Posts Tagged ‘EXIF’

Chesapeake Explorer

July 18, 2015

It is an honor to announce two of my photographs are featured in “Chesapeake Explorer,” a recently updated National Park Service Web site.

The first photo is featured on two pages: PLACES TO GO features a cropped thumbnail version of the photo; and ACCOTINK BAY WILDLIFE REFUGE features a full-size version of the photo.

Fishermen on Accotink Bay, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Fishermen on Accotink Bay

The photo was taken with a handheld Panasonic DMC-FZ150 superzoom bridge camera, using the following settings: ISO 100; 4.5mm (25mm, 35mm equivalent); 0 ev; f/3.6 plus manual focus, for maximum depth-of-field; 1/1000s.

The second photo is featured on three pages: HUNTLEY MEADOWS’ WETLANDS ATTRACT A VARIETY OF SPECIES, INCLUDING HUMANS features a thumbnail version of the photo; HUNTLEY MEADOWS PARK features a full-size version of the photo; and PHOTOGRAPHING NATURE AND WILDLIFE features a thumbnail version of the photo.

The observation tower located along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Three generations of nature appreciation

The photo was taken with a tripod-mounted Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens, using the following settings: ISO 100; 35mm; 0 ev; f/16; 1/50s.

Tech Tip: The point-of-contact at the National Park Service was able to find me as a result of the EXIF and IPTC information embedded in both photos. So what’s the take-away from this positive experience? Adding metadata to your photos is time well-spent!

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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AutoStitch Panorama app — new and improved!

October 14, 2011

With the recent release of AutoStitch Panorama Version 4.0 ($1.99), the best mobile panorama photo app just got better! Among several new features, the one that is most appealing to me is panorama photos now include geolocation data in the EXIF/IPTC info.

In order to test the new geotagging feature, I re-stitched a 21-image panorama photo of a field of Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) spotted during a photowalk through the “Wildlife Sanctuary,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA; the resulting composite images are shown in the following gallery. Photo 1 of 2 is a cropped version of the composite image; Photo 2 of 2 is the “raw” composite image. Image 3 shows the FxIF Data (see “Related Resources,” shown below) that verifies the re-stitched composite images are in fact geotagged; Photos 4 and 5 show two views of the FxIF Data Map Link.

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The following gallery shows the original composite images that were not geotagged by the older version of AutoStitch Panorama. Photo 1 of 2 is a cropped version of the composite image; Photo 2 of 2 is the “raw” composite image. Image 3 shows the FxIF Data (see “Related Resources,” shown below).

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Related Resources:

  • Panorama photo app showdown: Field of Jewelweed (one of my recent Posterous posts)
  • FxIF is an add-on for the Mozilla Firefox Web browser that allows the user to view EXIF info — including GPS info, when available — by simply right-clicking on a Web page photo and selecting “FxIF Data.” The user may set preferences for coordinates (e.g., decimal degrees) and map display (e.g., Google Maps); for details, see the section entitled, “Configure me” on the FxIF Web page.

Project Noah versus Leafsnap

June 4, 2011

Project Noah and Leafsnap: Two free apps that utilize iPhone’s built-in camera for exploring the natural world; two different solutions for field identification of fauna and flora. One app works amazingly well; the other app works, but not as well. A list of pluses and minuses for both apps follows, along with a summary of the results of my field testing and a recommendation for educators.

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Project Noah

(+) Visually appealing user interface (UI) – In a word, yes. [Image 2 of 12]
(+) Built-in camera – My Noah/New Spotting/”Take new photo” (plus access to iPhone “Camera Roll”) [Images 3 and 4 of 12]
(-) Built-in field guide – The Project Noah Field Guide is not a field guide in the traditional sense of the word, rather it is more like a crowdsourced field guide. Photos and related narrative text are submitted by Project Noah “citizen scientists”: Nomenclature and content quality varies widely throughout the field guide; some groups of animals and plants are either underrepresented or not represented. [Image 5 of 12]
(-) Feedback – “Help me ID this species.” I tapped “YES”; no feedback (since 23 May 2011). [Image 6 of 12] [Editor’s Note: Images 7, 8, and 9 of 12]
(+/-) Geo-referenced data – Optional map view available (see example); photos saved to “Camera Roll” are not geotagged (see example). [Images 10 and 11 of 12]
(+/-) Option to participate in actual scientific research projects – “My Missions.” Your field observations may never be used by real scientists unless you opt to participate in one or more missions. [Image 2 of 13]
(+) Performance incentives – “My Patches,” like virtual scouting merit badges [Image 12 of 12]
(-/+) Built-in documentation and Web support – No built-in help; better Web pages than Leafsnap.
http://www.projectnoah.org/
(-) Universal app/iPad version – Not available

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Leafsnap

(+/-) Visually appealing user interface – Yes. Leafsnap UI somewhat less appealing than Project Noah. [Image 2 of 12]
(+) Built-in camera – “Snap It!” (plus access to iPhone “Camera Roll”) [Image 3 of 12]
(+) Built-in field guide – Database currently features 2,620 high-resolution images of 185 tree and plant species. [Image 4 of 12]
(+) Feedback – Immediate and very reliable. Leafsnap correctly identified 8/9 trees that I tested; the second result was the correct ID for the 9th tree (a fact verified easily by comparison with field guide database). [Image 5 of 12]
(+) Option to participate in actual scientific research projects – By design, all field observations are used to build scientific database.
(+/-) Geo-referenced data – Optional map view available (see example); photos saved to “Camera Roll” are not geotagged (see example). [Images 6 and 7 of 12]
(+) Performance incentives – “Geodialist’s Collection” (“Geodialist” is my Leafsnap username) [Image 8 of 12]
(+/-) Built-in documentation and Web support – Tap “i” on any page for more information; poor Web support. [Images 9, 10, and 11 of 12]
http://leafsnap.com/
(+) Universal app/iPad version – iPad version available (“Snap It!” doesn’t work with iPad 1.) [Image 12 of 12]

Summary

Overall, Project Noah has twice as many minuses as Leafsnap, and there are more pluses than minuses for Leafsnap. Most importantly, Leafsnap provides timely, reliable feedback while Project Noah fails to deliver this key success factor consistently.

As a former science teacher, I am conflicted by the thought of using Project Noah with students. I’m a big advocate of hands-on learning (a.k.a., learning by doing) and technology-enriched instruction. But I prefer “guided discovery” over random experimentation, that is, carefully crafted hands-on activities designed to lead students to scientifically accurate conclusions. At best — that is, with guidance from a good teacher — working with Project Noah could be a great experience for students; at worst, it could be an exercise in frustration (see Editor’s Note, shown below). Bottom line: Leafsnap is the only app I recommend for use with students. In my opinion, Project Noah is more appropriate for adults than children.

See the related blog post, Field test: Leafsnap app.

Editor’s Note: In the interest of fairly evaluating Project Noah, I re-tested the app by adding a “New Spotting” to “My Noah.” I tapped “YES” in response to the prompt, “Help me ID this species.” This time, I received two “Comments” later the same day, as indicated by the red badge on the “My Noah” page. I tapped “My Spottings”: On the “My Spottings” page, I tapped the right arrow on the first “Needs ID” spotting (that displays an icon indicating two comments); on the “Comments” page, two Project Noah participants correctly identified the plant as a Hydrangea macrophylla (Lacecap). Sounds good — that’s the way it’s supposed to work, right? A couple of questions arise: 1) What are the qualifications of the commenters? (With no disrespect intended, aren’t you naturally a little skeptical of someone who goes by the moniker, “Monkey-mind?”) There is no way to either access a commenter’s bio, or communicate directly with a commenter via Project Noah unless the commenter enabled these options in their settings. 2) What if the commenters had misidentified the plant? Not so good, and arguably worse than no feedback. (Remember the teachers’ old saw that says students must work harder/longer to unlearn misconceptions and misinformation? It’s true!) Project Noah’s highest priority should be to devise a procedure that provides timely, reliable feedback EVERY TIME a participant requests help; until this objective is achieved, I remain very reluctant to recommend its use by educators.

My Top 30 iPhone Photos — A One-Year Retrospective

May 26, 2011

I bought a used Apple iPhone 3G a little more than a year ago; I upgraded to a used iPhone 3GS a few months later. iPhoneography rekindled my interest in photography. I have taken more than 1,500 photos using my iPhones during the past year — that’s more photos than I’ve taken in years! Inspired by a recent Tweet from professional photographer Rick Sammon

Selecting your best photos can be challenging — as well as quite rewarding.

… I started a project to select my best iPhone photos from the past year. Along the way I learned about some of the advanced features of Aperture, a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos. Embedded in the EXIF/IPTC info of every photo is a title, caption, one or more keywords, copyright notice, and a geotag.

Conventional wisdom says I should rank the photos and lead with my best shot; I chose to present the photos in chronological order instead. In this order, the gallery reflects the passing of time as well as the persistence of my interests. Here they are — 25 of my favorite photos, and five of my favorite panorama photos. All photos were taken using the iPhone’s built in camera; photo 16 of 25 was post-processed using Diptic app.

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Panorama photos 1 through 3 (shown below) were created using AutoStitch Panorama app; panorama photos 4 and 5 were created using Photosynth app (panorama photo 4 was adjusted and cropped using Aperture).

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Tech Tips: You may be wondering, “Why did you buy used iPhones?” If you have a used smartphone, then you do not have to commit to a long-term contract with a wireless phone service provider. That’s a gold nugget of wisdom I’m happy to share! “FxIF” is an add-on for the Mozilla Firefox Web browser that allows the user to view EXIF info — including GPS info, when available — by simply right-clicking on a Web page photo and selecting “EXIF Data.”

Photo file format face-off: JPEG versus PNG

May 19, 2011

iPhone cameras save photos as JPEGs (JPGs), a “lossy” compression format; shooting uncompressed RAW images is not an option. If you edit a JPEG photo, then the resulting image file will be further compressed when you export the file from your photo editor of choice. Question is, if you edit a JPEG image (using say, Aperture 3 by Apple Inc.) then how can you export the image without further compression?

One solution to this problem is to use a “lossless” compression format such as PNG. But there’s a problem with PNGs: PNG doesn’t support EXIF/IPTC; if you export a JPEG file as a PNG, then the EXIF/IPTC info is lost (e.g., geolocation info). That’s an unacceptably BIG trade-off for me, especially since I’m not sure the difference in image quality between JPEGs and PNGs is noticeable. So I set up a face-to-face comparison test.

There are four pairs of photos in the following gallery: A cropped version of a JPEG photo, exported as a JPEG file; followed by the same cropped JPEG photo exported as a PNG file. You tell me — are the PNG versions noticeably better than the JPEG versions? Comments are invited and welcome.

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Field test: Leafsnap app

May 16, 2011

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Leafsnap app (free) is “an electronic field guide for tree and plant species.” See the video, “Introducing Leafsnap” for more information. Leafsnap is available in the Apple iTunes App Store.

I field tested Leafsnap recently. I selected several trees located on the grounds of Mount Vernon Unitarian Church in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. One the trees in the test group is an old Black Locust tree. The gallery (shown above) features a photograph of a Black Locust tree leaf taken using Leafsnap’s “Snap It!” feature (No. 1), a series of screen captures from Leafsnap (No. 2 – 4), and a couple of photos of the tree taken using iPhone’s built-in Camera app (No. 5 – 6). The screen captures illustrate the process used by Leafsnap to identify the Black Locust tree based upon the outline of one of its leaves. Notice the Five-lined Skink lizard in photo No. 6.

When Leafsnap’s “Snap It!” feature is able to connect to remote servers via either 3G or Wi-Fi, the automatic identification process works very well; when Leafsnap is unable to establish a connection, you’re dead in the water and going nowhere. Hopefully the problem establishing a server connection has been resolved in the latest version of Leafsnap. Overall, Leafsnap is a “must-have” app for educators, gardeners, and natural science enthusiasts.

Tech Tips: For trees with compound leaves (such as Black Locust), be careful to shoot the entire leaf. Leaves should be photographed in situ for accurate geolocation. Photos saved to the Camera Roll from Leafsnap’s built-in camera (“Snap It!”) are not geotagged. For this reason, you may want to take one or more photos using iPhone’s Camera app. (See the location of the Black Walnut tree, derived from the EXIF/IPTC info for photo No. 5.)

Better Geotagging, revisited

May 2, 2011

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In a recent blog post, I shared a simple tech tip for better geotags in iPhone photographs: Launch the Maps app and verify your location BEFORE taking pictures with the Camera app. I should follow my advice! Huh? Look at the Flickr Map (shown above) of my photo gallery, “April showers bring May flowers.” All of the photos in the gallery should be located on three streets in Hollin Hills (listed in chronological order along my photowalk): Elba Road; Nordok Place; and Mason Hill Drive. As you can see by looking at the map, there are several outliers that are not located (geotagged) correctly. Question is, what caused the photos to be geotagged incorrectly?

Apple iPhone is the best all-in-one device for geotagging photographs, as I explained in “The ABCs of A-GPS.” iPhone “Location Services,” as good as it is, can be surprisingly inaccurate after an iPhone has been either in sleep mode or powered-off. It was raining lightly during most of my photowalk through Hollin Hills on Sunday: When I stopped to take photos, I was in a rush to prevent water damage to my iPhone and did not use the Maps app to verify my location before shooting pictures; my iPhone was in sleep mode between stops along the photowalk. Net results: My iPhone wasn’t damaged (that’s good news); several photos were geotagged incorrectly (that’s bad news). Perhaps I could have avoided the problem by running a GPS-tracking app in the background, such as MotionX GPS. Point is, you can’t assume an iPhone will correctly geolocate every photograph you take with its built-in camera, but you can get better results by using the Maps app to get an accurate position fix before taking photos.

Finally, a quick word about the Flickr photo sharing service. Is it just me, or is the Flickr user interface often less than intuitive? I was sure I set up my Flickr account to enable sharing photo location information. Turns out I was wrong. I discovered the solution after troubleshooting the problem. Sign in to Flickr. Click on the hyperlink labeled, “Your account.” See the section entitled, “Defaults for new uploads”; for the setting, “Import EXIF location data,” select “Yes.”

Field test: 360 Panorama app

April 4, 2011

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I used 360 Panorama app to shoot the preceding geotagged panorama photo of Milway Meadows, a residential community in Fairfax County, Virginia. The same panorama photo was uploaded via Posterous app (shown below); most of the EXIF/IPTC info, including GPS Info, is missing due to a bug in Posterous app for iOS. An online interactive version of the photo simulates virtual reality, enabling you to see what I saw! Can you see where the panorama came full circle? Let’s hope the developers at Occipital are able to figure out a clever solution for this glaring problem.

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Contrast the 360 Panorama app photo with the same scene shot using AutoStitch Panorama app.


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