Sunday, December 7, 2008

Photography tips: exif data

The pics on my site contain so-called exif-data. In fact, they contain only a small part of the actual exif-data, but its the part most people seem to be interested in. Among photographers, the word exif means information on camera type, lense type, focal length, ISO, aperture and shuttertime. Why do the pics on my site contain these data? Well, because people want that information. Why do they want to know? I haven't got a clue.

Mmmm, that's not entirely true. I do have some sort of clue here, it just doesn't convince me. The point is, if you see something you like, you want to know how it's made. Well, some people do. We have two ways to find out. First: think, how you would make it. This approach will not give an exact reproduction, but you'll have fun doing it, learn a lot from it and develop a style of your own.

The second method is to copy the process. Hardly as much fun, no style of your own (but by mistake) and not too much learning either. But it will give a perfect reproduction? Of course not, silly. The exif information tells you only so much. The shuttertime and aperture reveal that I used a flash for this picture. But how many flashes? And at what lighting ratio? How were they placed? No way you can tell that from the exif data, but it's the lighting that brings out the texture, which in turn is essential for this pic. But even for daylight shots, the direction, intensity and hue of the avalaible light are not in the exif data.

Technical information only tells a small part of the story of the picture, and it's never the interesting part. Set-up, lighting, composition and timing are all far more important than shuttertime and aperture. Even postprocessing is more important. The only interesting thing about exif data is why on earth people think it's important enough to use the right mouse button.

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