Saturday, May 31, 2008

Free Tools For Photos

Yes, I'm still working on my tlog (remember, the 't' is silent :o) of my wonderful trip. I realized that I actually have twice as many photos as I thought. Originally I estimated about 1500. I arrived at this number because my camera shoots in RAW and basic JPEG, which means for each photo I take, I actually get two image files. The RAW (or .NEF) file is very large, and I can manipulate some settings (color, white balance, etc) without modifying the actual photo that I took. It's like a digital 'negative', if you will. The downside is that it's very large, and it cannot be opened by all image programs. I also take JPEG pictures, which gives me a rough view of my shot, if it came out, etc. So anyway, I saw a picture count as 3110, I figured that included JPEG and NEF files. It turns out that only was counting the JPEG files. So I actually do have 3110 pictures to go through, 869 were taken on 5/16, the day we passed through the Panama Canal! Some that I have briefly glanced at have come out well! The reason for this post is I found three free programs that help to organize and do "cool stuff" with your photos. I want to document it so I don't forget!

I realized that I changed the date and time of my camera's clock when I got to Orlando, matched it to Eastern Daylight Time, but never changed it after that. Oops! Digital cameras embed the date and time information into the photos metadata. It's not a scary techy word, metadata simply means 'data about data' or 'stuff describing stuff' or how about 'data properties', that works too. For digital images, this metadata is called EXIF which probably stands for something, and I'm too lazy to look it up. EXIF holds information such as date and time the image was taken, the picture size, copyright information, photographer, whether the flash fired, what the shutter speed and aperture was, and more. Some cameras even have the ability to embed GPS information into the picture, so that you can plot each of your pictures on a map (a process called GeoTagging, more on this later).

I'm getting off course here, so anyway, my camera's date and time were set accurately in Orlando (EDT), however the trip carried us through 4 different timezones. I forgot to change the time at the appropriate spots. What could I do?

I found an application called ExifTool. For you Perl geeks out there, this is really just a compiled interface to the EXIF libraries in Perl. I was able to run one command, and it changed the time for my pictures. Well not all of them. Some needed to go back an hour, some two, and some three. I haven't yet done the rest. Also, ExifTool has an option to rename files based on their date/time stamp. When I finish editing the EXIF information, I'll rename based the correct information.

The second cool utility I found relates to GeoTagging, or the ability to put GPS information in your pictures. I don't have a fancy attachment on my camera that will do that when I take the picture, however I do have a GPS which knows my location and the date/time. GeoSetter is a free application that takes your group of pictures, your GPS data, and tries to figure out based on the date/time where you were, or the closest GPS point to when the picture was taken. The only hitch is that the date/time of your camera must be very very very close to the GPS, or else the pictures will display in the wrong locations.

The third cool utility is actually not a photo utility, so I guess I lied. I took my AT&T Tilt that I won in Orlando, and installed a program called TrackMe. It uses your GPS device and saves points of where you have been on a given interval (30 seconds, 5 minutes, whatever you want). I had this running my whole trip. Unfortunately, when I tried to export my positions, the program ran out of memory! Luckily I was able to open it up with Visual Studio 2008 (long story). Anyway... If you have GPS points and want to plot them on a map, another awesome fee utility is called GPSVisualizer. This utility will generate your points on Google Maps or Google Earth. How cool is that?!

Ok enough for now, I promise I'm working on that trip report!

1 comment:

Bek said...

We want some pictures!! John and I keep visiting your site in hopes of some pics! No rush, though :)