Rename photos in bulk using EXIF data contained within

I like to have my photos organized into chronological order. So I sort them in folders by year, month and name of the event. Even within the event folders, I like to have the filenames reflect information about photograph. For example, when the photo was clicked, where it was taken, what equipment was used etc.

Lightroom does a very good job of renaming the imported RAW files and exported JPGs using EXIF information that’s encoded into the photographs. But all my photos from my smartphone, my wife’s smartphone end up having messy filenames like IMG00923.JPG or DSC_000_175.JPG etc. These photographs have EXIF information too that can be used, it’s just needs to be extracted. So I wrote this little tool, which can help me achieve this.

It’s called smart-image-renamer. What it does is – go through my entire photo library (or whatever photos I want to rename) and rename all the photos using a format I provide. The format can have things like year, month, date, time, camera, lens, name of event, name of folder etc. For example, let say I went to Half Moon Bay with family and I have a bunch of photos I want to rename. I will write the format as {YYYY}{DD}{MM}{Model}_Half-Moon-Bay{Seq} and these tags within {} are replaced by relevant data stored in the EXIF. So resultant filenames for the photos would look like:

20140529_LGE Nexus 5_Half-Moon-Bay_001.JPEG

20140529_LGE Nexus 5_Half-Moon-Bay_002.JPEG

That’s just one example. There are few more tags that can be used out of EXIF information to rename photos. smart-image-renamer has a nifty test mode too, so that you know what it will do without actually affecting the photos.

Download

Best way to download smart-image-renamer is using pip.

$ pip install smart-image-renamer

Or you can download smart-image-renamer as zip from it’s Github page and install it like any other python package.

$ python setup.py install

I plan to introduce more functionality in future. Let me know if you’d like anything in specific. Feedback on smart-image-renamer is always welcome.

Point Reyes National Seashore – A Photologue

We visited Point Reyes National Seashore last week. It’s a very popular tourist place just few miles north of San Francisco city in California. This park is famous for it’s hiking trails and stunning vistas of seashore and the mountains. I just wanted to share some photos from this mini-trip to the park, so it’s just a photologue rather than a detailed travelogue. I should probably visit it sometime early morning to capture it’s beauty in morning light.

Some photos have glass reflections as they were taken from behind car’s windshield.

Mysore Zoo – A Must Visit Place For Wildlife Enthusiasts

We visited the Mysore Zoo (officially the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens) in the first week of November. I wasn’t really expecting much as most of the Zoo in India aren’t maintained well. I didn’t know however that I was in for a treat.

The moment you enter the zoo, you are treated with 5 healthy looking Giraffes. They are kept in a large area with tall trees surrounding them.  For me, Giraffes were the main highlight of the Zoo. After seeing the giraffes, my expectations went up and I must say I was not disappointed at all.  The way they have maintained the Zoo and the way the animals are kept is very commendable.

Some more information about the Zoo –
  • Zoo timings are from 8.30 AM till 5.30 PM.  You should get inside in the morning to avoid crowd.
  • There is ample parking space outside the Zoo, so no worries there.
  • They don’t allow any types of plastic bags inside the Zoo (plastic bottles are allowed though).  They give you replacement paper bags for your plastic bags (kudos to authorities)

Must watch animals inside the Zoo –

  • Giraffes of course
  • Rhino
  • African lions
  • Gorilla
  • African elephants (talk to the Mahavat of the elephants, he is very knowledgeable)
  • Entire bird collection
  • Entire raptile collection

UPDATE: Now there is one more reason to visit Mysore Zoo often.  They’ve got 5 green anacondas in the Zoo.  All the anacondas are aged 15 months and slowly they will grow upto 20ft long snakes. Source.

Here are some photos from the visit –

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Why Did I Choose Pentax K-x Over Canon 500D And Nikon D3100?

I bought my first DSLR 3 weeks back.  And to surprise to a lot of people, it is a Pentax K-x.  I chose to go with Pentax K-x over Nikon D3100 and Canon 500D.  I get asked “WHY Pentax” many times. Well, modern-day cameras are very much advanced and are very capable.  All are so close in terms of IQ that it is difficult to decide on one.  Because of this, we need to consider other aspects of them to come to a conclusion.

So let’s begin –

  • In-body image stabilization – Pentax offers in-body image stabilization that both Canon and Nikon don’t.  Pentax has implemented image stabilization in the camera body by using sensor shift mechanism.  The sensor shifts itself (kind of vibrates) at a very fast rate to compensate with the camera shake induced by shaky hands of the photographer.  Main advantage of in-body image stabilization is – well, it is in body.  So, ANY lens you mount on the camera becomes stabilized by default. In contrast, Canon and Nikon prefer image stabilization in lenses, which makes the lenses bigger and of course expensive.
  • Ergonomics – My Pentax K-x just feels right in my hands.  All the controls are at the right place.  The body is smallest of the lot with just right amount of weight. The Canon was the worst of the lot with the Nikon coming very close to the Pentax.
  • Low light IQ – This is where Pentax scores most.  This has become Pentax’s USP since K-x, K-5 and now K-r.  Pentax takes a conservative approach towards noise reduction to retain details in photos.  This enables us to process the image the way we want. The noise reduction software are getting better and better day by day, so I’d prefer to do it in the computer with all the processing power and intelligence than in camera.
  • Fastest among the lot – The K-x can shoot at 4.7 frames per second.  This is the fastest burst shooting rate among the three cameras.  Though I won’t need such high-speed shooting everyday, it’s a nice to have feature.
  • Backward compatibility with older glass – Pentax has maintained backward compatibility with all old lenses they have ever made.  So I can use ANY Pentax lens EVER made with my K-x.  Some of the prime manual focus lenses are very cheap in second-hand market. Though Canon and Nikon both have a larger set of lenses on offer, Pentax gives me way more choices than I will ever buy.
  • Largest and brightest view-finder
  • Bang for the buck – Have you ever seen a Pentax advertisement on TV or a hoarding on a road?  I haven’t, because Pentax doesn’t spend much on marketing.  They are a very small company focused on R&D behind their products.  This enables them to price their products lower compared to Canon and Nikon.  I bought my K-x along with 18-55mm and 55-300mm lenses for USD 629.  In this amount with Canon I would have only got the body, or with Nikon one kit lens with the body.

One negative point for Pentax is their absence in retail outlets.  Not sure why but Pentax don’t stock enough cameras, lenses and accessories in retail electronic stores.  This keeps prospective customers away from trying a Pentax camera in the store.  They don’t have good service network too in most of the countries.  In India, they don’t have any presence at all. So if this matters to you, you may want to be safe and go with either of Canon or Nikon.

The main point going against the Nikon D3100 was the stripped down body.  Nikon has removed the focus motor from the D3100, so the lens has to have a focus motor to auto focus.  It also doesn’t have the bracketing feature, which is considered very basic and very useful for HDR imaging.  Nikon tends to do such things with their entry-level DLSRs.

The main point going against the Canon was the price and how quickly they obsolete camera bodies.  500D is now 2 generations old camera as 550D is in market since few months now and 600D already been announced.

If I had a little more budget, I would have gone for the Pentax K-r.  It is new and improved K-x with things like –

  • Dedicated AF assist lamp.  It helps the camera in focusing in very low light (no entry-level DSLR has this).
  • Visible focus points in view-finder (most K-x reviews rant about this point)
  • 3 inch LCD with 921k pixels
  • Even higher shooting rate of 6 fps

So there I have it, the Pentax K-x.  Here are some of my favorite shots since I have my new toy.

The Ferocious Cheetah…

Flamingo posing for me…

Lion cubs enjoying their childhood…

An abandoned barn…

A seagull in flight…

Don’t forget to take a look at my Photos Page for more examples. Signing off… Tada…

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Panoramas… I Want To Do More Of Them !!!

If we go by Wikipedia definition of Panorama, it is any wide-angle view or representation of a physical space, whether in painting, drawing, photography, film/video, or a three-dimensional model. For me a Panorama is a view that you can enjoy only when you are physically present at the scene as no camera (none that I can afford at least) can capture that width. But still you will find amazing photos covering scenes as wide as 360 degrees. Such images are formed by stitching multiple images together using some stitching software.

Here, I am going to post some of my favorite Panoramas I have created so far and some small tips as usual :).  First let’s start with pictures.

NYC Skyline
NYC Skyline

The picture above is a stitched picture of 6 independent photos.  The photo was taken from New Jersey across the Hudson river.

Connor Tea Gardens
Tea Gardens @ Connor, Tamilnadu, India

I don’t really remember how many photos I had to stitch to create the Panorama above.  This place is tea gardens at a small hill station called Connor in southern part of India.

Continue reading “Panoramas… I Want To Do More Of Them !!!”

Why Do I Love Macro Photography?

Anyone who has visited my flickr gallery would know that I am an avid fan of Macro Photography (specially insects). Some people find my passion for shooting insects difficult to digest. What is so tempting about photographing insects that I can spend hours together behind a small creature to get that best shot? Well, it’s the beautiful patterns, or I should say the designs that the insects are gifted – and we are not.  These minute details are which I keep trying to capture as I can not admire those with my naked eyes.

Coming to macro photography, it is not as easy as it seems.  First you have to work with not-so-cooperative insects and second you need a powerful lens to capture them.  Also, either you need some sort of support to steady the camera (a tripod or a monopod or something where you can rest your camera) or you got to have very very steady hands.  I don’t have a tripod yet, so I try to utilize my hands as much as possible.

Here are some tips for macro photography –

  • Know limitations of your camera – each camera a minimum distance beyond which it can’t focus.  For example in normal macro mode, my Canon S3 IS can focus at 1 cm but not less than that.  In Super macro mode, it can focus at 0 cm too, nice.
  • Have enough light – for macro photography, you need to zoom a lot to get closer to the subject and hence need much more light than shooting at wide angle.
  • Get a tripod (I need to get it too) – As you are working at far end of telephoto range, a small shake can give you a completely blurred image.
  • Get a good macro lens – Normal point and shoot cameras are generally not equipped with good enough lens for macro photography.  You need a lens which can enlarge the image and still retain the sharpness.  I use Raynox DCR-250 lens on top of my Canon S3 IS.  This lens enlarges the image 8 times and is very good at retaining the sharpness of the subject.
  • Keep away from Bumble bees 🙂

Below are some of my favorite macro shots that I have taken over last 3 years.

 

Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis
Dragonfly
Quietly sitting Dragonfly
Flower
Flower - I don't know the name
Butterfly
Butterfly

And finally this video.  It’s much more fun when you can capture such wonderful macro videos. I wish I had a tripod.

You wouldn’t appreciate these lovely creatures unless you bend down on your knees and get to their level to see their world.

My First Attempt At HDR

One fine evening (some 9 months ago) I wake up in the evening (Yes, I do that) and what I see from my balcony is a beautiful scene created by mother nature.  Immediately thought came in mind to capture it forever.  But the moment I click, I don’t see the same beauty on the LCD panel of my not-so-expensive camera. If I try to capture the details in the sky, I miss out the details on earth and vice versa.

Then comes the thought to try something different, which I haven’t tried myself before.  Set the camera to exposure bracketing mode to take three different shots at different exposures (-2, 0, +2 in my case) and click click click.  I get three different images with different exposures.

I transfer the images to my Mac and use Photomatix to bind them one over another.  Photomatix does a great job (after some tweaking here and there) and it gives me this wonderful image which exactly looked like the scene outside. Bingo. I like the natural looking image I got.  I have seen some overly processed HDRs which look like some abstract art.  Here my motive was to get the image which looks as real as possible and to my surprise, I did succeed to most extent.

View from my balcony
Trying my hands at HDR

The original images used to create this HDR can be viewed here.

Here is one more attempt at HDR.  The image below was created by binding two separate images, which were not shot keeping HDR in mind (didn’t use exposure bracketing for these).

One more attempt at HDR

If you want to read further on HDR, there is a good Wikipedia article you can read here.