Photoshop and Meta Data

I have had my suspicions for a couple of years that Photoshop had been stripping out the EXIF data that I inserted into my images with Exifer, and now after a bit of testing I have discovered that Photoshop CS3 does indeed remove EXIF data when saving JPG files.

Here is the workflow that I have been trying out lately.

  1. Take pictures in JPG format
  2. Use Exifer to add EXIF and select IPTC data
  3. Use Microsoft Pro Photo Tools to add GPS and address information (geotagging)
  4. Copy all images into an “Originals” folder
  5. Edit the images being very selective as to what pictures are to be Photoshopped and shared with the public
  6. Publish to SmugMug, Facebook, Flickr, and/or my blog.
  7. Copy images to the Storage Area Network device

Meta data in the form of EXIF and IPTC information makes it much easier to search for files years later and web sites like SmugMug will take the EXIF data and use them for descriptions, locations, and more on their web site.

But I now have proof that during step 5 Photoshop is replacing the EXIF description with the IPTC description and if there is not an IPTC description then the EXIF description is now blank. If the IPTC Description and Author Name are filled out they will be copied to the EXIF fields when the file is saved in Photoshop.

I originally thought that this issue also affected the geotagging location set using Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, but after testing it on a couple images that does not appear to be the case.

EXIF data is very important to me and is used to search through thousands of files using web based and software based tools. I find it very disappointing that Photoshop would manipulate the EXIF data without the user explicitly requesting to make a change. From now on I will be adding both EXIF and IPTC data in Step 2.

Related Reading
http://www.exif.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exchangeable_image_file_format
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPTC
http://www.iptc.org/pages/index.php