If you’re a bit of a geek, one of the wonders of digital photography isn’t just held within the image itself, but in the hidden information which attaches itself to the file and makes its way onto your hard drive along with your photos.
The Exif data held within each file can tell you loads – The type of camera, the date, the shutter speed, aperture and ISO setting are only the beginning.
And this can be useful stuff. Users on sites like Flickr often show the Exif data alongside their photos. Which aperture setting got that amazing depth-of-field? What time of day gave that terrific light? Is that a new camera? EXIF data will tell you.
But is all this information enough? It’s already a tempting option, on Flickr and elsewhere, to plot a photo’s location on a map, adding further to the wealth of available data. But this must be done manually and can be a laborious process – too much so for many Flickr users.
And even with the addition of geographical data I’m still not sure this is quite enough to reconcile some photos with the unique moments they capture.
So I propose three new data fields to be populated by our cameras. I would ask major camera manufacturers to take heed and consider these suggestions:
1. Location – I can’t remember where I was when I took that biking photo. Don’t ask me to remember several days later – do it for me. Add the geographical co-ordinates to each of my photos as I take them by using a GPS within my camera.
2. Music – What a night! What a nightclub! What dancing! What on earth were we listening to?
I have no idea. But build an extra gizmo into my camera which listens to the tune being played as I press my shutter release, looks it up on the internet, and then embeds this information as EXIF data. Dexy’s Midnight Runners? Oh dear…
3. Alcohol – Why is that photo so blurred? Why is the subject’s head truncated? Why have I taken 34 photos of the same thing? Am I an adventurous artist or just a drunken buffoon? An in-built breathalyser just beneath the viewfinder will easily allow me to look back at an image with a greater understanding of why I appear to be lying in the floor. “1/60 shutter, f4.5 aperture, 400 ISO and 5 pints of lager: I’m evidently a creative genius!”