Monday, November 06, 2006

Few quick addenda to my earlier post entitled "Organizing those photos!"

First, Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 is available for purchase now, at least for Windows. As far as I can tell, the latest version for Mac OS X is still 4. My recollection is that version 4 for the Mac appeared a little after 4 for Windows, so I would assume that 5 for Mac will follow soon.

An old academic friend who's a long-time Mac user tells me that iPhoto 6 gives you the option of using your own folder hierarchy, as Picasa has always done. That's good news. Looking at Apple's web site, I see that it is possible to import video into iPhoto, but I can't tell if you can view the video in iPhoto. You can view video in Picasa but not edit it.

There's really no contest between Picasa and iPhoto, not because Picasa is clearly superior (it's not) but because you don't really have a choice. If you're running the Mac OS, you've got iPhoto but not Picasa; if you're running Windows (and soon Linux), you've got Picasa but not iPhoto. The real choice is whether to abandon Picasa/iPhoto for Adobe Photoshop Elements. My advice is, look carefully before you leap. iPhoto and Picasa are both very good programs and they're aimed at hobbyist photographers, which means most of us.

A final note or two about your metadata.

I mentioned in the earlier post that moving your photo collection from one program to another - from Picasa or iPhoto to Adobe Photoshop Elements, say - would involve the loss of captions and keywords that you'd associated with individual pictures using the program you worked with first. From what I can tell at the moment, that is still likely to be the case, but you might not actually lose everything and there seems to be some hope for the future. At least some text info about images (including captions and keywords) is stored by Picasa 2.5 as IPTC data, right inside the image file. This means that you can move an image from Picasa on one computer to another computer and possibly another program (one that can read IPTC data) and captions and keywords will not be lost. You can confirm this by giving a photo a caption and/or keyword in Picasa, closing Picasa, and then viewing the image's IPTC data in a utility such as Exifer. The caption is there. Adobe is using its own modified xml-based standard called XMP. My impression is that there is still no consensus on how to handle the metadata, but it appears that the industry is groping its way towards some sort of shared standard, which would be a big help. To read a little more about IPTC, XMP and programs that support them, click here or here or here.

I want to mention finally that moving photos around is easy in Picasa. As I said, Picasa stores captions and keywords inside the file itself; so that import info goes wherever the file goes. Picasa stores edits to the image itself (like crops and color adjustments) as text data in its Picasa.ini file inside each folder. The text data gives Picasa the info it needs to reproduce the edits; you can view the .ini file in Notepad and see it for yourself. Anyway, what it all means is that, if you're using Picasa, it's best to import photos to the computer hard disk into folders named by date of import, then after import from your camera, do everything else in Picasa. If you copy a folder from one computer to another, Picasa on the other computer will be able to see and reproduce all the edits, so long as the Picasa.ini file is available. I was able to move my entire photo collection from one computer to another on which I had just installed Picasa 2.5 simply by unplugging the external hard drive on which I have the collection stored and plugging it into the second computer. All edits and captions were available, which demonstrates that no crucial information is stored in a hidden database somewhere on the C: drive of the computer.

About Me

I am an event photographer living in Dallas, Texas.