Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Basic Processing of (a Shedload of) Vacation Pictures and Videos

We went to an amazing, "bucket list" location like for a week, armed with an underwater camera just for the occasion.  So many amazing sights and memories were captured.  Then we get home and have over a thousand pictures and movies to process...and by process, I really mean getting them into a sensible collection of files that I can easily locate and access.

Get The Files Onto A Computer

Working with files on a phone or camera is a pain.  You are going to be greatly hampered by access speed and will likely have to deal with additional warnings about deleting images.  In addition to this, if your device has native memory and a memory card, you may have images in multiple locations.  But probably the most important aspect is being able to see the images on a larger screen to better assess which are grainy, out of focus, off-center, etc.  So, I pull off the images immediately to save time and annoyance.

Delete the Obvious Detritus

Right away, I start clicking through the pictures to kill off the obviously bad ones.  Less images means easier handling and faster processing, so I might as well reduce the pile ASAP.  I don't waste my time at this point by trying to pick through and find the absolute best pictures, I just slam through them with the built-in viewer on my laptop and delete the obviously bad ones.

In fact, I would argue that this is not a good time to look for the perfect pictures.  You have so many that you might be too willing to delete good ones.  So, just focus on the bad ones for now.

Assign Useful Filenames With File Renamer Basic

OK, so I still have a huge pile of images.  Right now, I am very familiar with these pictures and exactly both when and where they happened.  In a year or ten...not so much.  Also, when I dump these into a bucket with other pictures, I don't want to lose track of them.

Another concern is that, as I start working with the photos, I might edit them or move them and potentially end up modifying the metadata, which could throw the chronological order out of whack.

So, I use a simple file-naming approach that orders things relatively well.

  1. The date the image was created in YYYYMMDD format so that they sort properly in chronological order when sorted alphabetically.
  2. Underscore*
  3. Some descriptive word
  4. Underscore
  5. For this trip, a description of the device, because there was more than one
  6. Underscore
  7. The original counter number from the device
  8. And the usual file extension

* - I use underscores instead of spaces in filenames, some prefer hyphens; do what suits you best, but I still avoid spaces because in some cases it can be problematic (though, admittedly, most people will not encounter those problems).

I am not interested in doing something like this manually for even a few dozen files, let alone a thousand.  So I use File Renamer Basic, which you can grab from CNET's File Renamer Basic page.  I use the "Advanced" tab and use their "keywords" as follows to achieve the desired file name construction.  Here is an example for a Kodak device used in the Galapagos Islands:

NOTE: you may need to use "file modified" instead of "file created" for images from your phone, e.g., "fmyyyy" instead of "fcyyyy".

You can always add a little bit to the description if you like, to easily find that one picture of a shark or unicorn, but for now, we just want something that gives the file names coherence, makes them easy to identify, and preserves the original chronological order.

The Next Steps

For the most part, this is all the processing an image will need. Now you can decide if you want to edit the images and videos without worrying about losing track of what was what.  Good luck!

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