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Metadata is data about data.
When it comes to photo metadata, that means it’s data/facts/figures/info about your photos.
In the olden days (or last week, if you’re a film shooter) photographers had to carry around a notebook to collect metadata. “Roll 6 Shot 7 was set at f/16 1/100 sec and shot at Tamarack Park.”
These days, digital cameras are writing down all these fun fact for you. They’re not just capturing pictures, they’re taking in metadata too!
You’ve got all kinds of data about your photos you didn’t even know about. And, it turns out there are all sorts of nifty things you can do when you’ve got data about your data.
What kinds of secrets can metadata tell?
Most cameras automatically record the time and date your photos are taken, what type of camera was used and all of your settings – aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focal length, whether flash was used or not, etc.
Cameras with GPS (like your trusty telephone) even record the exact location the photo was taken.
Why would I want to look at data?
Remembering – Where did I eat those life changing noodles?
When was it that I had such a short haircut?
Where am I in that photo from when I was last seen wearing my favorite jacket?
Metadata to the rescue!
Learning – If you’re new to manual mode, looking at what settings you used for a particularly stellar shot will get you more used to what works in what light.
Also, since metadata travels around with photos, if you see someone else’s photo that you like just look up the metadata. See what camera and settings they used and maybe you’ll pick up a few tricks.
Getting creative – Buy a giant map of Paris and glue photos to it, mapping your exact favorite spots from a recent trip.
Chart the weather in your hometown by looking up a photo from the 15th of each month for the last 3 years and noting just how many layers you seem to be wearing.
How to find it?
iPhone – On iPhones we like using Koredoko to see our data about data. Note: Turn on “Extension” in the settings to see more than just GSP info.
Android – If you’re shootin’ on an Android use Jpeg Exif Viewer to see the particulars about the photos on your phone.
Computer – If you’re interested in the metadata from your DSLR photos, our favorite method is to check it out once you’ve got your photo in your favorite photo editing software.
- In Photoshop it’s under File > File Info
- In Lightroom look for the word “Metadata” under your histogram, click it to reveal the metadata panel.
- The prettiest is iPhoto. Just click the Info button to see all your settings and a detailed map.
Taking It Further
- If your camera doesn’t have GPS built-in, use the GPS4Cam app (for iPhone & Android) while you’re out shooting. When you put your photos onto your computer, it will add GSP information to your photos’ metadata!
- Next time you’re meeting up with a pal, instead of an address have them send you a pic. Use Photo Investigator to open the photo’s location in Maps and get directions.
- You can add metadata after you shoot too. Many photographers like to embed keywords or tags and their copyright info into their photo files. This helps them sort through their photos later and helps anyone who gets ahold of the file find out who took it.