In the past, I never bothered with setting the time and date on the camera. I never printed out the timestamp of the camera on the pictures. So what was the point? It just seemed like a waste of time. Today, I had a revelation, the date really does matter.
I joined flickr today, I posted some of our recent photos from our vacation. When I did a search for “Sundial Bridge” to see the most recent pictures I posted along with the others, my images didn’t show up. I was perplexed, I knew I should see them at the first of the list when I clicked the most recent link. I had to figure out why these pictures weren’t showing up. I went back to my photostream and clicked on one of the pictures that should have shown up, then I clicked on the more properties link. The properties is the EXIF data embedded inside the JPEG file.
The EXIF (Exchangeable Image File format) data is used by digital cameras to embed camera and image information inside the JPEG file. Just a few examples of the kind of data stored is Image (Height x Width), Resolution, Image Description (Camera), Software, Compression information, GeoLocation and last but not least the date the image was taken and digitized.
The Timestamp fix
The problem was my images were timestamped with a date of 2000. This date corresponded to a default date of the camera. 1/1/2000. It had never been changed, so it kept it. NOTE to Camera User Interface designers, if you’re going to store the date in EXIF data, then set the default to a year before the software release and have your users set the date at least to a year software is released. ie. If your software was released in 2009, you would set the default date to 2008. Then remind them every time the camera is turned on to set the date to a date beyond your software release date.
I eventually fixed the EXIF problem by using software to change the date taken tag.
Unfortunately, I had to delete then upload these pictures again. Fortunately, there was only a dozen of them, so it didn’t take too long. I executed a search as I had done a few hours before and got the results I had originally expected.
I have learned my lesson, loud and clear. I have set my date and time in the camera, and will do so forever more.
Till next time, don’t forget to set the time and date in your camera.