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How to Create List of EXIF and IPTC Tag Values

In my last Travel Photographer Tutorial, I explained how to create a list of the dimensions (pixel width and height), of every photograph in a folder: an essential requirement if you are setting up a database of your own portfolio of photographs. I used a readily-available automated tool that can scan an entire folder or directory, and produce a text file with all the information that we needed in it. This tool, called 'EXIFtool', can be downloaded for free from the EXIFtool homepage External link opens a new Browser window. Unfortunately it has no GUI (Graphic User Interface) so you will need to action it using the Command Prompt, or a DOS BAT file. Unless you have been working with computers since the 1980s, these may be unfamiliar tools, and apt to fill today's computer user, more familiar with the mouse and the icon, full of dread. Don't worry! This Tutorial will explain everything you need to do, and how to do it, in the simplest of terms.

What is ExifTool? It is a stand-alone Windows program written and kindly made available for free by Phil Harvey. It can read and write the Meta Information in your photographs. Meta Information lists all kinds of interesting information that is hidden away in each of the photographs you take, such as when it was taken, the aperture used, the shutter speed used, flash information, and much much more. It is the space that you write to when adding a Description, Location or Keywords to your images, prior to submitting them to a Photo Agency. ExifTool can access and update all of this information, if you use the right commands. It can also produce a file that contains tag information from images in a given directory, and all sub-directories, which is the way that we are using it here.

In the last Travel Photographer Tutorial, I showed how to use ExifTool to create a list of photo-sizes. This time, we will explore what other information is available in the EXIF and IPTC tags of your photographs, and find out how to create a list of selected tags that you choose as important to you. First of all, you will need the stand-alone Windows version of the EXIFtool program. You will also need two blank text files called 'explore.txt' and 'out.txt'. You can create them yourself, or you can conveniently download all three, plus some other useful files, by clicking on this download link: EXIFtool-2 (3.7MB). After unzipping the archive, you will see that all of these files are in a directory called 'photos'. Using 'My Computer' or 'Windows Explorer', you should Move this directory to the Root directory, so that its new address will be C:\photos

With the files in place, the next thing we need to do is to explore the available tags in a photograph. To do this, we could type the required commands into a Command Prompt window as in the last Tutorial example, but it is easy to make a mistake when doing it, so this time we will use a 'bat' file that types the information for you, without making an error. Look in the 'C:\photos' folders and you will find a file called 'explore_tags.bat'. You should examine its contents by clicking 'Start > Programs > Accessories > Notepad' to start the 'Notepad' program, then in it click 'File > Open' then navigate to the 'C:\photos' folder. You probably won't see the 'explore_tags.bat' file in the window as it is not a text file: just change the 'Text documents' value in the 'Files of type' box to 'All files' and you can then select the 'explore_tags.bat' file and open it. Alternatively, you can use any text-editor program. Don't use 'Word' or similar word-processing programs, as these add extra unwanted characters that will stop a 'bat' file from working.

Looking in the 'explore_tags.bat' file, we will see a number of lines; the most important line being:

exiftool -D -f -G -s c:\photos > explore.txt

If you read the documentation included in the 'C:\photos\html' folder you will learn that this command line will open whatever photos are in the 'C:\photos\' folder and produce a list of all available tags within that photograph. Lets try it now! Double-click the 'explore_tags.bat' file, and a small Command Prompt window will open, and the EXIFtool program will start to operate on the sample photograph that I have included in the 'C:\photos' folder: it is called 'IndependantPhotographer-Example.jpg' and comes from the IPTC organisation as a sample to show how data should be saved in a photo's Meta tags. When the program has finished, the window will say 'Press any key to continue...'. Do this, and the window will close. We can now open the 'explore.txt' file with Notepad, or your favorite text editor program. The contents should look like the example copied to here:

======== C:/photos/IndependantPhotographer-Example.jpg
[ExifTool]          - ExifToolVersion                 : 8.29
[File]              - FileName                        : IndependantPhotographer-Example.jpg
[File]              - Directory                       : C:/photos
[File]              - FileSize                        : 53 kB
[File]              - FileModifyDate                  : 2007:01:08 17:29:12+00:00
[File]              - FilePermissions                 : rw-rw-rw-
[File]              - FileType                        : JPEG
[File]              - MIMEType                        : image/jpeg
[File]              - ExifByteOrder                   : Big-endian (Motorola, MM)
[File]              - CurrentIPTCDigest               : b5cd9a796f722cdd65b6ee0a02143f25
[File]              - ImageWidth                      : 288
[File]              - ImageHeight                     : 432
[File]              - EncodingProcess                 : Baseline DCT, Huffman coding
[File]              - BitsPerSample                   : 8
[File]              - ColorComponents                 : 3
[File]              - YCbCrSubSampling                : YCbCr4:4:4 (1 1)
[JFIF]              0 JFIFVersion                     : 1.02
[EXIF]            270 ImageDescription                : Three year old African American boy yells with joy on beach during
[EXIF]            274 Orientation                     : Horizontal (normal)
[EXIF]            282 XResolution                     : 72
[EXIF]            283 YResolution                     : 72
[EXIF]            296 ResolutionUnit                  : inches
[EXIF]            305 Software                        : Adobe Photoshop CS Windows
[EXIF]            306 ModifyDate                      : 2005:03:13 02:02:29
[EXIF]            315 Artist                          : John Doe
[EXIF]          33432 Copyright                       : 2004 John Doe, all rights reserved
[EXIF]          40961 ColorSpace                      : sRGB
[EXIF]          40962 ExifImageWidth                  : 288
[EXIF]          40963 ExifImageHeight                 : 432
[EXIF]            259 Compression                     : JPEG (old-style)
[EXIF]            513 ThumbnailOffset                 : 488
[EXIF]            514 ThumbnailLength                 : 4772
[IPTC]              0 ApplicationRecordVersion        : 2
[IPTC]            120 Caption-Abstract                : Three year old African American boy yells with joy on beach during
[IPTC]            122 Writer-Editor                   : John Doe
[IPTC]             40 SpecialInstructions             : Original RAW capture Nikon D2X, Adobe RGB 1998.
[IPTC]             80 By-line                         : John Doe
[IPTC]             85 By-lineTitle                    : Photographer
[IPTC]              5 ObjectName                      : 20040819_pe_014578d.nef
[IPTC]             95 Province-State                  : Michigan
[IPTC]            101 Country-PrimaryLocationName     : United States
[IPTC]            103 OriginalTransmissionReference   : PO 34567
[IPTC]             25 Keywords                        : boy, gender, human beings, humans, lad, male, people, 3-12 years old,
 age, child, youth, african american, african-american, black, ethnic, ethnicity, people of color, race, beach, nature,
 scenery, emotion, emotional, emotions, happiness, happy, joy, joyful, joyous
[IPTC]            116 CopyrightNotice                 : 2004 John Doe, all rights reserved
[Photoshop]      1061 IPTCDigest                      : b5cd9a796f722cdd65b6ee0a02143f25
[Photoshop]         2 DisplayedUnitsX                 : inches
[Photoshop]         6 DisplayedUnitsY                 : inches
[Photoshop]      1037 GlobalAngle                     : 30
[Photoshop]      1049 GlobalAltitude                  : 30
[Photoshop]      1034 CopyrightFlag                   : True
[Photoshop]      1035 URL                             :
[Photoshop]      1036 PhotoshopThumbnail              : (Binary data 4772 bytes, use -b option to extract)
[Photoshop]         0 PhotoshopQuality                : 8
[Photoshop]         1 PhotoshopFormat                 : Standard
[Photoshop]         2 ProgressiveScans                : 3 Scans
[XMP]               - XMPToolkit                      : 3.1.2-113
[XMP]               - About                           : uuid:0f410648-9396-11d9-bb8e-a67e6693b6e9
[XMP]               - IntellectualGenre               : Profile
[XMP]               - Location                        : Lake Superior
[XMP]               - CountryCode                     : US
[XMP]               - NativeDigest                    : 36864,40960,40961,37121,37122,40962,40963,37510,40964,36867,36868,33434,
[XMP]               - AuthorsPosition                 : Photographer
[XMP]               - Headline                        : Young boy yelling
[XMP]               - CaptionWriter                   : John Doe
[XMP]               - DateCreated                     : 2004:08:19
[XMP]               - City                            : Marquette
[XMP]               - State                           : Michigan
[XMP]               - Country                         : United States
[XMP]               - TransmissionReference           : PO 34567
[XMP]               - Instructions                    : Original RAW capture Nikon D2X, Adobe RGB 1998.
[XMP]               - Credit                          : John Doe Photography
[XMP]               - Source                          : John Doe Photography
[XMP]               - ICCProfileName                  : sRGB IEC61966-2.1
[XMP]               - ColorMode                       : RGB
[XMP]               - CreateDate                      : 2005:03:13 02:02:29-06:00
[XMP]               - MetadataDate                    : 2007:01:08 13:25:07+01:00
[XMP]               - CreatorTool                     : Adobe Photoshop CS Windows
[XMP]               - DocumentID                      : adobe:docid:photoshop:0f410647-9396-11d9-bb8e-a67e6693b6e9
[XMP]               - Marked                          : True
[XMP]               - WebStatement                    :
[XMP]               - Format                          : image/jpeg
[XMP]               - Recommend                       : False
[XMP]               - CreatorAddress                  : John Doe Photography, 123 Maple Lane
[XMP]               - CreatorCity                     : Champaign
[XMP]               - CreatorRegion                   : Illinois
[XMP]               - CreatorPostalCode               : 61820
[XMP]               - CreatorCountry                  : USA
[XMP]               - CreatorWorkTelephone            : +1 (217) 1234567
[XMP]               - CreatorWorkEmail                :
[XMP]               - CreatorWorkURL                  :
[XMP]               - SubjectCode                     : 14024001
[XMP]               - Scene                           : 012300
[XMP]               - DerivedFromInstanceID           : uuid:f5b64171-9394-11d9-bb8e-a67e6693b6e9
[XMP]               - DerivedFromDocumentID           : adobe:docid:photoshop:e4d002a4-9392-11d9-bb8e-a67e6693b6e9
[XMP]               - RightsUsageTerms                : For consideration only, no reproduction without prior permission
[XMP]               - UsageTerms                      : For consideration only, no reproduction without prior permission
[XMP]               - Description                     : Three year old African American boy yells with joy on beach during
[XMP]               - Title                           : 20040819_pe_014578d.nef
[XMP]               - Rights                          : 2004 John Doe, all rights reserved
[XMP]               - Creator                         : John Doe
[XMP]               - Subject                         : boy, gender, human beings, humans, lad, male, people, 3-12 years old,
 age, child, youth, african american, african-american, black, ethnic, ethnicity, people of color, race, beach, nature,
 scenery, emotion, emotional, emotions, happiness, happy, joy, joyful, joyous
[ICC_Profile]       4 ProfileCMMType                  : Lino
[ICC_Profile]       8 ProfileVersion                  : 2.1.0
[ICC_Profile]      12 ProfileClass                    : Display Device Profile
[ICC_Profile]      16 ColorSpaceData                  : RGB
[ICC_Profile]      20 ProfileConnectionSpace          : XYZ
[ICC_Profile]      24 ProfileDateTime                 : 1998:02:09 06:49:00
[ICC_Profile]      36 ProfileFileSignature            : acsp
[ICC_Profile]      40 PrimaryPlatform                 : Microsoft Corporation
[ICC_Profile]      44 CMMFlags                        : Not Embedded, Independent
[ICC_Profile]      48 DeviceManufacturer              : IEC
[ICC_Profile]      52 DeviceModel                     : sRGB
[ICC_Profile]      56 DeviceAttributes                : Reflective, Glossy, Positive, Color
[ICC_Profile]      64 RenderingIntent                 : Media-Relative Colorimetric
[ICC_Profile]      68 ConnectionSpaceIlluminant       : 0.9642 1 0.82491
[ICC_Profile]      80 ProfileCreator                  : HP
[ICC_Profile]      84 ProfileID                       : 0
[ICC_Profile]       - ProfileCopyright                : Copyright (c) 1998 Hewlett-Packard Company
[ICC_Profile]       - ProfileDescription              : sRGB IEC61966-2.1
[ICC_Profile]       - MediaWhitePoint                 : 0.95045 1 1.08905
[ICC_Profile]       - MediaBlackPoint                 : 0 0 0
[ICC_Profile]       - RedMatrixColumn                 : 0.43607 0.22249 0.01392
[ICC_Profile]       - GreenMatrixColumn               : 0.38515 0.71687 0.09708
[ICC_Profile]       - BlueMatrixColumn                : 0.14307 0.06061 0.7141
[ICC_Profile]       - DeviceMfgDesc                   : IEC
[ICC_Profile]       - DeviceModelDesc                 : IEC 61966-2.1 Default RGB colour space - sRGB
[ICC_Profile]       - ViewingCondDesc                 : Reference Viewing Condition in IEC61966-2.1
[ICC_Profile]       8 ViewingCondIlluminant           : 19.6445 20.3718 16.8089
[ICC_Profile]      20 ViewingCondSurround             : 3.92889 4.07439 3.36179
[ICC_Profile]      32 ViewingCondIlluminantType       : D50
[ICC_Profile]       - Luminance                       : 76.03647 80 87.12462
[ICC_Profile]       8 MeasurementObserver             : CIE 1931
[ICC_Profile]      12 MeasurementBacking              : 0 0 0
[ICC_Profile]      24 MeasurementGeometry             : Unknown (0)
[ICC_Profile]      28 MeasurementFlare                : 0.999%
[ICC_Profile]      32 MeasurementIlluminant           : D65
[ICC_Profile]       - Technology                      : Cathode Ray Tube Display
[ICC_Profile]       - RedTRC                          : (Binary data 2060 bytes, use -b option to extract)
[ICC_Profile]       - GreenTRC                        : (Binary data 2060 bytes, use -b option to extract)
[ICC_Profile]       - BlueTRC                         : (Binary data 2060 bytes, use -b option to extract)
[APP14]             0 DCTEncodeVersion                : 100
[APP14]             1 APP14Flags0                     : (none)
[APP14]             2 APP14Flags1                     : (none)
[APP14]             3 ColorTransform                  : YCbCr
[Composite]         - ImageSize                       : 288x432
[Composite]         - ThumbnailImage                  : (Binary data 4772 bytes, use -b option to extract)
    1 directories scanned

Alternatively, you can select a photograph of your own that you are interested in, and copy it to 'C:\photos' directory. Double-click the 'explore_tags.bat' file again, then look at the new contents of the 'explore.txt' file when the program has finished to see what the values of your own available tags will be. What we are interested in are the values of the centre column: these list all of the available tags within that photograph.

We will now create/modify another bat file to list the values that we are interested in. Locate and open the 'exiftool.bat' file (notice the different name!) with Notepad as described above. You will see the following important line:

exiftool -f -r -T -filename -ImageWidth -ImageHeight -ISO -ShutterSpeedValue -Aperture -FocalLength -Lens c:\photos > out.txt

The important values here are:

   -f       Show all available tags, even if they have a null-value
   -r       Examine the folder recursively
   -T       Display the details in a tabular format

The other values in the command line select which details from your photographs you wish to collect. You can use any values from the middle column of the tag list. Each value should be prefixed with a minus-character (-). (The values shown above are ones from a photograph taken with my own Nikon D300 camera.) The final characters of the command line: 'c:\photos > out.txt' tells the program to store details for each photo that it finds in the 'c:\photos' folder to the 'out.txt' file. As mentioned above, any existing contents of the 'out.txt' file will be over-written, so you may wish to copy them elsewhere before running the 'exiftool.bat' program for a second time.

OK - lets try it. Remove the test-photos from the 'c:\photos' folder, then Copy all of your own photos that you wish to create a list for into it. Double-click on the 'exiftool.bat' file, and when it has finished, open the 'out.txt' file with a text editor as before. This time, you will see something like this:

C1010.tif	4301   2856   200   1/320   9.0   14.0 mm   12.0-24.0 mm f/4.0
C1625.tif	4306   2859   200   1/200   7.1   12.0 mm   12.0-24.0 mm f/4.0

In this example I had 2 photographs in the 'C:\photos' folder. The output shows one line for each photograph, with the filename in the first column. The other values: Image Width, Image Height, ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture, Focal Length, and Lens Type, correspond to the tag-names that I have included in my command line. These values may not work for your photographs, so run the 'explore_tags.bat' program first of all to find out what the available names in your photographs are.

For further information on the other ExifTool options, or to find out other things you can do with ExifTool, check out the ExifTool documentation which I have included in the 'photos/html' directory: just click on the 'index.html' file. You can also double-click on the 'exiftool.exe' file itself, which will open a 'Command Prompt' window with lots of information.

Are the times and dates that your photos were taken showing correctly? Are you confident that you know when they were taken? Read my next tutorial: When was your Photo Taken? and prepare to be surprised.


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