Sunday, 29 June 2008

Managing Photos

As the number of digital photos that we have taken has increased, we have become concerned about how we find photos for use in photo books and other work. For photo editing, we have been using a combination of ACDSee Photo Editor 3.1 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. We used ACDSee's FotoSlate 4 to draft our recent photo book but are planning to move to Adobe's InDesign and Photoshop CS 3.

ACDSee Pro claims to be a complete toolbox for photographers. It allows you to scan your folders and edit the metadata in the photo files. It also builds its own data to enable you to add keywords and search for photos. We have been using it for a while now and never been entirely happy with the way that it works. This is in part because we didn't allow it to import all our photos into its database. Instead, we have worked with our own directory structure which is based on year and then a directory for each day/camera that we have taken photos. This has allowed us to find photos easily based on date but not on theme or category.

Using the EXIF and IPTC metadata, we have been slowing adding descriptions, photographer, location, and Copyright data to each photo but this has been quite tedious with the batch update provided in ACDSee. We have also found the search mechanism not as easy to work with as we would like.

In exploring the options for purchasing the Adobe Creative Suite, we came across Adobes Photoshop Lightroom. We decided to do a comparison of the tw programs to decide which to use in the future. Here is our current judgement.

The EXIF metadata includes information about the camera, lens, camera settings, etc, used to take the photo. Most of the time, you don't want to change this data.

Lightroom

ACDsee Pro

Requires that photos be imported to database but will retain photos in place if required

It is optional to import photos but it will do so as you work with them and modify the metadata

Reports selective metadata but doesn't allow the update of EXIF metadata

Reports all metadata elements and allows update of all metadata

Has a size restriction on the photos that it imports. This is increased with Lightroom 2 beta

Seems to be no size restriction since it works on directory and not just photos imported to database

Metadata updates have to be synchronised with photos otherwise changes are just held in database. It aims to protect photos from modification

Metadata written to the photo file directly.

Seleted metadata can be used as a filter to select a range of photos. Reports number of photos for values including the number that are blank

Slected metadata can be used as filters but photos have to be in database and does not report blank or unknown values

Metadata for multiple photos can be updated at one time by selecting photos and then altering appropriate values in side panel

Metadata for multiple photos can be updated at one time by selecting photos and then running a batch information update

Can store preset values for metadata fields for use when importing and synchronising

Can store preset values for metadata fields

Import from device allows transfer to a range of different directory structures based on date photo taken or other criteria

Import to specified directory

Allows editing, creation of slide show, printing and creation of web gallery

Allows editing, slideshow, PDF creation, and a number of other options

Can use an external photo editor

Can use an external photo editor and transfer to Fotoslate

We are currently leaning toward the use of Lightroom primarily because it is easier to work with the metadata attributes to locate photos and also because of its import from device features.

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