Image file naming strategy.

D
Posted By
drjchamberlain
Nov 1, 2005
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245
Replies
5
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Closed
Hello, all:

I have yet one more question for the group and it refers to the naming protocol each of you use for naming your digital image files.

My Canon camera assigns a different name to each image file when set to continuous numbering system to avoid two images having the same file name. The name format is made of 8 total characters of which the first 4 are alphanumeric characters that are camera specific assigned at the factory and that can not be changed. The other 4 characters are numbers beginning with 0001 and ending with 9999. Since the first 4 alphanumeric characters don’t change, once the file number reaches 9999 and rolls over to 0001 again the camera is producing a second image file with a name that has already been assigned.

This is an example of how the camera does it: 5F9Z0001.jpg

This is nothing but a minor annoyance and something that could have been slightly better planned. The new EOS1D Mk II N comes with a function built in that allows the user to change the initial 4 characters so that this doesn’t happen.

I am mostly interested, however, in getting your ideas and personal experiences on what type of naming protocol each of you has decided to adopt for your images.

Bruce Fraser in his "Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2" text mentions that Photographer Seth Resnick uses a naming protocol for his image files that he finds quite interesting.

According to Bruce, Seth uses something like the following naming sequence:

20050423STKSR3_0001.tif

Where:

20050423 defines the date when the image was shot (April 23, 2005) STK indicates the photo was shot for stock
SR indicates it was shot by Seth Resnick
3 indicates it was shot for the third assignment or collection of images of the day
0001 indicates the number of the image (the first image shot)

I found this to be very creative and interesting since the date starting with the year would allow the files to be organized in sequence according to date.

Do any of you have a naming strategy you would like to share ? I am curious to know if anyone has a special naming protocol for their images that makes the process of archiving and search them a little easier.

Another question refers to how you manage your library. Do you choose to place all photos in one single large library and then search images by either date or according to some kind of keyword criteria or do you keep a hierarchical structure with a folder for the library and subfolders that refer each to a specific day or project ?

Again, any suggestions and opinions will be appreciated.

Best regards,

Joseph



Dr. Joseph Chamberlain
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
TN
Tom Nelson
Nov 2, 2005
Hi Joseph,

I choose not to rename my images (aside from clipping the initial "DSCF"). Instead, I put the numbered files in a folder with a meaningful name

Assignments have an assignment number made of the last two digits of the year, the 3- or 4-letter customer code and a sequential 4-digit number. Thus 05-XYZ-1509 was shot for XYZ Corporation in 2005 and was the 1509th assignment since I started computerized record-keeping. It’s easy to find the the range of numbers for a year or to count the assignments, and it’s easy to break out XYZ’s work from the rest. A separate Jobs database tracks all information about the job.

Personal, pro bono or other work which does not generate an assignment number are a little more free-form. Folders usually are named with the date in YYMMDD format and have some sort of descriptor such as Backgrounds050508. Important images will be given a descriptive name which usually does NOT include the date (the date is on the folder it’s in) but has the last 4 digits of the original capture. For instance, "clouds3892.jpg" is a panorama of images 3891-3893. If I want to go back and re-edit the original, there’s no doubt which one(s) to grab.

As I archive images to CD or DVD, each is given a unique archive number and entered in a database. The database is where the real job of searching takes place. There’s a comment field with the names of all the image folders and whatever description and keywords I want to add. A comment field might look like this:

Archive #442:
05-HBRK-1542
05-KJEL-1491:
originals & finals
Backgrounds050508 (panoramas of spring trees, paths, Lake of the Isles): Spring Hillside
Stony Plain
CVT 050626 (tree planting at Center for Victims of Torture 6/26/05): JPG
originals
TIF
web
Kaylee Baptism 8/14/05:
4×6
originals
BRS Parachute shoot with John Gilmore:
clouds3892-w.jpg
clouds3892.jpg
clouds3892.tif
clouds3914.tif
originals & finals
Sunrise (pinkish clouds)

This does a good job of handling the jumbled nature of archives. Assignments need no description since I have that in my Jobs database. The baptism pictures are actually in a folder named KayleeBaptism050814 but I changed it in the database for readablity. On the BRS job (a freebie for a friend), I shot some clouds which got named and then left in the same folder. The Sunrise folder is three quick frames out the studio window. The date in the database is the date I burned the DVD, since the contents were shot at different times.

Sustained shooting (a vacation, for instance) requires a folder for the shoot containing separate folders for each day and a notation in the database of what I shot:

England Lake District 6/04 original captures:
040610:
6963.JPG through 6995.JPG (incl. oak tree, cow, sheep)
040611:
(all captures incl. Bowness, Brantfell, Post Knott, Queen Adelaide¹s Hill)
B&Bfoyer.jpg
JanPostKnott.tif
JanPostKnott2.tif
040612 Lk. Windermere, Bowness-on-Windermere:
(all captures incl. swan, pedestrians)
040613 Ferry, Claife Heights, Far Sawrey, Hawkshead Village: (all captures incl. swan, ducks, geese, water texture, goats) 040615 London:
7438.JPG through 7505.RAF (Big Ben, London Eye, Nat¹l History Museum)

The actual folders have a lot of named images (to help me remember where they were shot) but I don’t need to include their names, only the keywords I might need to find them. I use indentation to make the folder organization more clear (and your newsreader has probably stripped it out). I try to fill each CD or DVD, and that sometimes means including only part of a folder. In the above example I have given a range of image numbers for a couple of partial folders. The rest say "all captures."

Key points:
1. Don’t bother to rename images, name folders instead
2. Don’t worry if the camera’s numbering system repeats. Duplicate image numbers will be in differently-named folders.
3. Make the file number of the original capture part of the name of the edited image.
4. You will never find your images without a searchable database. Put in the level of keywords or other detail you think you’ll need.

Tom Nelson
Tom Nelson Photography
G
GordonG
Nov 2, 2005
Joseph Chamberlain, DDS wrote:
Hello, all:

I have yet one more question for the group and it refers to the naming protocol each of you use for naming your digital image files.
My Canon camera assigns a different name to each image file when set to continuous numbering system to avoid two images having the same file name. The name format is made of 8 total characters of which the first 4 are alphanumeric characters that are camera specific assigned at the factory and that can not be changed. The other 4 characters are numbers beginning with 0001 and ending with 9999. Since the first 4 alphanumeric characters don’t change, once the file number reaches 9999 and rolls over to 0001 again the camera is producing a second image file with a name that has already been assigned.

This is an example of how the camera does it: 5F9Z0001.jpg
This is nothing but a minor annoyance and something that could have been slightly better planned. The new EOS1D Mk II N comes with a function built in that allows the user to change the initial 4 characters so that this doesn’t happen.

I am mostly interested, however, in getting your ideas and personal experiences on what type of naming protocol each of you has decided to adopt for your images.

Bruce Fraser in his "Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2" text mentions that Photographer Seth Resnick uses a naming protocol for his image files that he finds quite interesting.

According to Bruce, Seth uses something like the following naming sequence:
20050423STKSR3_0001.tif

Where:

20050423 defines the date when the image was shot (April 23, 2005) STK indicates the photo was shot for stock
SR indicates it was shot by Seth Resnick
3 indicates it was shot for the third assignment or collection of images of the day
0001 indicates the number of the image (the first image shot)
I found this to be very creative and interesting since the date starting with the year would allow the files to be organized in sequence according to date.

Do any of you have a naming strategy you would like to share ? I am curious to know if anyone has a special naming protocol for their images that makes the process of archiving and search them a little easier.
Another question refers to how you manage your library. Do you choose to place all photos in one single large library and then search images by either date or according to some kind of keyword criteria or do you keep a hierarchical structure with a folder for the library and subfolders that refer each to a specific day or project ?

Again, any suggestions and opinions will be appreciated.
Best regards,

Joseph



Dr. Joseph Chamberlain
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Get Breeze Systems Power Downloader Pro. It will create new folders with whatever name you specify, then rename the files in any way you want as it downloads from the card. Then it can be set to wipe the card and ‘eject’ it from the USB system.

Wouldn’t be without it…
RW
Roger Whitehead
Nov 2, 2005
In article <BF8C7B6B.2BBCB%>, DDS Joseph
Chamberlain wrote:
the naming
protocol each of you use for naming your digital image files.

The software that came with my (also Canon) camera obligingly gives each image a unique number and files each day’s batch in its own folder. I never change these but instead work on (and rename) a copy of the relevant file.

The new name is normally descriptive ("Aunt Maude", say). I number different versions of it with a numerical suffix for the children (Aunt Maude1, Aunt Maude2, etc.), followed by an alpha suffix for the grandchildren (Aunt Maude2a, Aunt Maude2b and so on). If there are enough to warrant it, I create a new sub-directory for these pictures or place them in an existing one (e.g. "Family").

It works for me but possibly not for people who take a lots of pictures and/or want to (semi-)automate the process.



Roger
N
noone
Nov 2, 2005
In article <BF8C7B6B.2BBCB%>,
says…
Hello, all:

I have yet one more question for the group and it refers to the naming protocol each of you use for naming your digital image files.
[SNIP]
Do any of you have a naming strategy you would like to share ? I am curious to know if anyone has a special naming protocol for their images that makes the process of archiving and search them a little easier.
Another question refers to how you manage your library. Do you choose to place all photos in one single large library and then search images by either date or according to some kind of keyword criteria or do you keep a hierarchical structure with a folder for the library and subfolders that refer each to a specific day or project ?

Again, any suggestions and opinions will be appreciated.
Best regards,

Joseph



Dr. Joseph Chamberlain
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

I have a set of folders for each subject, and the date of shooting. I’ll rename all of the files to the subject, and place into the folder, which has the date included, i.e. London_2005_10. Within that folder, I’ll create sub- folders by subject. The file name might look like this: Red telephone booths 0001.NEF. All NEF’s, BTW, go into their own sub-folder, and the processed images into the "Original PSD" folder, with resultant TIFFs in another folder, and JPGs into yet another. So far, this has worked well, but I’m only organizing about 5,000 main subjects / year. I do end up with a lot of files in folders below the main subject, but feel that I can always go back to, say the NEFs, or the PSDs and start over again, if need be.

Not as precise as Resnick’s, but then I don’t have to remember my codes, only drill down into the folder hierarchy.

Hunt
D
drjchamberlain
Nov 4, 2005
I wanted to thank all who responded my original post.

Your suggestions and information have been very helpful and will certainly allow me to develop a better naming scheme for my workflow. The red flags you have raised will also help avoid some pitfalls that could cause future problems.

Thank you all again for taking the time to reply.

Best regards,

Joseph



Dr. Joseph Chamberlain
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

———————————————————— —————-

On 11/2/05 7:28 AM, in article , "Hunt"
wrote:

I have a set of folders for each subject, and the date of shooting. I’ll rename all of the files to the subject, and place into the folder, which has the date included, i.e. London_2005_10. Within that folder, I’ll create sub- folders by subject. The file name might look like this: Red telephone booths 0001.NEF. All NEF’s, BTW, go into their own sub-folder, and the processed images into the "Original PSD" folder, with resultant TIFFs in another folder, and JPGs into yet another. So far, this has worked well, but I’m only organizing about 5,000 main subjects / year. I do end up with a lot of files in folders below the main subject, but feel that I can always go back to, say the NEFs, or the PSDs and start over again, if need be.

Not as precise as Resnick’s, but then I don’t have to remember my codes, only drill down into the folder hierarchy.

Hunt

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