Thursday 9 January 2014

Photo Management on Lubuntu

I was recently asked for advice on photo management software, so I read a few reviews, then set about installing gThumb.

Up till now I've avoided this kind of application, because very early photo management programs just used to save data in a configuration file or database, which was only readable by the parent application.

Organising a photo collection is very time consuming, so I want to be sure this time is not going to be wasted.

What I'm really interested in is data that is added to the photo file itself. If files can be sorted using Tags and other file metadata added to each photo file, then this data can be re-used as files are moved between storage devices and other computers. The only challenge then is to backup the latest (metadata modified) files.

Currently my photo files are sorted into a simple directory structure similar to this example:-

{top level}    Pictures
{2nd level}    Name
{3rd level}    Year
{4th (opt)}    Event

So for pictures of me, the structure is like this:-


But if there are 3 people in a photo, it doesn't work quite so well. What I really need is the ability to tag each person.


gThumb is an image viewer and browser for the GNOME Desktop.

Apart from viewing pictures and worrying about whether the f-stop used was the right choice, we can also use this application to write metadata tags and comments, and arrange photos into groups (e.g. catalogues).


I needed to check where data entered into gThumb is being saved. So I selected a photo and checked the "Last Modified" date using file manager.

Then I used gThumb to give this photo a unique Tag (e.g. "zlaaap"). In file manager I again checked the file Last Modified date. It had not changed!

I next copied the file to a second computer and inspected the photo files metadata by opening this file in GIMP using menu File > Properties > Advanced: IPTC Core

This confirmed that the "zlaaap" tag has been added to the photo file...Yipee!

What is IPTC Core?

The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) maintains a set of standards, a couple of these relate to photographic metadata.

There are 2 IPTC Photo Metadata Standards: IPTC Core and IPTC Extension.
The IPTC Core standard seems to have been widely accepted, so that's good enough for me.

Find out more about IPTC

Other Data

Within the "Comments" dialog in gThumb it is also possible to set Description, Title & Place from the General tab.

The photo Title is also stored in the file, but this is not read as IPTC or EXIF data. Something called "Dublin Core" (yet another standard) returns the photo title using applications like GIMP.

The photo Description is stored in the photo file as Dublin Core "description" or "Caption", and EXIF "UserComment".

The photo Place is stored as IPTC "Location"

Some of the other sorting features in gThumb are stored as application data (e.g. Catalogues & Libraries). So these settings will be lost if you move your photo collection to another computer.

Install To Lubuntu

You can use Synaptic to install gThumb or just use the terminal by typing:-

sudo apt-get install gthumb

I'm running Lubuntu 13.10 so I end up with gThumb v3.0.2

Also required is a desktop search engine, so I've installed Tracker.
Once again use Synaptic, or the terminal like this:-

sudo apt-get install tracker

Once installed, the tracker daemons need to auto-start each time we enter the desktop:-
go to Preferences > Desktop Session Settings
Enable: Tracker Store & Tracker File System Miner

Now re-boot the system and then run gThumb.


Although it is too soon to say how useful this application is, there are a number of reasons why I'm happy to recommend it.

gThumb does not automatically move files within your file system (although you can use it to copy, move, rename or remove files if you chose to do so) so it won't mess up your file system or do any harm.

Metadata can be edited by gThumb for subsequent use by other applications.

Viewing, searching and linking photos to catalogues is very easy, so even though catalogue information may be lost if you move to another system, this is not a real problem.

Images can be viewed from thumbnails to full screen size. When a thumbnail is selected, the application can also show you its histograms or properties (e.g. camera settings such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO & so on).

Simple editing can be carried out directly in gThumb, or you can launch GIMP by simply pressing "g" when an image has focus.

No comments:

Post a Comment