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October 05, 2003

Calm & Image Thoughts

Purple an Stone: Purple flowers against stone wallAfter that rant about Verisign… I needed a bit of fresh air and calm… Since someone threw the switch here and it is now definitely a very crisp cool fall, I decided to revisit a few images from early August. I have been slowly setting up a gallery to post images, mostly for myself and family. I chose Gallery at least for now, as it seems flexible and I can integrate the templates with whatever new design I give the Movable Type section of the site. Gallery has a lot of other nice features,e.g.
  • Supports multiple, nested albums
  • In XP supports the web publishing wizard
  • reads exif data from the file to provide technical specs
Overall, I am happy for now with gallery, there are things however that I would like that are missing, not precisely from Gallery, but more from my image work flow.

I primarily use Photoshop to work with JPG and TIFF images once converted from Canon’s raw format. Photoshop reads EXIF data and it also supports the IPTC
metadata format?accessible through ?File Info?. One new item for Photoshop 7 is support of an XML based metadata called XMP being championed by Adobe. If you save an image in any of the natively handled formats (Using Save or Save as) the file info is embedded in the actual file and ready to be read in the next time. Unfortunately Adobe’s JPEG saver is rather weak, ditto for PNG. The Save for Web option, which is far more powerful for optimizing images, doesn’t save the EXIF, IPTC or XMP data when you save the optimized file. I actually prefer Macromedia’s Fireworks for image optimization. Their routines result in better file sizes than Adobe’s best efforts, and their PNG actually works properly. Unfortunately neither version I have worked with seems to support EXIF and IPTC data, and unsurprisingly it doesn’t support XMP either. I haven’t had a chance to look at either companies latest offerings–Adobe’s CS series and Macromedia’s MX 2004 suite–and truth be told, I can’t justify the cost to upgrade right now anyways.

There are a few of programs out there that do support resizing and optimizing of files and supposedly do not strip the metadata away. ImageMagick, really a collection of related utilities, is one that began on the Linux platform but is available to Win32 and OSX as well. It looks like I will be experimenting with it, but I must admit image optimization is one area where I really would like a GUI interface to dial in the trade off between quality and size visually–ImageMagick is a CLI program. Actually I would be happy to be able to save a PSD, TIFF or JPG file with embedded metadata using Photoshop’s native savers then optimize the image in any other program. The other program will need to optimize well, and leave me the option to either leave all metadata directly in the file or use a separate tool to export it to XML and then re-merge the metadata with the optimized file. I don’t understand however why none of the non-native image savers that ship with Photoshop, including those from the companion application Image Ready, do not at least allow the option of maintaining metadata when saving to a compatible format.

Actually exporting all of the metadata to an XML format is an ideal option. If that were done then it would be almost trivial to set up an RSS feed of the latest additions to a photo-gallery. Frank Leahy (far more knowledgeable on programming and bringing tools together than I ever will be) recently pondered on similar issues. There are a few programs such as JHEAD and EasyEXIF which will export the EXIF data from an image as XML, but I couldn’t find a similar application for IPTC data, and I found next to no products, commercial or open source, that support XMP right now. I also couldn’t find any program that would allow export–import of both EXIF and IPTC to an XML file. 

Posted by Eric at October 5, 2003 11:05 AM | TrackBack
Comments & Trackbacks

Have you tried PixVue?

EXIF, IPTC & XMP read/write/import/export.

It’s free too!

Posted by: [H]omer on November 20, 2003 01:37 AM | Reply to this

Actually, I have been using PixVue for the past couple of months- it’s a great tool for editing the IPTC data. I believe I even sing it’s praises in another entry here ( Photo Tools for XP ). I don’t however find any export capabilities. Unfortunately while it does allow access to view the EXIF data, it does not allow that to be copy and pasted or edited as it allows with XMP/IPTC metadata. It is an excellent utility even so, especially considering the functionality, polish and price. It is entirely possible I am missing something with PixVue, if so it would indeed be the answer to my immediate needs –

DOH! As I was typing this I was checking the PixVue site more carefully. Sure enough on at the bottom of the page: export functions are enabled if you shift+right-click on the image. Sweet!

Thanks [H]omer!

Posted by: eric on November 20, 2003 02:48 AM | Reply to this
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