November 5, 2003

Searchable Photos: Part II

When I was in Italy I ate alone at lunch and dinner. There’s nothing worse than having to look like you’re enjoying dining alone (with nothing more interesting to do than look at your fellow diners all evening), so I would either bring a book to read, or a pen and paper to make lists.

One evening in Florence I made a list of features I wanted in photo gallery software that I could use with this weblog. When I came home I took a second look at that feature list in the context of the comments I received on How To Make Photos More Searchable.

Here’s what I came up with.

Step 1: My Situation

  1. Camera: I have two cameras, an EOS-10D and a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P72. I had an EOS film camera for many years, so making the step to using a digital back with my existing lens was a no-brainer once one with enough features became available. I like to put the Sony in my pocket when the EOS is too bulky for where we’re going, e.g. hiking with the kids.
  2. Photo Software: I use iPhoto on an iBook to store my photos. I use Photoshop Elements 2.0 to resize the images for the web and create two sizes of thumbnails. I use ftp to move the variously sized images to my web server.
  3. Weblog: I use MovableType. I tried a couple of other packages, but for no particular reason, other than it was good enough, decided on MovableType. If I had it to do over again I might use PHPNuke, but it’s not worth the hassle of starting all over again at this point.
  4. Servers: I have a server sitting at a colo in San Jose that serves this site. I have an identical MovableType setup on my home PC so I can write entries locally without being connected to the net. I do this partly because I only get 33.6K connectivity here in Cornwall, but also so I can hack the site and not impact my server.
  5. Programming: I program in most anything – except Perl. I’ve always disliked command lines and shell scripts, and Perl reminds me of a big shell script. On the other hand, the palette of stuff we sent from the States that’s arriving later this week has a Perl book in one of the boxes, so I may dig into it a bit more next week (and I’ll let you know if I change my tune).

    My current favorite programming tools are PHP and MYSQL, as well as the excellent Zend Studio development environment. I used ASP a lot at Wired Digital (aka Terra/Lycos), but I prefer PHP’s syntax, features and capabilities. For database work I find MYSQL easier to install and use than SQLSERVER; and of course there is the cost issue to consider as well.

  6. Photo To Weblog Process: The process of getting photos from my camera onto my weblog looks like this:

    1. Use camera to take photos
    2. Connect camera to iBook
    3. Import photos into iPhoto
    4. Drag photos I want to use on the weblog from iPhoto into a /temporary directory in the Finder. A copy of each dragged photo is created in the /temporary directory.
    5. Use PhotoShop Elements batch capability to create 650 width large images, 150 width thumbnails and 60 width mini-thumbnails.
    6. Use FTP to move large, thumbnail and mini-thumbnail images to separate directories on this web server
    7. Write weblog entry. Insert photo by placing an <img> tag in the html.

Step 2: My Wish List

The wish list I’ve come up with is a direct result of the camera and weblog setup I have, and my desire to do more with geoUrl and GPS information.

  1. Simplify my photo to weblog process by reducing the number of steps it takes to get a photo from the camera to the web server.
  2. Add geoUrl or GPS info to my photos.
  3. Display photos (as pinpoints or mini-thumbnails) on a map using the embedded geoUrl or GPS info.
  4. Create thumbnails automatically on the web server rather than by hand using PhotoShop Elements. (It would be nice if I could create thumbnails that were as small (filesize) as those created by PhotoElement’s “Save For Web” feature.)
  5. Make it easy to add thumbnails, mini-thumbnails or mini-thumbnail galleries to a weblog entry (must be even easier than using <img> tag.)
  6. Display photos in gallery format.
  7. Display photos in multiple large format sizes as is done at
  8. Expose EXIF, geoUrl and GPS info when the photo is displayed

Step 3: Next Steps

Do, or figure out how to do, the following:

  1. Add geoUrl or GPS data to EXIF headers of photos in iPhoto. I guess I need something like RoboGeo running on my Macintosh. And oh yes, a GPS receiver.
  2. FTP photos from iPhoto to my web server.
  3. Create thumbnails on my web server (probably using iMagick)
  4. Create a simple PHP-based API that I can use to display thumbnails and photos on my weblog entries.
  5. Write a simple, PHP-based, template driven, photo gallery viewer.
  6. Read and display EXIF data using PHP.

I’ve already started working on some of these items. My plan is to release anything I do as open source. I’ll post updates as things become available.

Online Research

As part of writing this entry I visited all of the sites suggested by comment writers. I also looked on the web for photo gallery software, or anything else that was somewhat related, e.g. EXIF and GPS. I found a number of interesting sites, all of which I’ve listed here.

General Searches

PHP Gallery Software

Other Gallery Software

GPS Hardware and Software

Mapping Software

Anyone know of a web site on which I can create a map with multiple waypoints? How does Blog Mapper do it?

Other Bits and Bobs

Posted by: Frank @ 11:06 pm — Filed under: Comments (0)

October 1, 2003

How To Make Photos More Searchable (Part I)
Scripting News had two items of particular interest to me yesterday. One was a link to Pheed.Com where they describe RSS photo feeds. The other was a link to WorldKit, a flexible mapping application that I’m going to load on my server later tonight.

I’ve been taking a lot of photographs on this journey, and will continue to do so where ever we live in Europe. I’ve been wanting to share the photographs in new and interesting ways (as opposed to just decoration on a weblog entry). For example, I’m thinking about walking a portion of the coastal walk, and would like to show the photographs on a map, without having to do a lot of extra work beyond specifying where the photos were taken. The WorldKit application may just let me do that – I’ll report back later.

I’d also like to make my photos more searchable. Unfortunately there’s no standard way to describe photo information such as title, caption, location, exposure, equipment, etc., in either the <img> tag, or in the RSS feed described by, and so there’s no easy way for search engines such as Google to know where and when my photographs were taken, or what they’re about.

I’ve been playing around with search, photos and RSS for a couple of years now. About two years ago, I added RSS support to Lycos News search (search for Howard Dean to see an example). This RSS feed returns photos as well as news stories, but as it was built with RSS 0.91, there was no way to specify what was a photo and what was a news story.

But enough of the introduction, what I’d really like to do is propose two things. First, that the <img> tag be enhanced to support photographic parameters. Second, that the Pheed.Com photo RSS not use the Dublin Core, but rather specify a new “Photo Core” that is specific to photographs.

In my dreams the Photo Core would have GeoURL information describing the photo’s location information, as well as exposure and camera information such as is captured on Photo.Net.

If you peek at the source of the image on this entry you can see what an enhanced <img> tag might look like. The RSS feed is left as an excercise to the reader.

Posted by: Frank @ 4:02 pm — Filed under: Comments (0)