About EXIF data

You have read before that I use a utility called EXIFTOOL to read EXIF data embedded in files. And there is much more embedded than you think. One important piece of data: file creation date. Take this, of a funnel cloud over Oakville  few years ago:

Apple INFO thinks;

2009, cool.

But EXIFTOOL gives me the real creation date:

Now in this case, Lightroom would have also given me the right date. But there are many more pieces of information in the EXIF data than Lightroom tells you. Go install EXIFTOOL (search for it) and have fun seeing what hidden gems of information your pictures contain.





Simple is good

And that can also apply to black and white photos. These recent business photos prove the point, it seems to me:

Both work very well in B/W:

  • The colour is not distracting (a yellow hallway. a green kitchemn)
  • I can make skin lighter or darker by dragging “Orange” in the B/W slider (HSL section) up or down.
  • I cam make other items lighter and darker too, this separating subject from b/g.

That is why I always send b/w versions of my photos to clients. Properly finished B/W versions, that is.


Size matters.

This time, I mean size of files. A student just wrote to ask:


“I have taken photos for some friends and used Lightroom for editing and exporting.  I did not shoot in RAW- still learning.  My SOOC images are substantially larger than my exported JPEG files.  For instance, one file is 6.72 MB but comes out 800KB once run through Lightroom.  I am exporting at a quality of 80, length and width of 4×6 and resolution of 300ppi.  My friend has asked me for larger files.  I am under the impression that larger files don’t necessarily mean better images, but perhaps I am wrong? Is this downsizing normal? I have never had any issues with print quality as long as I size in a 4×6 inch ratio and set 300ppi as my resolution.  Am I doing something wrong in exporting that is causing such a dramatic drop in file size?”


This is perfectly normal. A 7MB JPG (or a 14 MB RAW) will indeed be about 800 kB at those settings. Yes, your new JPG is smaller:

  • 300 ppi x 6″ = 1800 pixels wide, which is about one quarter of the actual size of the file.
  • 80% is going to result in a much smaller size than 100%: compression is the entire point of JPG files.

So if the original file is 6MB, then a quarter of that is 1.5MB, and with extra compression, 800 kB seems a perfectly normal file size: as expected.

Indeed, a larger file means better image quality. This is always the case; whether it is noticeably better is another question, of course.

I tend to think in pixels, Saying “1200 pixels long” is easier than saying “4 inches at 300 ppi”, and it means the same. You can specify either way, but I always prefer the simplest.

Finally: you tell me you are shooting a wedding soon. You should be shooting RAW. What is there to learn? Just select RAW as the filetype instead of JPG. Done. If you use Lightroom to finish your pictures, it will know the RAW format your camera produces: done. Simple.

And yes, sometimes things that appear simple are simple.



Outside the box, that is: Do not be afraid to think a little outside the box sometimes. Like here, me last night:

20s at f/7.1, ISO800. 50mm on Canon 1Dx.

The flash has a grid, leading to a circle of light, a spotlight effect. I am blown out by the flash, for an extra intense, eerie effect. The sky and houses have light due to a 20 second exposure. Post production made the saturation lower (“desat” effect). The “Dutch Angle” tilt gives it interest also.  And although the flash would take 10 seconds to remove in Lightroom using the healing tool, I prefer to leave it in for extra mystery effect. 50mm lens gives this a realistic, undistorted look.

Key in this photo? Balancing ambient (start with it!) and flash (add it afterward).

Now, off to a CEO shoot, which although it will presumably look very different will use the very same principles. Photography is an amazing tool.


Video Tip

I use my DSLRs for video; I also teach a course I developed on shooting video with DSLR cameras (see here).

Today, a tip from that course: Audio. Audio is very important, and I recommend a few simple things:

One: turn off auto level. Set the audio recording level manually, else every time no-one speaks the noise goes up.

Two: use an iPhone in your pocket if you have no lapel microphone. An iPhone gives you great audio quality at an incremental cost of zero, if you already have an iphone.

And three: use a clapper board app such as Digislate (thank you, intern Daniel, for this one). Using a clapperboard allows you to synchronize this iPhone audio with the video from your DSLR.

Done. Professional audio from an iPhone, a simple camera, and free iMovie software. Simple, innit?



The special on headshots is still on. Buy this week; take the headshot in my studio by August 14, and get a pro headshiot for much less than the regular price. See http://learning.photography or scroll down to yesterday’s post.