Monday, May 29, 2006

05/29/06: What is "metadata?"

What is "metadata?"

Metadata is information that your camera or scanner retains about the environment in which the image was taken or scanned. The most common form of metadata used today is called EXIF or Exchangeable Image File Format.

EXIF information can be very useful in post-processing of digital images. Most image editing programs allow you to access the EXIF metadata to review such information as the camera or scanner model, the date the image was made, the format the image was captured (such as jpeg, RAW, TIFF, etc.). Camera settings such as shooting mode (program, aperature priority, shutter priority, manual etc.), aperature, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc. are also retained in the EXIF data. In a windows environment (Windows XP, 2000, or later), you don't even need to open the file in an image editing program -- you can just right click on the file, select properties, click on the summary tab, and, if it's not defaulting to the advanced option, click advanced.

Why is metadata important and how can it help me take better pictures?

To improve you photography, get into the habit of reviewing your EXIF information for images that worked well as well as images that didn't turn out quite like you expected. If you shoot in program modes -- where you may not remember what your camera settings were for a particular image -- having the EXIF metadata information available can really be useful. You can find out exactly what settings the camera used for a particular image and that may help you extend your creative abilities next time you are in a similar shooting situation.

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