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Managing Images from Digital Cameras

Digital cameras have become very popular in recent years and prices are falling. The images are generally of good quality - the blemishes caused by photo-chemistry are avoided- and the marginal cost per captured image is low - except perhaps where high quality printed images are needed. Most of the photos I have are slides taken with a 35mm SLR - mostly 35mm Kodachrome slides. Some images were printed and kept in albums, but most are kept as projectable images. More recently I use digital cameras more often, most of the digital images (JPG files) being displayed on a computer screen.

In the last 2 years, I have digitised all the 35mm slides and they are now stored on CD Roms. This was a laborious task taking several months and initially presented a number of problems. These were mainly:-

The next section discusses an image file naming scheme and renumbering the files.

After many trials I decided to adopt the following format For file names:-

nnn-SometitleNotContainingHyphens-Date.JPG

where "nnn" is a 3-digit ID, "SometitleNotContainingHyphens" is a narrative title without hyphens or spaces and "Date" is the date of the photo in ddmmmyyyy format. (The months are spelt: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.)

This scheme has several good features: the 3 parts of the name, ID, Title and Date, delimited by the 2 hyphens can be recognised (parsed) by computer programs. The ID field can be identified and updated by a re-numbering program. Furthermore and most usefully, directory lists of the JPG files can be input to a database which can create the contents of the ID, Title and Date database fields in a table automatically - without having to type them in from the keyboard.

Entering filenames

The job of initially entering the name for each image can be a real chore. The image files from the camera's memory simply consist of a few letters followed by a sequence number (e.g. "DSC00768.JPG"). This needs to be changed to reflect the image's content - and I recommend adopting the naming format described above. The speediest method of typing in the revised names that I've found so far is to make use of the Thumbnails feature of Irfanview. Select Thumbnails from Irfan's File menu and then select the directory containing the downloaded image files. Select Options, chose "sort ascending" and a suitable thumbnail size - I usually go for the largest which shows 2 columns of thumbnail images. When the images have appeared, click on the first to highlight it and then hit F2 to bring up a dialog box showing the file's name (something like DSC0091.JPG). Amend the name as desired and then left-click and drag the mouse over the new name to highlight it and hit Ctrl-C. This enters the name into the clipboard - which can save typing when entering the other names. Thus, when moving to the next image, bring up the dialog box as before, but this time, whilst the camera-given-file's name is highlighted, hit Ctrl-V which pastes the previous files name in place. Often, the appropriate name for the file and the date are similar to what has been pasted and little ammendment will be needed. Make sure that each filename does contain a sequence number. With practice and judicious use of dragging the mouse and using Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V to highlight, copy and paste, this is a fast method for getting the files named meaningfully.

Links to other digital image pages : Re-Numbering Slideshows