Entering descriptive metadata and keywords into Photoshop.
Each digital image generated by a digital camera contains file
information known as metadata. Whatever use the image will
ultimately have, whether it's being published on the Web, emailed,
or just stored in a database, metadata helps photographers
and anyone working with images in a variety of ways:
Originally developed by
the newspaper industry to
track digital-file information
and easily access the thousands
of photos the media
stocks, Photoshop began
using the standard created
by the Newspaper Association
of America and International
Council. Stock photo
agencies, such as Corbis
and Getty Images, require
metadata on images to be
able to search and identify them.
Metadata includes a variety of types of information: image
description, author, copyrights/credits, image origin, and keywords.
Some metadata is alterable; some is not. For example,
you cannot alter the information related to what type of camera
took the photo, the exposure details, or whether or not the flash
was fired. You can change information such as the author of the
photo, the date, when and where it was shot, keywords, and
Each image-management program and most image-editing
packages allow you to view image metadata and customize it, at
least to a degree. Further, the better packages also allow you to
attach common metadata to batches of images, create your own
keywords, and sort images accordingly.
Photoshop provides the most robust metadata manipulation
and appending options, and I tend to use it the most frequently
when working with batches of files. Photoshop segments image
metadata into several pages of information, such as "Camera Data
1," one of the less technical metadata information categories.
You can even add a URL for a copyright"?for example, I add
www.fencingphotos.com to many of my fencing images. In
Adobe Photoshop, you create a metadata template that contains
the specifics you've added, and this can then be batchappended
to groups of files in the Photoshop File Browser. Photoshop
uses what's called XMP, or the extensible metadata platform,
which allows you to carry information among various
Adobe applications (for example, Illustrator) and what they call
publishing workflows. The information you append to a file's
metadata, such as copyright information or document name,
then appears as metadata in other applications as well.
Some information is proprietary to the application and won't
cross applications. I find it frustrating, for example, that you can
add a keyword into an image's metadata in Photoshop, but it
won't appear in ACDSee, from ACD Systems; it does, however,
appear in iView MediaPro from iView MultiMedia Ltd. So, this is
something to check before you begin applying metadata keywords
and then opening or working with images in multiple
An expanding field
Metadata is an area of image management that will continue to
grow in importance and automation. Most digital files carry far
more digital information than anyone really knows what to do
with today. This is only sure to grow over time to be manipulated
in a variety of archival, review, and management techniques for
digital images as applications add metadata capabilities.
For example, it would be great if applications could evaluate a
series of images and compile a report showing information and
statistics about how the images were shot overall, including percentage
of flash images; average focal lengths, and exposures.
These types of analytical data would help in teaching and understanding
Serge Timacheff is a professional photographer who recently
made the switch to a fully digital operation. David Karlins
teaches graphic design at San Francisco State University.
This information is excerpted from their new book, Total
Digital Photography: The Shoot To Print Workflow Handbook (Wiley
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