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  1. #1
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophy
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    Creating a file structure for digital images on a windows PC.

    I am trying to find a way to catalogue my digital photos and have come up with an idea below but first some of my thoughts.

    Most digital photo cataloging software uses a database and if the image is backed up to a CD/DVD, moved or name changed it is of no help.
    EXIF data can be edited and will stay with the image but you can not search for it.

    My method is create a folder e.g. Photos, have folders within that folder e.g. Holiday 2007, Holiday 2008 and then the images within those folders named like “Katie beach Italy 2007 sand castle.jpg” I could then use the normal windows search to search for Katie or beach or Italy etc.

    As I see it:
    Windows filenames NTFS format:
    In the Windows API the maximum length for a path is MAX_PATH, which is defined as 260 characters. There are methods to increase this but I will stick with this as its a standard setting.

    CD burning filenames including the path:
    107 characters for joliet
    214 characters for ISO 9660
    255 characters for UDF

    It is confusing as windows includes support for FAT filenames which are 8.3 ( e.g. 12345678.jpg ) and I am not sure if this comes into the eqation!
    I also assume the length of the filename for cd writing will be the path and length of the image on the disc and not the original on the PC.

    So if I kept the path to my image to less than 107 characters from the Photos folder my method should work.

    Does anyone have any comments?

  2. #2
    Theoretical Physics Student bronze trophy Jake Arkinstall's Avatar
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    The problem with the FileSystem is that one file is one file, and can only have one filename and folder - i.e. it's a 1:n relationship rather than the preferable n:n.

    But we aren't restricted to filenames and directories any more.

    My current method is that I move all my photos into a directory named after the date I put them onto the computer, but a better method would to be have a yyyy/mm/dd/image.jpeg structure, which I'm contemplating at the moment.

    The images are named with a simple description like 'sandcastle'.

    Then use an external image application (in my case 'Windows Live Photo Gallery') and tag the photos with relevent tags.

    One photo can have many tags and one tag can be shared with many photos - which is in effect an n:n relationship between categories and files.

    I have my photos stored on an external drive (500gb - and I was so snap-happy I filled it within a couple of weeks, but I deleted all the rubbish and now have about 30gb), and there are no problems searching them.

    You can then search 'sand' and get everything related to sand.
    Jake Arkinstall
    "Sometimes you don't need to reinvent the wheel;
    Sometimes its enough to make that wheel more rounded"-Molona

  3. #3
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophy
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    So you are considering using a similar method to what I am thinking of using.

    The problem with tags is that it all works OK until you move them to say a backup CD when the tags no longer work ? What if you decide to use a different tagging system. Either way you are then back to trying to find the photo by filename.

    I was worried about the filename lengths; what do you think the problems may be with a long filename?

    You must have been taking a lot of photos to fill a 500GB hard drive; even my daughter does not take that many and she takes a lot !

  4. #4
    ¬.¬ shoooo... silver trophy logic_earth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubble View Post
    The problem with tags is that it all works OK until you move them to say a backup CD when the tags no longer work ? What if you decide to use a different tagging system. Either way you are then back to trying to find the photo by filename.
    If the Tags were set correctly using EXIF metadata that information will travel with those images. Also what version of Windows are you using? I'm assuming Windows XP...
    Logic without the fatal effects.
    All code snippets are licensed under WTFPL.


  5. #5
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophy
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    Yes I am using windows XP.

    I had assumed the tags were linked to the image in a database; is some of it done via the EXIF data ?

    I may have to download some software and try it.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy conradical's Avatar
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    I use year / Month and then images. I don't use day because I do not have that many photos in a month. If I did about 20 pics a day and it was important to locate them by day then I would.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophy
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    I have just checked out 'Windows Live Photo Gallery' and it is updating the EXIF data and searching it; also its a nice looking program.
    The last time I looked into this it was all done via a database.

    Oh well this is my free time taken up for the next 6 months - tagging all my photos and sorting them into a better order.

    Thanks for the pointers.

  8. #8
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    I have been happy with the adobe photoshop elements organizer. (Actually most of my experience comes with Adobe Album 2 which was the program that eventually became the Organizer starting with photoshop elements 3. Still getting used to the changes in my recently installed v5)

    This program has tags and categories and version sets. It allows you to write the tags as keywords to the exif files. You can move your images offline to cd/dvd and still have a thumbnail reference on your harddrive. It will call for the dvd (by the name you called it at the time of burn) if you want to access the photo to print, etc. You can also import photos to the database while leaving them on their original cd/dvd.

    It does best if you do all your renaming and moving from within the program. It will do an auto reconnect if there haven't been too many changes done outside of the program. You need to get in the habit of doing frequent reconnects if you do outside changes. Too many changes between reconnects and you will have to do it manually.

    I like the Organizer but it drives other people nuts. The basic concepts of how it was designed to work can be found on www.photofanatic.com. That was written for v3 though and the program just recently came out with version 7 so there are quite a few changes and additions.

    It recently switched (v6) from an access type database to one based on SQLite. Although Adobe doesn't encourage people to access the database to manipulate quite a few people do. The Adobe user to user forum for this program is very friendly and helpful.

  9. #9
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    I just use Windows Photo Gallery which doesn't have its own database structure. Just stores the images on the drive in their native formats. I just store my photos in the My Pictures directory and have directory names like "2007 Disneyland", "2006 Christmas", "2006-06-23 Karate Tournament", etc...

    Haven't had any problems burning CDs with these photos.
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  10. #10
    SitePoint Enthusiast Will_DR's Avatar
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    Basically, I organise using folders for a particular shoot e.g.

    2008-11-08 Day at the park

    Then within that folder, I'll dump all of my RAW files and use Lightroom to catalogue them.

  11. #11
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    I put all my original (non-edited) photos in dated folders based on the date I "uploaded" them to my computer.

    I still do not have dated image files, however this is something that I am strongly considering. If you happen to be a programmer like I am, having dated folders AND files would make for easier sorting from a software standpoint.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast Will_DR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by awright418 View Post
    I still do not have dated image files, however this is something that I am strongly considering. If you happen to be a programmer like I am, having dated folders AND files would make for easier sorting from a software standpoint.
    Are you referring to the file's timestamp or EXIF timestamp?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will_DR View Post
    Are you referring to the file's timestamp or EXIF timestamp?
    I think his means is the file's timestamp

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will_DR View Post
    Are you referring to the file's timestamp or EXIF timestamp?
    No, I was referring to the actual file name containing a date such as 20081110.jpg. Or even better it could be a timestamp like 1226378274.jpg. Both of these type of filenames could be easily sorted by date even if the file did not contain EXIF data.

    I have never really played with sorting files using EXIF dates but I'm sure that would be possible.

    Edit: Now that I'm thinking about it more... It seems like this would not be possible since some cameras are capable of shooting multiple photos per second and timestamps are recorded in seconds.

  15. #15
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    tagging is the best way to go as the tag is stored with the image and not on a db. The only annoying thing is that Flickr does not seem to recognise tags embedded in the EXIF. SmugMug does though. Only problem is that I have ended up with dozens and dozens of tags.

    ATM I use PSE 5 for batch editing image tags and PhotoMe for displaying the enormous amount of detailed EXIF data that most cameras produce.

    Oh and then there is geotagging!

    For what it is worth I attempt to tag all my photos and have a file structure like 2008/Christmas/home etc. So all my photos taken in 2008 get placed in many subfolders under the main 2008 folder. This way a non techie can find the photos using the simple folder structure.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Enthusiast Will_DR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Sky View Post
    The only annoying thing is that Flickr does not seem to recognise tags embedded in the EXIF.
    I can't check this right now, but doesn't the flickr uploadr desktop application recognise embedded EXIF tags?

  17. #17
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    Personal photos method is currently:

    Initial broad categories for top level directories:

    - Us
    - Friends
    - Family
    - Pets
    - Other

    Then within those I put directories with 'YYMM - Event Name' format

    All images are left with original filenames from camera

    Tagging and GeoLocation is done into individual image's EXIF with free MS Pro Photo Tools (microsoft.com/prophoto/downloads/ access via IE)

    Uploading to Flickr is then done with FlickrSync (flickrsync.freehostia.com) which will extract custom tags and turn them into Flickr tags as part of the upload (as well as Town and Country fields if GeoTagged)

    I find this method gives me easy to understand folder navigation via Xbox 360 or other day to day access, good tagging future proofing, and a reasonably streamlined route up to Flickr for sharing and as remote backup location.

    Hoping in due course that someone will finally get local PC based face recognition/tagging software out there as that's the bit that takes the longest for me at the moment.

    Have seen Picassa has the feature online, but not locally, and Tag4You is supposed to do it online for Flickr...but I don't currently know of a good way to then update my local offline tags as FlickrSync is only 1 way.

    Hope that helps.

  18. #18
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    We use a fairly simple method.... Rename the files sequentially but the first two characters are the year.. then just keep a log..

    Image number range, Client or subject, Type

    08000001.jpg - 08000100.jpg ABCXYZ Co. Product photos
    08000101.jpg - 08000109.jpg DEFKEJ Co. Headshots

    and so on...

  19. #19
    SitePoint Wizard Blake Tallos's Avatar
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    make one big huge file upload it to your server thats it.
    Blake Tallos - Software Engineer for Sanctuary
    Software Studio, Inc. C# - Fanatic!
    http://www.sancsoft.com/


  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard Blake Tallos's Avatar
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    Ohhh and Everyone. My step dad went to a office max nearby recently and he said there making cds to put into your dvdrw and as soon as you put your cds in all of your files get automatically saved to the cd without having to burn anything.Made by maxwell or something not sure. Pretty intresting though.
    Blake Tallos - Software Engineer for Sanctuary
    Software Studio, Inc. C# - Fanatic!
    http://www.sancsoft.com/


  21. #21
    Now available in Orange Tijmen's Avatar
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    I just have directory's named year / month / event, and that works fine for me
    Travel Photos on Flickr - Twitter

    “Never give up. Never surrender”

  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard Blake Tallos's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Tijmen View Post
    I just have directory's named year / month / event, and that works fine for me
    Now thats good thinking..
    Blake Tallos - Software Engineer for Sanctuary
    Software Studio, Inc. C# - Fanatic!
    http://www.sancsoft.com/


  23. #23
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    hello
    thanks you for your post, you help is appreciated
    http://www.4eto.co.uk – ETO Manufacturing Software

  24. #24
    SitePoint Guru cyjetsu's Avatar
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    I often find trouble deciding wether to organise files by either date, content-1, content-2, or other feature.

    I am sure there are some kind of data organisation programs that let you enter fields for different files and then show different files organised in different ways dependant on your customization. I have not had time to look at this yet though.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Member
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    I'm using iphoto so mac,
    it's a great program, you can manage your photos for your needs, very easy and quick...


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