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A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby Steven G Webb » Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:31 am

First a little background: I have an opportunity to work with a coin dealer. He wants to host a website for coin listings both for his own inventory and as a provider for other dealers. My part in this will be to photograph the coins and catalog them. I've been looking at a database that has fields for all the information as well as 7 spaces for images. I'm keenly aware of the need for organization in filing, I'm not inherently gifted in organizational skill.

Now the question: Should I rename the image files to reflect elements that will be in the database? Perhaps the unique ID number, issue date, denomination? By using the coin information in the file name I would have simple search criteria of the image files independent of the database, should it go away. We're talking about potentially tens of thousands of individual coins with at least 2 images, perhaps 4-5 of each. I need to keep track of the specifics on each coin, tie them back to the particular coin and ultimately be able to retrieve the physical coin upon sale. I could just use the serial number assigned to each coin as the file name and append the specifics in the metadata. I'm clueless. Maybe if anyone catalogs images for stock you have some pointers.
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Re: A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby Duck » Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:01 am

Most active collectors, specially those who buy and sell on a regular basis, will have some kind of tracking number or item number. This is usually a unique identifier marked somewhere on the envelope containing the item that allows them to catalog and track the product. The simplest method for you to catalog the images is to utilize their coding system rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Your job will then be to make sure that each item gets carefully entered into your own cataloging system as you photograph each item.

Think of it like taking school photos where you have 150 unique items (students) each identified by a unique value (name). As each student sits for their photo you take their information, link it to the shots you take of them and then move on to the next student. If the school needs a specific photo they just give you the name of their student, you cross reference it in your catalog, pull up that student's photo and, voila, image located.

As for "physical" cataloging; I feel redundancy, in your case, would probably be the best choice although it's a bit more work on your end. But in the long run it may save you some headaches. Here is what I mean by redundancy ;

1- Each image is given a unique filename based on the item number plus a consecutive number, e.g. CP123X12_001.JPG, CP123X12_002.JPG, CP123X12_003.JPG where image 001, 002 and 003 reflect different sides/views photographed.

2- Each image is tagged with the item number as a keyword for easy recall as the collection gets larger, e.g. CP123X12, coin, silver, 1912, etc. Keywords can be obtained from the collector's own catalog entries.

3- Each set of images for each item should be placed into their own folder to segregate items from each other, e.g. C:\CatalogName\GroupName\CP123X12 where GroupName is some form of logical group (coins, bills, issue year, etc.) as there is only a finite number of folders that can be created within folders on a disc.

On a side note; While for the most part it is wise and suggested to shoot RAW. In this case it may be easier to just shoot JPG since editing isn't overly critical. In this way you will be saving disc space by not having to keep both RAWs and JPGs.
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Re: A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby Steven G Webb » Thu Feb 04, 2016 4:03 pm

All good thoughts Duck. Thanks.
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Re: A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby cyclohexane » Fri Feb 12, 2016 7:36 pm

I've got some thoughts saved that I'll attach to this post.

In a nutshell, I would recommend using the IPTC quasi-standard used to keyword image files by many programs and organizations. Photo Mechanic, Lightroom, Phase One's Capture One, etc. should be able to read and edit this information. I'd guess ACDSee and a few other similar programs have similar capabilities as well, but cannot confirm. Nikon's own software notably does not adhere to the standard despite attempting to, hence I sometimes refer to IPTC as "quasi-standard".

Once you're using IPTC, the end user can use any software of their choice to search the keywords and information; I've input the information in Photo Mechanic and later used Capture One or Lightroom to sort through the information and find specific images. Facebook, SmugMug, PhotoShelter, Flickr and others will automatically pull a few of the IPTC fields such as "Caption" or "Description" and populates the relevant fields when uploading images.

The item numbers mentioned by Duck probably belong in the "Object Name" or "Transmission Reference" IPTC field, but now they have additional fields like "Title" and other ones you can use instead.

Here are two examples of old workflows involving Photo Mechanic from Camera Bits (expensive, and not the only option any more). I've reproduced the old text below. Some of it is relevant, some of it not, but I think there's some food for thought contained within.

Photo Mechanic is one of the best pieces of software I've ever used.

I still run it every day as my primary DAM solution and browser even though I own the latest versions of Aperture and Lightroom. I would start by going to the Camera Bits website. They give a good overview, and highlight the key features. You can download a demo and try it for yourself.

Photo Mechanic is still the fastest browser for going through previews of your RAW files. Adobe can't touch the kind of speed Photo Mechanic offers.

Photo Mechanic was one of the original programs capable of being a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution. Of course, Photo Mechanic does so much more; it is the editorial photography world's industry standard for captioning, keywording, and crediting images.

Photo Mechanic also offers the ability to do code replacement for quick captioning, which is a cool little feature if you want to use it. In previous versions, you could upload your files directly out of Photo Mechanic to certain hosts, though the supported webhosts have now folded, so that feature is gone. You can still transmit directly to Associated Press through Photo Mechanic if you are working for the AP.

Photo Mechanic uses the IPTC standard, which writes the information directly into the file, sort of like EXIF, and can be read by numerous programs. Lightroom, Aperture, and perhaps ACDSee are just some of the programs that support IPTC. Bridge and even Photoshop itself have limited IPTC support as well.

You can quickly sort your files by Capture Time, camera used, ISO, lens used, and any other host of variables that you define.

Photo Mechanic can ingest your images from your card out of your card reader (or camera) and automatically apply captions, keywords, credits, copyright information, contact information, license terms (and more) that you've prepared in advance, and also automatically store the original file name, time and date of the image, and a host of other variables (look at "variable list" in the program's demo) to make your organization easier.

The difference between something like Photo Mechanic and other software like Lightroom or Aperture is that Lightroom or Aperture rely on catalogs constructed by the program itself, and must generate previews using their own conversion engine for your files, which takes a longer time than Photo Mechanic ripping the original embedded previews from the RAW files. If you move the files on your computer outside of the program, you often need to manually redirect LR or Aperture to the new location; Photo Mechanic doesn't have any of those problems, because the organization structure is dependent on the operating system, and if something gets all funky Photo Mechanic still works like a dream.

You can tag your photos in Photo Mechanic, rate them 1-5 stars, and color code them (and rename the colors to whatever you want them to represent). You can even send the photos straight to your favorite editing software, e.g. Photoshop, with a quick press of the "E" key on your keyboard. If you're on a Mac, Photo Mechanic can use Apple's RAW converter to convert your RAW files on the spot to JPEGs, TIFFs, or DNG.

Editing using the "E" key is not as seamless as being able to edit the photo on the spot in Lightroom by switching over to the Develop Module, or in Aperture, but I prefer to manage my images in Photo Mechanic, and then move the selected images into my RAW converter of choice (Aperture, Lightroom, or ACR in Photoshop if it's just one picture). Saves a lot of time if Aperture and Lightroom aren't generating previews for pictures I'm not going to use at all.

One cool thing about Photo Mechanic is that it can read actuations from RAW files, e.g. Nikon NEFs, and perhaps even the newest Canon 1D Mk IV. Most EXIF readers only work with JPEGs.

If you're still interested, here's a quick look at one of my workflows:

When I pull cards out of my cameras, I will ingest them into the computer. With Photo Mechanic, I can automate the folder creation process on a target drive or location if I so choose; I can point it at "2011" folder on my external drive, and then using the ingest dialog, Photo Mechanic will automatically add a folder with the day's date ("20110323" for today) and inside will add a folder with a name of my choosing.

I can automatically rename the ingested photos and apply the IPTC information I've prepared in advance, but I'm not going to do that today since I have shot with more than one camera. I can also only ingest "locked" photos that I tagged in-camera using the lock button while reviewing images on the LCD, which is great for getting your top photos onto the computer when on deadline, but again I don't need to do that right now.

So, once I've gotten all my cards ingested on the computer, I open up the "Contact Sheet" where all the files are. By default, the photos are sorted by Filename, which is the fastest sorting Photo Mechanic is capable of. My first camera's pictures are named "1MC_3745.NEF, 1MC3746.NEF...", second camera "2MC_8952.NEF, 2MC_8953.NEF...", and the third camera is similar, etc. I want the pictures to be sorted by Capture Time all the time, but "Sort by Capture Time" takes time out of my workflow if I have to do it each time I return to this shoot, so I want to rename all the photos, but only after I order them by Capture Time, so I select "Sort By Capture Time", and the computer and program do its thing for a few seconds.

Now that everything's in order, I hit Cmd + A to select all the files (Ctrl + A on Windows) and then Cmd + M to rename the files. A dialog comes up where I can define the starting number for the file (usually "1") and how many leading zeroes I want in front of the number ("0001"... etc.). I have the program set up to automatically add the date to the front of each file name, and I just need to set the starting number and my naming convention before I'm ready to go.

The window will read something like "{yr2}{month0}{day0}_MBKC_{seqn}", "yr2" will be "11" for a two-digit abbreviation of 2011, "month0" will be "03" for March, and "day0" will be "23" for today, with a leading 0 for the first nine days of each month. "MBKC" is the only thing I have to type in by hand, which is "Men's Basketball, College", and "seqn" is the file number, starting with "0001" which I defined earlier.

After the files are renamed, I hit Cmd + I to open up the "IPTC Stationary Pad", which is where my prepared boilerpate caption, credits, copyright info, and keywords live. I have it set to record the original file name as well, so when a client receives a file, renames it, and later wants a higher resolution copy or something, I can just open their renamed file in Photo Mechanic and immediately know which file I need to provide them from my archive.

After this is done, I tag the pictures I want to use, copy only the tagged pictures into a new folder, and bring that folder into my RAW converter of choice, say Lightroom or Aperture, and edit the files.

Once I have converted the files to the file format of choice for delivery, I can go back into Photo Mechanic and add in rights usage information and anything else, e.g. "Web only; no prints" or whatever the client and I have agreed to.

If I ever need to go back and find something, because of my caption and keywording, I can use Photo Mechanic's powerful search function to find what I need. Let's say I want a picture of "Tyler Howard", fictional basketball power forward. All I need to do is type in "Tyler Howard", and any pictures I have of him on my built-in drive, any connected externals, and any USB sticks, CDs inserted into the drive, etc. will be scoured for anything captioned or keyworded or named "Tyler Howard", and all the pictures I have of him will appear on my screen. If I want all my pictures of a particular school's teams, say the fictional boarding school in Timbuktu mentioned in some family comedies in the 90's, I could type in the name of the school and have all the pictures of said Timbuktu Preparatory Academy show up on my screen.

Hopefully, this helps a little. Please let me know if you have any specific questions, and Kirk over at Camera Bits is very helpful as well.

I'm not sure I recommend switching to Photo Mechanic if you're already using something like Aperture or Lightroom; they get the job done for most shooters. For the high volume of editiorial shooting I do, Lightroom or Aperture would be bogged down beyond belief with massive catalogs considering I've shot about 315,000 frames in the last six or seven years.

--------

For software, there is Photo Mechanic. We use this at work handling many images from at least 48 photographers being edited by at least 4 different editors for color print, black-and-white print, web, and TV use. Hasn't caused any problems in the many years that it's been used. Photo Mechanic is fast on a decent machine (doesn't have to be great); I haven't had enough experience with Lightroom to make an effective comparison.

We organize our photos by date, assignment (slug), photographer. Then, they're separated into good/usable, already run (print), already run (web), and unusable/bin-it-already. Not quite as complex as what you seem to be doing (I haven't gone through the entire thread, but I skimmed it as I have to get going) though.

Our photos tend to be found in a directory structure like:

New > 20071110 > fball vs asu -MRC

and named:

20071110-fballvsasu-MRC0001
20071110-fballvsasu-MRC0002...

(Date)-(slug)-(Photographer)

When they get edited they go out something like:

1.sp.fballvsasuwrap.picA.TIFF (color print)
sp.fballvsasuwrap.picA.TIFF (black-and-white print)
web.sp.fballvsasuwrap.picA.JPG (web)

(use).(section).(story).(picture).TIFF/JPG

In between, things are tagged, color-classed, moved to a separate location, and so on as they get worked on, finally ending their journey on a server devoted to completed pictures and graphics.

Just what we do... good luck with your system, as your work is obviously a bit different from what we're doing.
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Re: A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby Steven G Webb » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:00 pm

Insightful stuff Michael, as always. Thank you.
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Re: A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby Steven G Webb » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:53 pm

cyclohexane wrote:I've got some thoughts saved that I'll attach to this post.

In a nutshell, I would recommend using the IPTC quasi-standard used to keyword image files by many programs and organizations. Photo Mechanic, Lightroom, Phase One's Capture One, etc. should be able to read and edit this information. I'd guess ACDSee and a few other similar programs have similar capabilities as well, but cannot confirm. Nikon's own software notably does not adhere to the standard despite attempting to, hence I sometimes refer to IPTC as "quasi-standard".

Once you're using IPTC, the end user can use any software of their choice to search the keywords and information; I've input the information in Photo Mechanic and later used Capture One or Lightroom to sort through the information and find specific images. Facebook, SmugMug, PhotoShelter, Flickr and others will automatically pull a few of the IPTC fields such as "Caption" or "Description" and populates the relevant fields when uploading images.

The item numbers mentioned by Duck probably belong in the "Object Name" or "Transmission Reference" IPTC field, but now they have additional fields like "Title" and other ones you can use instead.

Here are two examples of old workflows involving Photo Mechanic from Camera Bits (expensive, and not the only option any more). I've reproduced the old text below.


I've use a program called Thumbs Plus Pro for several years in a limited capacity to sort, rename, preview and slide show images. After reading your suggestion I find that this program has IPTC editing. Maybe this will be an asset since I'm familiar with other elements of the program. Here's what the IPTC editor looks like. Now if I can determine which fields should contain what information. It would be sweet if those fields could be exported to reduce duplication of key-strokes when using images in other places.

Image
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Re: A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby cyclohexane » Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:31 am

Oh my....!

Thumbs Plus lives! I thought for sure it was long gone.

If I recall correctly,

Either Title/Object Name or Headline usually automatically comes up as a title in social media. I think Facebook might do both.

I think the most recent standard has Title and Object Name as the same field now.

For example, if I do a wedding for a couple named Jessica & Brandon, I'll set "Jessica & Brandon" as the Title and Headline as "YYYY/MM/DD -- Jessica & Brandon Wedding".

Those will come up in some order when uploading to Facebook.

Caption pops up automtically as a description in most social media.

Keywords should carry over from program to program... e.g. going from Thumbs Plus to Lightroom to Capture One to... I don't know why it says "leave alone" there.

You can probably use some combination of these fields for the coins. Should work well once you fool around with it a bit.

Xmit ref or "Transmission Reference" is used by the wire services for tracking the licensing of your images, but I remember a mentor advised me to save a copy of the original filename there so that when clients save your images, rename them, and then come back looking for a new version, it is easier to find it for them and saves you time... and you know what they say about time and money. We had one client that would often send back images from years back requesting new prints; all we had to do was open their image, look at the IPTC transmission reference, and we could quickly prepare the image from the archives for printing.
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Re: A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby Duck » Sat Feb 13, 2016 3:23 am

Steven, do you have Lightroom?

If so, Lightroom can edit IPTC metadata as well as a short list of EXIF metadata. The beauty with LR over Thumbs Plus is you can build presets for automatically entering certain data.

Using the IPTC metadata is a great suggestion as it can be exported and read by a large variety of programs and websites, as Michael mentioned.
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Re: A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby Steven G Webb » Sat Feb 13, 2016 3:33 am

Duck wrote:Steven, do you have Lightroom?

If so, Lightroom can edit IPTC metadata as well as a short list of EXIF metadata. The beauty with LR over Thumbs Plus is you can build presets for automatically entering certain data.

Using the IPTC metadata is a great suggestion as it can be exported and read by a large variety of programs and websites, as Michael mentioned.
cyclohexane wrote:Oh my....!

Thumbs Plus lives! I thought for sure it was long gone.

If I recall correctly,

Either Title/Object Name or Headline usually automatically comes up as a title in social media. I think Facebook might do both.

I think the most recent standard has Title and Object Name as the same field now.

For example, if I do a wedding for a couple named Jessica & Brandon, I'll set "Jessica & Brandon" as the Title and Headline as "YYYY/MM/DD -- Jessica & Brandon Wedding".

Those will come up in some order when uploading to Facebook.

Caption pops up automtically as a description in most social media.

Keywords should carry over from program to program... e.g. going from Thumbs Plus to Lightroom to Capture One to... I don't know why it says "leave alone" there.

You can probably use some combination of these fields for the coins. Should work well once you fool around with it a bit.

Xmit ref or "Transmission Reference" is used by the wire services for tracking the licensing of your images, but I remember a mentor advised me to save a copy of the original filename there so that when clients save your images, rename them, and then come back looking for a new version, it is easier to find it for them and saves you time... and you know what they say about time and money. We had one client that would often send back images from years back requesting new prints; all we had to do was open their image, look at the IPTC transmission reference, and we could quickly prepare the image from the archives for printing.


Thank you both.

Duck: No I do not have Lightroom. I do have bridge but don't know about options it may have.

Michael: I'm happy you are familiar with Thumbs Plus Pro. I'm using version 7 because the interface and display changed after this version and I don't like them. The "Leave Alone" changes when the box is ticked then changes to multiple options to append from various sources, what's typed and others. I'm going to spend some time seeing what goes where on the output end.
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Re: A question about file organization and cataloging

Postby cyclohexane » Sat Feb 13, 2016 5:21 am

ThumbsPlus is about to be 22 years old! Whoa. I remember when it showed up as "ThumbsUp!" before they had to change their name because of trademark issues.
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