Metadata? What’s… that all about?
That’s a question I hear a lot when I teach an intro to photography course. At The Arcanum, my Foundation Level cohort has a few beginners and the techy details about photography are still rather mysterious and murky for many of them.
This is completely normal, and no one should be scared of adopting photography as a hobby—or potential career choice—because of what seems like a lot of techy lingo and complex weird settings to learn how to use. Basically, metadata is the information recorded within the image file (like a jpeg or RAW file) about which camera settings were in effect when you took that picture.
The metadata is a particularly useful learning tool when you begin teaching yourself the technical side of photography. Usually at that point in time, the details of shutter speed, f-stops and apertures, ISO and EV values, focal lengths and “exposure compensation” don’t represent anything tangible yet. You don’t “get it” because you haven’t “seen it” in action. So, by learning to easily access that inforamtion, you can compare the visual effects that different camera settings have on the final visual result. You truly get to see what that jargon means.
For example, visually comparing two images of the same scene with one image shot at f/2.8 and another at f/16 will have drastically different results in terms of depth of field. But it is the metadata that will tell you which one is which… Easy peasy.
About the Metadata video tutorial
This is a quick how-to video on how and exactly where to find the metadata within your image files. I demonstrate finding that information using Adobe Bridge, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and the Mac OS X Finder.
Adobe product screenshot(s) reprinted with permission from Adobe Systems Incorporated.