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IPTC Keywords & Meta Data

IPTC Keywords & Meta Data

When you take a photo, your camera records a ton of meta data right in the picture. The size of the photo, the model of camera, was a flash used — that’s just some of the information recorded along with the date and time.

A great new feature in Picasa is the fact that any caption or keywords you give a photo will be written to the photo itself, embedded as meta data.

Why’s that great? With Photoshop Album, the information is stored within a proprietary database. So at the moment, all my hard work in tagging photos is useless to me if I leave Album (but Album users, don’t fret — I’ll come back to a workaround).

Similarly, take the popular photo sharing site Flickr. It doesn’t yet (apparently) support reading IPTC data. But when that comes — and I’m sure it will — then having that data in your photos will mean you could more easily have it translated into Flickr’s popular tag feature.

So thank you Picasa — you’ve given this type of support in a free program. But boo — as mentioned, it’s not linked to the label feature. Instead, you have to select the photos you want to embed keywords in, select View, then Keywords, then add the keyword to them.

The downside is obvious — all the hard work you do in labeling photos ought to translate into automatically keywording them, as well.

Picasa general manager Lars Perkins says that uniting these two features is something that should come in the future.

“It’s something that we’ll be moving together. We’re practically there,” he said.

Another fix that will come in the near feature is preserving keyword phrases. For example, say you give a photo a keyword of “new york.” That will get broken apart into separate words in Picasa, as “new” and “york.” Keeping the words together is more helpful if doing a keyword search, such as with a desktop tool that can read IPTC data.

By the way, keyword searching is something Picasa offers that Photoshop Album doesn’t. Want to find all the photos shot with a flash? You can type “flash” into the search box in Picasa and do it. Photoshop Album lacks any search box that I can see — though having said this, I’ve also never needed one, to date.