Like most people who own a Digital Camera, I take a lot of pictures, and unfortunately sometimes I feel like I spend more time FINDING my photos than looking and enjoying them…
Before I found the Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, I thought the answer was the Google Picasa APP. However, after importing my 10+ thousand photos, the photo tagging was just taking WAY TO LONG.
Using the Pro Photo Tools 2, Tagging photos is a snap, and that’s just one of over a few dozen features which allow you to add or modify the Metadata inside each of your Photos or group of Photos.
What is Photo Metadata and why do I care?
Over the years, Digital Camera and Photo Editing software companies began to realize they could insert “MetaData” (EXIF or IPTC) into Photos for various reasons. At first, this metadata included only basic things like Camera type, Date, Photo Number, etc. As Cameras and Photo Editing tools became more and more advanced, so did the EXIF and IPTC Metadata.
This auto metadata usually includes things about the particular shot like Date, Time, Shutter Speed, Camera Type, ISO, Flash Mode, Width, Height, Resolution, and Location (if the camera has a built-in GPS) just to name a few. Although this is all very useful, cameras are not intelligent enough to add descriptive Keywords or Tags to the photos describing WHAT the photo is or who is in the picture. This void is where Microsoft Pro Photo Tools comes in.
Using the Free Microsoft Tool, you can add new Metadata to the photos to include everything from where taken, who took it, and who/what was in the shot. The latest Photo Tools like Picasa, Flickr, Smugmug, etc. all use photo Metadata. But by adding this additional Metadata, not only will the pictures be more enjoyable to look at, but you can also easily find those PHOTOS in a haystack when like me, you have 10,000 photos and 1, in particular, that you want to find. The more data, the better baby! For those of us who don’t have a GPS built into our camera, this specific metadata can also be added to your photos using Microsoft’s free tool. This tool is very groovy since most of the tools mentioned will pull the GPS metadata and display them on a map later! Yeah, Very groovy!
Using Pro Photo Tools, I typically enter in the following Metadata for each Photo:
- Title, Keywords (great place for people’s names), Description – This metadata helps me FIND my pictures AND helps those who look at my photos on my Private Flickr Page and Personal Websites understand the shot context, trip, etc., and recognize the people in the shot
- Location – My camera doesn’t have a GPS, so this is where I add the GPS/GEO information
- Date and Time – My camera inserts this data, so I don’t mess with this (usually)
- Photographer – I always add in the detailed Photographer information for copyright reasons
Microsoft Pro Photo Tools Tips
One thing I like about the tool is the ability for me to batch edit my photos.
1: Like any other Windows/Microsoft Application, select all the Photos using CTRL-A or Click and Drag your Mouse over the Images to choose all of them. You can also Hold down CTRL and then Click them one at a time to select just those you want to edit. I do this when adding Keyword Data and grouping photos with different people in them.
IMPORTANT: #1 is an important tip because almost DAILY… I add a bunch of metadata to my photos only to realize I don’t have the entire batch selected. DANG, now I have to Select them All and RE-ADD the metadata… grrrr
2: Because I use the Google Picasa Client App (not to be confused with Google Picasa Web Albums) to store, edit and view all my Photos, it’s easy just to drag and drop photos from Picasa into the Pro Photo Tools. Then you can add in all the Metadata simply and quickly. When completed, save your changes in Pro Photo Tools, then close Picasa and re-open it and Tadaa, Picasa will then import all the new Metadata, and you can search away or use Google Earth if you added in the GPS metadata.
3: Some people might argue and say “Why add Metadata to photos when I can just Tag my photos on Flickr?” My answer to this is MOBILITY. If you add the Metadata to your ORIGINAL photos, no matter where you might upload them, the files will have that data embedded. This step is important since you never know if services like Flickr will still be around in xx years. Plus, you’re finished once you add the Metadata to your photos. You won’t need to tag your photos using Flickr or another service. So personally, I think it’s both smart for long-term reasons as well as a time saver to add the data to the files from the beginning.
4: Once you fill out the Photographer MetaData and other data you want to add, cruise over to the Description area and Push the Copyright Button to Auto Populate the Copyright data based on the information you entered and the date of the photo.
5: My last tip is SAVING your changes. Simply Press CTRL+ALT+S or, Click File, Save all images with new Data. It’s a simple probably unneeded suggestion. However, I would HATE for you to spend 5 minutes adding in all your data then losing it…OUCH.
Pro Photo Tools 2 Features from the MSFT Site:
New in Microsoft Pro Photo Tools 2
- Support for reading and writing metadata to/from XMP side cars so that metadata will interoperate with Adobe products. This is in addition to reading and writing from the file.
- Users can convert from RAW to JPEG, TIFF, and HD Photo using “As Shot” settings. This includes the ability to resize the image.
- Users can view actual RAW image in addition to thumbnails
- Support for 64-bit Windows
- Support for international locales
- Improved UI for geotagging
Geotagging with flexibility
As geotagging gains popularity, photographers want to be able to quickly identify the location for their images. With Pro Photo Tools, you can gather location information from a variety of sources and apply it to the metadata in your images.
Determine location name automatically
With Pro Photo Tools, you can automatically apply the actual name of the location where a photo was taken based on the GPS coordinates. Instead of numbers, you’ll have the “real” names, and that information can then be saved in the metadata for your photos.
Determine GPS coordinates from location name
Just because you haven’t always had a GPS receiver doesn’t mean you can’t assign GPS coordinates to your photos. In fact, using the power of Microsoft Live Local you can determine the GPS coordinates where any photo was taken based on location name information in the image metadata. The GPS coordinates can then be added to the metadata for your photos and the photos plotted on a map.
Identify location on a map
For the maximum in flexibility when assigning a location to an image, you can navigate to the precise location where you took a given photo and tag the photo with that location information based on a specific position on the map.
View images on a map
As cool as it is to have GPS coordinate information connected to your images, to really get a sense of place with your photos, you need to view them on a map. Pro Photo Tools utilizes Windows Live Local to display your images on a map of the world, including the ability to view your images on a normal map or a satellite view of the world.
Edit image metadata
Metadata has become increasingly important to photographers as a way to manage and organize their images. Among the many things it enables is a rich capability to search for images. You can now update a wide range of metadata for your images using Pro Photo Tools, and that metadata gets stored in the actual image file, so wherever your photo goes, your data goes.
By leveraging the Windows Imaging Components (WIC), we’re able to provide support for any RAW file format (in addition to TIFF and JPEG) for which a codec has been developed. And that includes most RAW file formats. Not only can you view your RAW images within Pro Photo Tools, you can also update metadata—including GPS coordinates—directly in the file. The updated metadata is stored within the RAW file, not in a cumbersome “sidecar” file. (For information on obtaining codecs for your RAW images or other file formats, visit Codecs for Windows.
Pro Photo Tools was built with extensibility in mind. Rather than creating a one-off tool, we created a framework we can leverage for future tools. This will allow us to add additional functionality in future versions of Pro Photo Tools more efficiently. That means you’ll get more features sooner.
So give Microsoft Pro Photo Tools a try and let me know what you think about it. Combined with an excellent desktop App like Google Picasa (available on the MAC and PC now), it can truly be a winning combo (plus, both are free. :)