Posts Tagged ‘metadata’
This isn’t an anti-American, anti-government or anti-big business rant, it’s simply a plea for fairer play.
We continually stress the need for our photographers to add good and relevant keywords to their images, what we in the trade call the metadata. There are several reasons for this, and by far the most important to us is that without sensible, accurate keywords the most wonderful photograph in the world will never be found and therefore never sold.
The second most important reason is that once the picture sets off on its pilgrimage around the world it will be carrying with it its own passport or ID card, so that everyone who encounters it will know who it is and where it came from. If you have a home to go to you’ll never be an orphan.
Yet the British government is contemplating passing legislation on “orphan works” that could enable the use of a photographer’s intellectual property without prior permission and without a full and diligent search for the copyright holder. In “Digital Opportunity“, a report by Professor Ian Hargreaves, orphan works are defined as ‘works to which access is effectively barred because the copyright holder cannot be traced’.
No problem for our plucky little photographs. They’re armed with their passports and ID cards from the Fortunate Kingdom of Metadataland.
But what if, on their travels around the world, they venture into the Despotic Dictatorship of Facebookistan? Or the Democratic People’s Republic of Twitterbia? Or the Confederated States of Flickrania? Or any of the SocMed Pact empires?
Also no problem — for Facebookistan, Twitterbia and Flickrania, that is. They will automatically strip the photographs of their identity. The Fortunate Kingdom of Metadataland passport will be routinely removed and destroyed. Our photographs’ individuality will be erased. They are then free to carry on their journey without let or hindrance, but now descamisados; rootless, unidentifiable and orphaned.
This is what will happen if you upload a photograph to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr, as well as to Pictify, Photobucket and a host of other websites. Your metadata, your EXIF data and everything else that identifies the image will be discarded. It will become an Orphan Work.
Send a picture to the BBC after a winsome presenter pleads with you to upload your funniest animal photographs and you’ll find that suddenly the world’s cuddliest corporation will own your image outright in perpetuity without recompense.
Because they can, I guess. If you can steal, and the law permits you to get away with it, then it would be dumb not to steal.
According to a study by the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), major social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Flickr remove copyright information and other useful embedded data from pictures posted by their users.
Some sites don’t automatically deprive images of their data. Google+ and Tumblr come away with less blood on their hands. fotoLibra even ADDS to your metadata, to make it safer still.
Remember the fuss in December when Instagram altered its terms & conditions so that on January 16th the one billion images uploaded to their site would become their absolute property, with no recompense to the photographers? The outcry was massive, and grudgingly they had to back down. But no apology was ever forthcoming and their lawyers were still screaming and spitting defiance and denying malfeasance after the deadline had been and gone.
Have a look at IPTC’s photo metadata test results for Social Media sites. I’m afraid they don’t surprise me one bit.
There must be some affordable way of embedding metadata in a digital image which would destroy that image if it were removed or tampered with.
It’ll have to wait for a better coder than me.
I know Jacqui Norman goes on and on at members about the importance of GOOD metadata, and I’m delighted that our aviation expert Colin Smedley has reinforced her call, albeit with a coruscating look at the current standards of categorisation and keywording to be found among fotoLibra photographers. He certainly hasn’t minced his words. Here’s Colin:
Over recent weeks I have been taking a careful look at thousands of images in the fotoLibra library, all categories, not just aviation, just to see what was on offer. You might be surprised at my opinions on what I found.
If you are taking a coffee at this time you might like to put it down in case you splutter all over your keyboard!
Just over 20% of images are in the wrong categories. This in itself is not too bad a problem but it is definitely a frustration amplification factor for picture researchers. Many photographers seem unable to determine the principal subject of their picture. For example a image of a large car with a tiny sticker in the windscreen does not really belong under “advertising”; but a close-up of the sticker may.
About 45% have titles that are inadequate, inaccurate, misleading or just plain wrong. About 15% have titles that are “arty-farty” to the point of being meaningless to researchers. Some even have instead of a title an alphanumeric reference that means nothing to me, researchers and, I suggest, fotoLibra.
About 75% have keywords that are woefully inadequate, misleading, totally wrong or even absent altogether.
About 25% have keywords not properly entered, for example with full stops, hyphens, colons and slashes instead of commas or semi-colons. [crucial separators — GH] Many have sentences or even paragraphs in the keywords box, that is to say keywords that really belong under “description”. Some have keywords and/or descriptions that are transposed and in some cases cut and pasted from other websites such as Wikipedia. Incidentally, have you noticed the increasing internet trend to call keywords “tags”? A very large number of authors are confused by the term “description” and supply a descriptive history of the subject instead of a description of the image.
The combined effect of these failings on sales is potentially enormous. Large numbers of images being invisible to buyers, researchers being put off because they are presented with images with no relevance to their input parameters and random browsers puzzled by finding traction engines under “birds” or birds under “transport/maritime”. None of these factors can be relied upon to impress potential buyers with fotoLibra’s professional attributes.
Sorry to rant on but I did feel my opinions and misgivings needed to be aired. However you may consider these views should be more widely read.
Thank you very much indeed, Colin. We most certainly do.
We’re all here to sell images. We are aware that visual talent is not always congruent with verbal description — we don’t expect surgeons to be boxers as well. But professional picture buyers need to know they’re dealing with professionals, and professional photographers make sure their images can be found by adding concise, accurate, relevant keywords to their metadata.
Incidentally few things irritate picture buyers more than irrelevant over-keywording. A photograph of a lion should not include a list of its prey and other creatures which might be found in a 100 mile radius. It’s a lion, not a warthog, wildebeeste, tiger or elephant.
Colin wants us to recruit an army of expert volunteers in several fields to undertake the work he has started with the Aviation category. That’s a high hope, because men like Colin are the exception rather than the rule, but it’s worth asking anyway.
If there’s a particular subject you feel passionate about, would you like to help vet fotoLibra images in that category? I do what I can for architecture, but I can’t tell a gazania from a geranium. Please let me know if you’re interested. Your endeavours will be rewarded with praise and publicity.
I will not yield to anybody in my admiration for Adobe’s Photoshop. It is a stunning piece of software, and anyone who uses a digital camera for anything more than snapshots must have a copy — and use it.
I am less enamoured with Adobe, the corporation. It’s well known that I and many others abhor their commercial decision to charge 37% more for their recently released Creative Suite 5 in the UK than in the USA, as I argued in a recent blog.
Last week I went to a day-long presentation of Adobe CS5 in London, presented by Adobe Evangelists. This is not my opinion of them — this is the genuine job title they carry on their business cards. And they live up their titles: fervent, enthusiastic, excitable, missionary; they tried their level best to whip a somnolent English audience into paroxysms of frenzy with whoops and hollers, at one stage encouraging us to yell “Yee-HAW!” if a particular feature of CS5 caught our approval.
We didn’t. Not because we weren’t impressed, but because we were British. We don’t do “Yee-HAW!” especially when we have to pay 37% more than the Americans to shout “Yee-HAW!”
We just sat there, mute, unresponsive, like London pigeons ignoring the strutting, flaunting cock bird. For, like the pigeons, we all knew that we would end up getting screwed.
In the morning, we were shown the exciting new features in Photoshop CS5. And, in case we weren’t paying attention or we really were dead (as I swear the morning evangelist believed we were) they showed them again to us in the afternoon in a separate seminar. Still, we eventually got the point.
And yes, the new Photoshop has a fabulous new trick called Content Aware which looks at the background of an image, and if you delete something in the foreground you don’t have to be left with an empty hole as you would expect — it will guess at what’s behind and fill it in. You have to see it work, and you can here.
There’s another feature that enables you to pick up hard-to-select parts of an image such as flyaway hair. Very impressive.
But I had other more important concerns. Another new featurette (maybe this was in the page layout package in InDesign, part of CS5) allowed you to attach the Caption (or Keywords, or Description, or other parts of the IPTC dataset) directly to a placed image. Earlier versions of Photoshop have notoriously stripped out the IPTC metadata from an image, not the most useful feature for stock libraries and professional photographers, which are perhaps the audiences at which Photoshop is primarily aimed. So I asked our afternoon Evangelist Terry White if this sinful aberration had been rectified. He blinked cautiously, but then a mouthful of American teeth flashed a “Yes.”
If Terry told me the truth — and how could I doubt an Evangelist? — this is the strongest possible argument for the world upgrading to Adobe CS5. Forget the party tricks; this is what we need from a professional tool. It’s not before time.
Neither I nor anyone else asked if they’d built a more robust version. We didn’t have the heart, after Adobe Bridge crashed twice in the morning sessions. We Brits don’t like to embarrass people.
The relationship between Adobe’s Evangelists and their British audience reminds of the old story of a Frenchman who was caught having sexual relations with a corpse on a beach. Les flics pulled him off and asked what the hell he thought he was doing. “Mon Dieu!” he answered in some shock, “I thought she was English”.
I’ve lifted the following verbatim from Jacqui Norman’s regular newsletter to fotoLibra members.
“This strange poem, discovered on a fotoLibra server, lists in strict sequence the most commonly used keywords for the images in the fotoLibra archive. It’s more likely to have been on an Apple XServe than an HP Proliant, but all we know for sure is that this is the precise unedited and unaltered order of frequency of all keywords. Words appear individually; where they appear as if they could be linked, such as in
they’re not; that’s just the way the mop flops. Oh yes — and we inserted the punctuation and line breaks where we felt it to be right.
Of the water — England — and sea blue nature: UK!
White sky in park, travel, architecture: Britain!
Red landscape, river, beach, city tourism, north united, holiday trees.
A green south coast (formula Europe).
National great, grand black Wales.
London building garden, British west;
Flower, lake, old bird tourist art.
Summer kingdom, prix heritage, flowers tree to boat on wildlife people.
One Church — Scotland! Street winter history, new vacation bridge.
Mountains young, view wild, sand countryside, house (yellow stone) —
Clouds, snow, mountain, transport, country sport, car, animal island, town colour — Italy! Boats, sun …
America: light tower, road holidays, sunset world.
Castle: English man attraction portrait. Autumn birds, buildings spring, fishing; grass, air — life.
Animals rocks harbour, from up plant rock Spain food plants. Woman by colourful France at natural historic walking religion; village leisure leaves China bay forest seaside girl.
American sunny night (racing culture) ocean gardens — coastal brown — scenic day valley war with motor.
Ireland: ancient David beauty, wall orange.
Traditional beautiful wood female children, aircraft farm woodland royal field; pink color, hill high — reflection.
Sunday states steam evening is market for lifestyle. Close religious centre!
Head flying, canal weather, abstract ice coastline.
Cold railway district. Environment islands? Scene bright.
Horizontal rural Yorkshire; Canada; Asia; European child.
Stunning, isn’t it? Eat your heart out, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Can an Apple XServe be nominated for Poet Laureate?”
Talking about poetry, last year the local council in Gwynedd put on a series of Poetry Appreciation night classes, so along went Jacqui Norman. Only women showed up. Typical.
Jacqui had a word with the organizer, who this season announced the same course renamed as Advanced Poetry Appreciation. It’s now packed out with men.