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Old Nov 24, 2004, 10:00 PM   #1
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Like almost all semi-serious photographers, my first step, after downloading photos, is to make long-term backup copies. New when I say "long-term", that's just what I mean. These aren't backups to revert just in case I mess up in Photoshop when editing them over the next few days. These are backups to keep forever, to cover any unforseen eventuality. The most likely one being, 10 years from now, I look at a photo and think "Wow, could have been really good, too bad I sucked so badly at PhotoShop back then".

But I digress. Making those backups is not quite my first step. Becaues, for the backups to be useful, I have to be able to FIND the original for the edited version in hand. So, the first step needs to be naming them. THEN I make copies in my "Originals" folder.

Most of the time that works well enough. But I would really prefer to be able to make backups immediately, before I name them. One, because naming is slightly inconvenient for those situations you are in a hurry--you know, you want to edit and print a copy of your child's birthday party to present to each of the attendees on their way out, etc. Two, because sometimes, as I am editing or reviewing already-named photos, I decide to change the name. Three, in extreme circumstances, with the right cropping, an original could yield two different edited photos.

So, the bottom line is, I would like to be able to trace the "parentage" of a photo in a more reliable way than by filename. I have a theoretical idea for doing so, and wondered if anyone else here had thought about this problem, or heard of ideas for addressing it?

Before I get into the details, I want to make explicit--I am not looking for any form of versioning, nor am I looking for any form of digital watermarking. I just want to know that edited photo A' derived from original A.

So anyway, my thought is--wouldn't it be great if a GUID (basically, a unique id) were embedded in the image file? Ideally, as part of a new, backward-compatible version of the JPEG standard (and others). Then, for any given photo, I could search for its parent (actually, it could be anything--parent, sibling, grandparent; the point is, they would have the same GUID, and in my scenario, that would be the parent).

It isn't hard to imagine how software utilities could enhance this capability--batch searches, etc.

What does anybody think?

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Old Nov 25, 2004, 5:21 PM   #2
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Sounds like a useful enough idea. I have not had time to fully explore all the capabilities of much of the software I already own. I would not be surprised, however, to find out that capability exits already. Even in ACDsee, which I use an awful lot, there is quite a lot of data attatched to each photo. Same with the camera's supplied software. If this data could attatch itself to every photo you worked on, and stay intact, is that what you'd like to see? Best regards,

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Old Nov 26, 2004, 1:19 AM   #3
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The EXIF data that is is already embedded in the JPEG image by most cameras already includes the date and time, to the second, that the picture was taken. It also includes the exposure data (ISO,f-stop,shutter speed) as well as the focal length setting of the zoom lens, and a whole slew of other information. It would seem to me that this would create a unique fingerprint for most photographs.

Although I do not currently use any, while wandering the net, I have seen search and cataloging programs that allow searches on EXIF data. The only problem is that most image editors whack the EXIF data when you edit and resave the image. You can use utilities like Exifer to save the EXIF data before editing, and then restore it after editing.

If you don't aready have an EXIF viewer, you should probably get one. It can come in quite handy when working with digital images. I am currently using Exifer http://www.exifer.friedemann.info/. There are many others.
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Old Dec 4, 2004, 9:43 AM   #4
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Yes, Segbert, I think you are right--the EXIF data could be used to construct a GUID that would serve my purposes. As long as editing did not whack the EXIF!

That is a great idea, as it does not require changes to any standards in order to be implemented and to work globablly. Excellent!
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Old Dec 4, 2004, 6:49 PM   #5
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Keeping the originals by date and including the date in the file name (e.g., zoo041204.jpg) will go a fair distance to doing what you want.

In addition, keep a simple ASCII "shooter's diary" with each CD. Entries something like, "2004 Dec 04: went to the zoo". That means you can take a recent backup, search the diary for "zoo" and find the date and thus the backup.

There are all kinds of systems, but that seems to serve my purposes.
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Old Dec 12, 2004, 8:30 PM   #6
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Actually, I think I was making it overly complicated. For the purposes I had in mind--my personal, single-user database of photos--a GUID is not required. I just need to search by EXIF date (not sure if it matters which of the 3 EXIF dates). I just wish the software I used (iMatch, PS Elements, PSA) supported searching on EXIF fields.

But at least I know it is there, so I will be able to search by EXIF date in the future, when I need it, to find my "ancestor".
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