierarchical tags -- I can't believe how far we've gone with all sorts of folksonomy tagging systems, but virtually nobody's using a hierarchy of tags. Keeping these flat, especially if you want to start organizing and grouping by family, is just unusable after a 25-50 tags or so. With Shoebox's system, you can set things up like "John's Family" with John, his wife, and all kids as sub tags. Then, if, say, "Tim" (John's oldest son) marries "Jane", create "Tim's Family" as a sub to John's family, or even as a sub to Tim, and you can use aliases to have Tim show up in both places. It's hard to explain without pictures, but trust me, it's really very flexible.

    Anyway, the downsides:
    * Again, a little buggy / flaky
    * Proprietary: Can't export the data, though you can export the tag hierarchy (just not the associations between tags and the photos, at least not that I've found)
    * Single-user: It's licensed for a single userid on a single CPU, so my wife can't even access it on the same box, let alone me or her on any other box in the house.

    If we could get the organizational abilities of Shoebox (or a similar hierarchical tag system) in a client-server model, running on a linux server with clients on windows, mac, or whatever, then I think I'd have a personal winner. Bonus points if it speaks DPAP so iPhoto can read the libraries (to make printing, editing, etc., easier). Oh, and it'd have to have an easy way to store/track multiple versions of a photo, for when you crop, clean out redeye, etc.

    I'm "this close" to starting to hack something together myself, but simply have no time with all the other unfinished projects in my life (not to mention my son). At least I should write up a more careful specifications document and post it on a blog somewhere, for someone who actually has time to start hacking at. Really, the back-end DB stuff is trivial, you just need a decent front end. And a web interface just wouldn't be all that usable for huge collections, either. (otherwise, I'd recommend giving Zoph [] a look, as it's got a lot of the DB stuff but it's 100% web based).
    • What I would really love, would kill for, is a (yup, here's the kicker) free Controlled Vocabulary list I could utilise, either flat or ideally hierarchical. The ones I've found seem to be exceptionally expensive ($700+$70 a year?!?).

      Any pointers greatly appreciated.

      • by dschuetz ( 10924 )
        What I would really love, would kill for, is a (yup, here's the kicker) free Controlled Vocabulary list I could utilise, either flat or ideally hierarchical.

        Do you mean like multiple pre-populated tag hierarchies that you can use in your favorite application? I know that Shoebox has some you can download [] (replace the "shoebox://" with "http://" and you can get the xml files), both created by kavasoft and some created by users. They're a little oddly structured at first, but can be figured out pretty easil
  • IMatch (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Unfortunately is windows only, but is full of features.
    It has the possibility of multiple categories assignment and the categories can be organized in hierarchical mode. You can even assign keywords. Categories and keywords (with all the file metadata) can be used for searching images, for example you can do the search you cite but you can put even restrinction on file size, resolution and others attribute.
    It has two ways of decoupling the db data from the program : the first is using IPTC (it can export ca
    • by jayrtfm ( 148260 )
      Ditto what he said.
      It also has a "find by image content" and tons more features.
      The programmer is very active on the user forums.
    • so it exports new copies of the photos was all the metadata embedded in the image file?
  • DigiKam (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <`sd_resp2' `at' `'> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:13PM (#16933662)
    I used to use a simple script to I wrote to create an index.html page from a directory of photos. This worked surprisingly well; but then I discovered digikam [], and now I wouldn't look back.
    • I love digikam, but I also want to be able to use it (atleast browse/search by tags) from windows. For now I am using Picasa, since it runs on both Linux and Windows.
    • by richlv ( 778496 )
      digikam indeed might be a wise choice, especially if moves towards gallery2 integration succeed.
      as for a windows version, that probably will be available with kde4 - not for another year, though :)
      anyway, it should be possible to start using it now (dualboot, separate machine, virtualization - depending on the situation), like importing data, finding best usage patterns, tagging and so on - and later possibly use native win version.
  • Windows Vista Photo Gallery? home/gallery.mspx#more []

  • I have a large collection of photos I've taken over about 6 years.

    My method is probably not for everyone, but it's just a simple way of storing them.

    I have a directory structure as follows:

    photos/2006/0428-steveballmertakingitupthebummy/*. jpg
    so bascially: photos///*.files

    It's not software, but I prefer it because it's not dependant on a software package, and with grep or start -> find it's rather easy to locate my photos.

    Just a thought, it probably sucks but it wo
    • This also keeps things simple, and won't require application upgrades etc. Additionally, once you have stored the photos in a directory structure, you will never forget where they are or have to call your favorite tech guy to help you find them on your hard drive. This is a common thing I am asked to do... find files for neophytes. I teach them how to use the directory structure for all their data, not just photos... it is a sound way to do things.
    • by Robwiz ( 864947 )
      Count me in for the plain old file-system method!
      (Although the tags would certianly be useful at times...)

      My reasoning was this: How can I identify my photos in a way that is obvious to me,
      and obvious even if I copy a few photos on to a CD to send someone else, or email someone else?

      Use a folder/hierarchy system for the basics.
      Remember that you have date and timestamps to help you sort.
      Rename the files using your keywords. Consider using a 3 digit number at the start of the
      file name (e.g. 001) if you have o
      • I think before one starts doing any sort of tagging, one should first have a good directory structure and naming convention.

        This is the same with my music collection... /music/bandname/year-albumname/01-songname.ext

        Once I have that I can easily do manually tagging, and if the tagging system fails, at least I have a sorting method that works.

        On a funny note, this one time, at lan camp, this one dude, had a porn share, with a brilliantly (and rather disturbing) sorted porn archive... all neatly categorized by
  • by pauljlucas ( 529435 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:22PM (#16933896) Homepage Journal
    Is there any standard 'ID3' style for putting metadata into an EXIF header?
    IPTC allows lots of metadata, e.g., caption, category, city, headline, keywords, etc. Google for it. Note that IPTC has nothing to do with EXIF. For JPEG files, IPTC metadata is stored in the segment having the APPD marker.
    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      A quick way of entering or editing IPTC data and becoming aware of the options is to use IrfanView (and it runs under wine).
      • ThumbsPlus also provides an exceptional in-application IPTC editor. I just wish it had more DAM functionality. This topic reminds me that I really need to start doing this laborious process with all my shots. My setup is ThumbsPlus for elementary slideshow functionality, IViewMediaPro for DAM, with all my images stored on a 1.2TB RAID off of a Samba share.
  • IPTC metadata (Score:4, Interesting)

    by uglyhead69 ( 186990 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:25PM (#16933972) Homepage
    Your Grandmother's names are Foo and Bar?!

    That is so incredibly cool!

    It sounds like what you really need is a basic IPTC editor. That way all the metadata you associate with the file stays with the file wherever it goes. If you're using a mac and have $300 you aren't terribly good friends with, you could buy Aperture. It has a really nice system for assigning IPTC fields in batches, and you can also set up hierarchies of IPTC keywords. (Think tags, but IPTC keywords have been in use a long time with the photo industry, and they call them IPTC keywords) Oh and Aperture does loads of other stuff. Its overkill if you don't shoot in RAW mode and do some post-processing. If you're talking about snapshots here, I would just find a simple tool for whatever you platform of choice is to let you edit IPTC headers. Get them all labeled first, then worry about management software in another year or so once you have finished all the labeling.

    Oh and try not to take any pictures in the meantime. You'll only make more work for yourself. Say hi to the Granmas for me!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Demosthenex ( 513513 )
      I use Mapivi for photo management, IPTC metadata tagging, searches, etc.

      It is quite powerful, and the author is very responsive. []

      The argument for IPTC is simple: The data is stored in the image.

      I'm working on some perl scripts to search IPTC data in images, and create directories of symlinks to the results. That way I could use a tag like Xmas, and then run a query based on the year in the datestamp and the tag Xmas, and end up with subdirs for each year and all the
      • 10 seconds reading the description on the page and I'm convinced this is what I've been wanting for a long time. Especially now that I'm desperately trying to switch to dual booting linux and windows I hate having my image data stuck in acdsee.
    • by smartin ( 942 )
      I whole heartedly agree, IPTC is the way to go, you can add keywords, descriptions, copyrights etc. One important point though is to make sure that the software you use actually adds the information to the original file not a copy. I believe that Aperature and many others do not modify the original file. I've been using Adobe Bridge which while being a pretty ugly program, does a decent job of setting IPTC tags. It also lets you create and save templates of metadata information so that you can easily apply
  • I have been using Adobe Photoshop Album for the past year or so and have found it to be great. It's tag based, and will even let you create dynamic collections based on tags. It's like a standing search.

    Currently have over 15,000 photos in there and performance doesn't seem to be an issue.

    The only gripe I have is that it doesn't (yet) support RAW photos. Hopefully they'll change that in the next release. .anacron
    • by Specter ( 11099 )
      Agreed. My family's been using this for Photoshop Album for years and we love it. I believe there's a free trial download. Tagging is well done; I wish other programs tagged as well as this one.
  • Actually, EXIF information is pretty much just camera settings, dates, geotagging, and the like. IPTC is the standard used by newspapers, news agencies, and more. This information can be embedded onto many images, jpeg, tiff, etc. This allows captions, locations, credits, bylines, and more. You can use any of the following software ist1.php [] that is officially sanctioned by IPTC standard. My favorite is Picasa for adding captions, because you can simply
  • I just use folders for events or periods of time, and the folder contains the date in a standard form; e.g. 2006-summer, 200607-china, 20060504-phoenix-zoo, etc. Usually I can remember approximately when a picture was taken.

    But yeah EXIF tags have a comment field so why don't you just put a sequence of keywords in there (or whole sentences if you like) and then use a full-text search engine? I've had good luck with Swish++ [] to search other kinds of documents (MP3 metadata, Word docs, PDFs, plain text, HTML
  • I use a console utility called EXIFdater [], licensed under the GPL. The author thoughtfully provides both C source code (compilable with gcc) and a Win32 executable binary.

    Exifdater reads date EXIF data from a jpg file, and renames the file according to the pattern that you specify in the command parameters. It can incorporate the original filename in the new filename. You can then organize your photos according to date, simply using your filesystem. This way you are not locked into any database format
    • Exifer and jhead used together can be great. I received copies of digital photos from a friend's wedding, taken by a professional using two DSLRs. They were REALLY out of order because of file name mis-match, so I named them as yyyymmdd-hhmmss-[c1/c2].jpg using exifer, based on the date/time picture was taken. That put them almost in order, but the cameras were obviously off by at least 10 minutes. So, I picked the one that seemed to have had it's time set more accurately (c1) and used that as a baselin
  • by xleeko ( 551231 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @01:55PM (#16934716)
    I dealt with this a couple of years ago by adopting an external form for descriptions and a picture naming convention. See the screed/tirade below :-)

    I wrote a couple of scripts for bulk-importing lots of files and started a windows GUI editor to encourage family to adopt it, but got distracted. I have just been doing everything with emacs in the meantime.

    == Photo Description Tools

    Digital photos are wonderful, but for all of their megapixels they lack the simple feature of prints -- you can't write on the back of them.

    On the surface, it seems simple enough. When I take a picture of Uncle Harvey, the JPEG file is one million bytes in size. You would think that it wouldn't be difficult to add in the twelve extra bytes for the string "Uncle Harvey".

    The problem is that everyone wants to do it differently. In what has become computing industry standard practice, each vendor wants to lock you into their private database for notes, and when the technology or business environment changes, you lose everything.

    In the past year, I have shot many photos, and since I can't jot notes on the back, have forgotten many details about the subjects. I can't wait another few years for a winner to emerge before recording this information. I need to capture it now!

    I keep my physical photos for 30-40 years, and want to keep my digital photos for just as long. If you believe that your current solution is going to survive that long, good for you. I don't, and this is my open way of saving the information in a way that will survive for many years and hopefully outlast the stupid vendor contests.

    That data belongs to you! Don't let someone else lock it up!

    These protocols were written to scratch this particular itch. The following are
    my design goals:

    - Let me capture BASIC information about the photos

    - Store the master copy of the information in a separate file,
    so that we never lose it if some vendor decides to strip
    things from the picture file.

    - Store the master copy in an open format so that I can write
    tools against it or even just edit it with a text editor
    and never be held hostage to a particular tool.

    - Copy the info into the file multiple times in all the competing
    protocols, so that it will be visible in whatever system
    you happen to be using.

    In order to make this happen, I have defined two specs that will
    govern the tools I write. If it other people and projects want to
    adopt them too, so much the better.

    The first is the pixtag file format for picture descriptions. This is
    simple enough to write by hand with notepad.exe or emacs (I am doing a
    lot of this while building my tools), but structured enough for tools
    to easily read and manage.

    The second is a naming convention for files. You can use pixtag
    regardless of what you name your image files, but if you plan on
    keeping your pictures for decades, you better use something better
    than the IMG_1234 that comes out of your camera. Plus, you better
    plan on mixing those files with ones from other people, scans of
    traditional prints, and so on.


    There is some flexibility in how the master file is handled. In most
    cases, I expect that there will be one file with all of the pictures a
    person has, or one file per directory (what I do) However, some people
    may want to partitioning files by year, or overachievers may even load
    everything into a mysql database.

    I suggest the pixtag file extension for the master files. So for a
    single file it might look like:


    For multiple years or directories it might look like

  • KPhotoAlbum (Score:4, Informative)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:09PM (#16935090) Homepage Journal

    I don't know what platform you're on, but if you're on a Unix system, I *highly* recommend KPhotoAlbum (previously called KimDaBa).

    Some of its features:

    • All metadata is stored in an XML file, though optional SQL database support is nearly complete. Even after the SQL backend is done, you'll have a choice of using either SQL or XML. Either one gives you great data portability. The SQL backend ultimately promises multi-user access, and I'm working on a database synchronization tool, so that I can have an SQLite DB on my laptop and a MySQL DB on my home file server and automatically keep them in sync, allowing changes to be made in either place (my wife will probably always use the MySQL DB).
    • Tagging is very flexible. Define any number of categories, any number of tags within categories, arbitrary hierarchical and cross-hierarchical organization of tags within categories, etc. Basically, there's no tagging structure you can't build with it.
    • Tagging is very easy to do. The UI requires a little time to learn (though there are some videos to speed you through it), but that's because it's design is focused on making it possible to very efficiently categorize large numbers of photos, so there are a lot of hotkeys and tricks to learn. You can categorize photos just by pointing and clicking, but if you take a lot of pictures it's well worth it.
    • "Token"-based tagging is a big help, too. While viewing images you can quickly associate single-letter "tokens" with each one, then mass apply real tags to the images. I use this for tagging images with people.
    • It has a cool "date bar" that shows you a histogram of images over time, and allows you to quickly narrow your image searching and viewing by clicking and dragging over the date ranges.
    • You can search for images either with sophisticated query strings, or by "drilling down" through the categories. For example, if I want to see a picture of my daughter on our 2005 trip to Florida, I just click "Location", click "Florida" (perhaps typing "f" in the search field to narrow the list so I don't have to scroll to find it), click "Persons", click my daughter's name (again perhaps first narrowing the list), then drag across the 2005-ish region of the date bar. At each stage KPA shows me the number of photos that match my restrictions so far. When it's small enough, I click "View Images" and I see thumbnails of the selected set. Very fast and intuitive. There's also a query language if you prefer.
    • KPA supports the KDE Image Plugins, so you get all of those features, and new ones are added from time to time. There are export plugins that integrate with various web galleries, image manipulation plugins, a slide show creator and lots more.
    • Large databases work well. There are KPA users with well over 100,000 images, though you may need a little more RAM if you have that many photos. The SQL backend should make databases of arbitrary size perform well.
    • KPA also supports tagging, viewing and management of video clips.

    If you're going to try KPA, I highly recommend getting an SVN version, or waiting a few weeks for the next release. It's a very significant upgrade over the last release and it's been in feature freeze for a while so it's very solid.

    One of the things the question asked about was embedding the tags in the images, and if there was a standard way to do that. There is, it's called IPTC, and KPA supports loading tags from IPTC data. It doesn't support writing tags to IPTC, for two reasons:

    • First, KPA's tag metadata is much richer than what could be accomodated in IPTC, so anything put in IPTC fields would necessarily be a subset.
    • Second, a core part of KPA's philosophy is that the indexed images should not be modified in any way, to avoid any chance of data corruption (note that there are KIPI plugins that violate that philosophy).

    Note also that there are some tools out there that only store the metadata in IPTC

    • Submitter asked for a tagging solution like ID3 - got many results for IPTC. Which I didn't know about, and which sounds great for what it is. In particular, if you're going to email files around and then need to be able to find the source FROM the image file, an in-file tag like this is what you want - and I'm sure why newspapers use it.

      But for the INTENT you talked about - managing and searching for your photos - it's all wrong unless your system 100% caches it - which for YOUR purposes is a lot like no
      • XML is probably a good enough solution for your purposes, which is why I posted this below one talking about how KPhotoAlbum is XML based. For a multiple simultaneous write situation, flat file XML is simply not enough and you'll need a DB (and with some indicies you'll get MUCH better search speed) - but you can always export backups to XML.

        As I mentioned in the post you responded to, soon that will be XML-based or SQL-based. The SQL stuff works now, but it's still quite alpha.

        Now you've gone and m

        • >>>soon that will be XML-based or SQL-based

          Sure, but someone had mentioned they didn't want a SQL solution because they were concerned about being able to use it much longer.

          >>>I think we (using the word in its most general sense) are.

          I meant it in a less general sense.

  • photolibrary (Score:5, Informative)

    by ed_g2s ( 598342 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @02:20PM (#16935400)
    I ran into this problem a few years ago, and so started work on my own project which I now use to keep my collection of 8500+ photos organised. Categories (tags/labels/...) are arranged in a tree, and are assigned to photos.
    So have a look at [] (or [])
    • by dschuetz ( 10924 )
      Somebody mod the parent up -- this is a pretty good start. I'll have to download it and futz around a bit on my own, but it's certainly an improvement over most of the photo library apps I've seen....
  • link (Score:2, Informative)

    by maxume ( 22995 )
    The rdf stuff feels like overkill, but overall, lots of places and things to look at: html#software []
  • It's realtively inexpensive at $60, and the latest version was perhaps a little slow to market.... BUT! []

    IMatch is exactly what you're looking for. It can import/export IPTC data, EXIF data, and there's a scripting language that you could use to import/export your own database. Lots of tagging options (I have my family tree, literally as a tree of tags, locations, events, ...) and you can then tag all your photos with as many tags as you want.

    I'm making this brief since I'm busy, but you
  • You can attach onewordonly IPTC keywords to photos in Picasa, just use CTRL-K.
    The IPTC keywords are standard metadata attached to the photo, other software can read them - Flickr will read IPTC keywords in uploaded photos and turn them into tags.
  • iViewMedia Pro is the ticket. Extremely scalable, extremely versatile. Used by publishers to organize thousands of photos. Mac/PC. []

    • Seconded. And it will accept videos, PDFs, and various other picture-like objects.

      The interface is not iPhoto-simple, but is very flexible and rewards a bit of investment and experimentation. You can use IPTC tags, plus add your own custom tags. Metadata is exportable as XML. It can (optionally) be embedded within image files (for image formats that permit embedded metainformation).

      One real strength that may be useful is that you can use all the cataloging (including thumbnails) even if you don't have a
  • I've got a 80G image library that I manage for my company. Thumbsplus has proven to be a pretty good solution, although I admit to not using the query function very much.

    As TP asks how you want your database created (proprietory or MSAccess compatible), you can run your own querys outside of TP if you wish. Lots of metadata tagging features too.

    It's not that expensive ($49 for Std 1 user license; $89 for Pro, which has more database functionality), and higher licenses allow for multiple concurrent users.

    htt []
    • There is no difference between the two databases, just a file extension, from what I believe. You can even use MSSQL, DB2, MySQL (with the Pro versions), though I am frustrated with Find By Query ... and some other operations using MySQL as the backend (they don't seem to have completed all the code to deal with relational stuff).

      I love it, but confess that I'm going to stick with it for a low overhead viewer/slideshow, and move my serious management to IviewMediaPro.

  • Personally, I gave up using X photo organization software, because there was always a better one around the corner and making the switch was a pain in the **s. Now I'm uploading all my photos to Gallery2 [] php/sql -web application. It has more features then I need, is developed actively and it is a handy way to share photos to people or use it as a backend for website image storage. You can also limit the access to photos with powerful account based permission system.
  • It's not been updated for a while (four years and counting), but I've yet to find something that surpasses Exifer for Windows in both being powerful and usable. []
  • In a time long ago, before iTunes/Amarok, I used symlinks to categorize my MP3 files. I had a shell script that retrieved the ID3 fields and used the field values to create symlinks. There was a directory for each value of each ID3 field and any files containing those ID3 values had a symlink from that directory to the real file. So 'Rolling Stones - Paint It Black.mp3' would have a symlink from each of /mp3/genres/rock, /mp3/years/1969, and /mp3/artists/rollingstones.

    Something similar could work for your p
  • I just wrote my own AJAX Online Photo Storage.. It stores everything in a mysql database, from the tags to the binary data. Images are stored in 3 versions: thumbnail, webnail (definable size such as 800x600), and the original. With a host like dreamhost that provides me 200 GB I've moved my entire collection online in this system. You can import entire folders of photos with a set of tags/album, or upload multiple files at once.

    I've setup a demo with some of my pics for you guys to check out:
    http://ima []
  • Kphotoalbum does everything you ask for and more:
    • Deals with pictures and movies
    • Allows arbitrary number of tag-categories (default: persons, locations, keywords) So that you can tag person:Eivind person:Anne Location:Norway
    • Allows hierarchical tags. A group of tags can be members of another tag. (for example, you could define family to mean 'anne or eivind or silvia or magnus' or North-America to mean 'Canada or USA'. This is a real life-saver.
    • Dead simple for simple use. Finding all pictures of the person
  • I don't want to use a piece of software to do this, so I just create directories. The first part of the directory's name is the date: 20061121 The second part of the directory's name is the person who took the picture (some of the pictures that I have were taken by someone else): john The third part of the directory's name is a keyword of the event: grandma-birthday. And an example of a full name is: 20061121.john.grandma-birthday; I use dots for seperators, but that is just a matter of preferance. I al
    • (sorry, I posted as HTML, please ignore the parent)

      I don't want to use a piece of software to do this, so I just create directories.

      The first part of the directory's name is the date: 20061121

      The second part of the directory's name is the person who took the picture (some of the pictures that I have were taken by someone else): john

      The third part of the directory's name is a keyword of the event: grandma-birthday.

      And an example of a full name is: 20061121.john.grandma-birthday

      I use dots for seperators, but
  • It all depends on what you really want, and need.

    In my case -- I needed remote network access, but I also wanted to be in full control of my data. I primarily wanted a full-on repository to hold *everything*, with configurable views for different people (and/or the general public). I didn't want to have to manually generate web galleries and manage all of that independently.

    After some casting about, I ended up settling on Photo Organizer. [] It's fully database-driven (PostgreSQL) and thus scales quite well
  • I've been following this subject for years and also wrote my thoughts on the subject []. My conclusion is the same: the meta keywords MUST be kept inside the EXIF fields of the images, alternatively in the path/filename info.
    The hitch ? No program can handle them properly: the programs that can put the keywords in the EXIF are bugged, crash often (taking the entire Windows Explorer with them, requiring a reboot in XP), have shitty UIR, overwrite other EXIF fields, drop color profiles or recompress the JPEG da
    • recompress the JPEG data (absolute no-no)

      Yet another reason to work in RAW. "To JPEG" is the last step in my workflow.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer