Image file naming strategy.

D
Posted By
drjchamberlain
Nov 1, 2005
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824
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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

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JH
Jim Hargan
Nov 1, 2005
On Tue, 01 Nov 2005 09:54:30 GMT, Joseph Chamberlain, DDS wrote:
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.

First, don’t use long or complex names. Let your database handle all that extra information. Simple is good; DOS 8.3 lowercase is best (as it is compatible with all versions of Win, Mac, Unix, and Linux, and so will work on the web).

Your main use for a file name is to put files in order in a directory view, so you can find the one you want. Let your first 3 or 4 characters designate a category or type, and the remaining characters put the slides into the desired order. Don’t use the date; you can always order by date by clicking the ‘date’ column. (Same with file type.)

NEVER use uppercase. Unix servers think a1.jpg and A1.JPG are different files; Windows servers think they are the same file. For similar reasons, use no spaces, no high ASCII, and no punctuation other than dash and underscore.

Rename Master (http://www.joejoesoft.com/rm.php) does a good job at mass renames, and is freeware.

I use a hierarchy of directories, organized by major topics. A good database makes this less important. I use ACDSee 7.0 — very easy and straightforward *if* you are comfortable with classification and databasing. Picassa is much praised (and free), but I haven’t tested it yet.

BTW, if you carefully check my website you will notice that I ignore some of my own advice: I put a dot in the 4th character position. This is a leftover from a time when I was younger and more foolish, having not yet learned from hard experience. As my mother would say, "Do as I say, not as I do."


Jim Hargan
Freelance Photographer and Writer
www.harganonline.com
YD
yodel_dodel
Nov 1, 2005
Jim Hargan wrote:

First, don’t use long or complex names. Let your database handle all that extra information. Simple is good; DOS 8.3 lowercase is best (as it is compatible with all versions of Win, Mac, Unix, and Linux, and so will work on the web).

if you don’t have a database, it makes sense to put all sorts of organizational data in the file name. don’t worry about long file names, nowadays they work just fine in WIN and linux and pretty much anywhere on the web.

by the way, it’s not only the file but also the directory names that can carry a lot of organizational data. The main thing is, distribute your pix in many directories – never put more than a few dozen pix in one folder, otherwise the performance may suffer badly. Remember, most viewers and image editors will extract thumbnails of a whole directory when it is first accessed (some even do it every time) – this can be intolerably slow if a folder contains five hundred pix.

Your main use for a file name is to put files in order in a directory view, so you can find the one you want. Let your first 3 or 4 characters designate a category or type, and the remaining characters put the slides into the desired order. Don’t use the date; you can always order by date by clicking the ‘date’ column. (Same with file type.)

*DO* use the date and time, maybe in some abbreviated form. remember, whenever you manipulate a picture, the original creation date gets lost, you cannot rely on ‘clicking on the date column’. If you ever need to view your manipulated pix in the order of creation, you better put the creation date and time into the file name.

I use a hierarchy of directories, organized by major topics. A good database makes this less important.

as i said, always avoid large direcories for performance reasons.


Gregor’s Motorradreisen:
http://hothaus.de/greg-tour/
R
Randall
Nov 1, 2005
Personally, I rename them to when the picture was taken by reading the EXIF info.

For example, "20050817_110947.jpg" indicates the picture was taken Aug 17, 2005 at 11:09:47 am. The filename format is in a "date sortable" friendly format (YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS) that I can simply sort by just clicking the Filename column. And I NEVER have to deal with name collisions when using this method.

Obviously there are other numerous ways, but I find this suits my personal workflow extremely well.

"Joseph Chamberlain, DDS" wrote in message
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
D
David
Nov 1, 2005
On Tue, 01 Nov 2005 09:54:30 GMT, "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.

Are these just your own family photos or is this for some organization?

My Canon Pro1 names images with _IMG1234 etc. I use a renaming program to strip out he _IMG, then add a simple date format (01-02-05) for instance after the four digits. When stored in monthly folders named by month and year (Oct 05) it’s pretty easy to track down any image. Where I take a large number of photos in a month, like October with Halloween, then Halloween images go in a sub-folder.

David
D
DD
Nov 1, 2005
On Tue, 1 Nov 2005 16:29:18 -0500, "Randall"
wrote:

Personally, I rename them to when the picture was taken by reading the EXIF info.

For example, "20050817_110947.jpg" indicates the picture was taken Aug 17, 2005 at 11:09:47 am. The filename format is in a "date sortable" friendly format (YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS) that I can simply sort by just clicking the Filename column. And I NEVER have to deal with name collisions when using this method.

Obviously there are other numerous ways, but I find this suits my personal workflow extremely well.

"Joseph Chamberlain, DDS" wrote in message
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

A. Because it breaks the logical sequence of discussion
Q. Why is top posting bad ?

Dave
JH
Jim Hargan
Nov 2, 2005
Use Greg’s advice if you are organizing a few dozen pictures for family and friends. It’s a lot simpler and easier than my approach.

Use my approach if you are organizing many thousands of images for publication to the web or anywhere else. It’ll save you loads of time and effort in the long run.

And what if you are in between? That’s the hard part. Here’s my advice.
1. Dos 8.3 names, a-z and 0-9 only, will do you no harm and might solve
problems later on. Did you know that MS has changed their long name encoding method *three* times? Be warned.
2. You shouldn’t ever, ever alter your original images. Never! So the creation date will never change. (Alternative: you could preserve your original image in the background layer, hidden by higher layers. I’ve hosed enough archived images by hitting <ctrl-s> to distrust this.)
3. Lowercase only. If you ever try to upload any of your images to an IP
who has Unix servers, you will thank me.
4. Greg is completely correct about directory size. Too many files in a directory slows it to a crawl. I have passed 1000 on several directories, and it drives me nuts.
5. If you don’t have a database, you will start to flounder somewhere between image #300 and image #900. If you plan to hit image #1000, start looking into this.

HTH

Jim

PS. If you use date in a name, the format YYYYMMDD will sort correctly.

——————-

On Tue, 01 Nov 2005 16:40:28 +0100, Greg N. wrote:

Jim Hargan wrote:

First, don’t use long or complex names. Let your database handle all that extra information. Simple is good; DOS 8.3 lowercase is best (as it is compatible with all versions of Win, Mac, Unix, and Linux, and so will work on the web).

if you don’t have a database, it makes sense to put all sorts of organizational data in the file name. don’t worry about long file names, nowadays they work just fine in WIN and linux and pretty much anywhere on the web.

by the way, it’s not only the file but also the directory names that can carry a lot of organizational data. The main thing is, distribute your pix in many directories – never put more than a few dozen pix in one folder, otherwise the performance may suffer badly. Remember, most viewers and image editors will extract thumbnails of a whole directory when it is first accessed (some even do it every time) – this can be intolerably slow if a folder contains five hundred pix.

Your main use for a file name is to put files in order in a directory view, so you can find the one you want. Let your first 3 or 4 characters designate a category or type, and the remaining characters put the slides into the desired order. Don’t use the date; you can always order by date by clicking the ‘date’ column. (Same with file type.)

*DO* use the date and time, maybe in some abbreviated form. remember, whenever you manipulate a picture, the original creation date gets lost, you cannot rely on ‘clicking on the date column’. If you ever need to view your manipulated pix in the order of creation, you better put the creation date and time into the file name.

I use a hierarchy of directories, organized by major topics. A good database makes this less important.

as i said, always avoid large direcories for performance reasons.
CC
Cockpit Colin
Nov 2, 2005
This may or may not suit your style, but I shoot exclusively in RAW – then use Adobe’s DNG converter to batch convert *.CR2 to *.DNG.

As part of the process you can specify a wide range of automatic parameters for the names.

Additionally, I found benefit in not worrying too much about the actual file names, but instead saved them into a very structured folder system.
YD
yodel_dodel
Nov 2, 2005
Jim Hargan wrote:
Use Greg’s advice if you are organizing a few dozen pictures for family and friends. It’s a lot simpler and easier than my approach.

To each his own. I routrinely manage thousands of photos by putting them in a meaningfully segmented directory tree, and by putting the creation date plus other organizational markings in the file name.

Use my approach if you are organizing many thousands of images for publication to the web or anywhere else. It’ll save you loads of time and effort in the long run.

And what if you are in between? That’s the hard part. Here’s my advice.
1. Dos 8.3 names, a-z and 0-9 only, will do you no harm and might solve
problems later on. Did you know that MS has changed their long name encoding method *three* times? Be warned.

Yeah, I’ve been into computers for a long time, too. Fact is, that the current long file name scheme is stable. Today, it does not cause any problems I know of.

If you’re saying you should not name your pictures
"grampa-holding-aunt-marys-baby-2005-01-01.jpg", I probably agree. But a thoughtfully designed naming scheme is always a good idea, better than IMG_7482.jpg, anyways.

2. You shouldn’t ever, ever alter your original images. Never! So the creation date will never change.

Sure. But I have not suggested to discard your originals, who would do such a thing? The originals sleep safely in some archive.

Yet, you will hardly ever touch the originals. You will work with modified versions of your pix almost exclusively. You *will* want to view them in chronological order at some time. One very convenient way to do this is to put the creation timestamp into the file name.


Gregor’s Motorradreisen:
http://hothaus.de/greg-tour/
R
Rick
Nov 2, 2005
In message <dk829c$7pj$>, Greg N.
writes
*DO* use the date and time, maybe in some abbreviated form. remember, whenever you manipulate a picture, the original creation date gets lost, you cannot rely on ‘clicking on the date column’. If you ever need to view your manipulated pix in the order of creation, you better put the creation date and time into the file name.

My camera no longer successfully records the time and date, on changing batteries if I leave it for too long it resets back to 2000, so I think whatever internal clock battery it has has gone, so if I want to record creation date I will include it in the filename.


Timothy
JH
Jim Hargan
Nov 2, 2005
On Wed, 02 Nov 2005 11:28:49 +0100, Greg N. wrote:

Jim Hargan wrote:
Use Greg’s advice if you are organizing a few dozen pictures for family and friends. It’s a lot simpler and easier than my approach.

To each his own. I routrinely manage thousands of photos by putting them in a meaningfully segmented directory tree, and by putting the creation date plus other organizational markings in the file name.

You furnish good proof that a large image library can function properly without a database, using only filename and a well articulated directory structure.

Doesn’t work for me. I loose stuff, type in the wrong name, drop stuff in the wrong directory, even save stuff on the backup hard drive instead of the primary hard drive. I find that I can link an image with limitless amounts of data, and slice/dice the library any way I want, by naming the images 249128.tif, where the number is the image’s identifying key in a database. The database entry is always there, easily found — and even if I loose the image somewhere on the network, the database entry tells me what to search for. And the database includes creation date, a long list of keywords, and hierarchical location data.


Jim Hargan
Freelance Photographer and Writer
www.harganonline.com
N
nb
Nov 3, 2005
I use two Canon DSLR cameras ( a 1D and a 1dMkII). I also use a program called Downloader Pro from www.breezesys.com

Once set up Downloader Pro changes the numbers applied by the cameras to something like 105C1234.jpg

The 1 tells me that I used the 1D for this shot, the 05 tells me it was taken in 2005, the C tells me that the camera is in series C (or the 3rd lot of 9999 images for 2005) and the last 4 digits are the same last four digits as applied by the camera.

Downloader Pro (once set up) will download the pictures from either the camera or a card reader and place them into a date specific folder. I have it set to automatically make a folder for the day the pics were taken eg if I shot over three days (Nov 1, 2 and 3) and only downloaded once, it would make three separate directories called 2005-11-01, 2005-11.02 and 2005.11.03) I have to set up a monthly directory once a month eg 05-11 for November 2005.

I use a database searchable by the IPTC data which Downloader Pro allows me to apply before or after downloading. IPTC data is accessible with Photoshop under File Info.

My system complies with the old dos 8.3 rules and allows me to take just under 260,000 images with each camera each year before I run into trouble (not that I have ever come close to this).

Hope this helps someone out there.

Cheers

nb
D
drjchamberlain
Nov 4, 2005
I wanted to thank you all who replied to my post.

The information and suggestions have been very helpful. I am sorting through everything I’ve read and deciding on what should be the best naming strategy for my workflow. Your input has been very important and has helped identify areas where the naming convention can be a problem if not developed properly.

Thank you all again for your help and for taking the time to answer my questions.

Best regards,

Joseph



Dr. Joseph Chamberlain
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

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