Orquid "Phoenix"

Orquid "Phoenix"

by ceinmart

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I notice that some photographers choose to deliberately omit the information pertaining to how the photo was taken when sharing online.

There's a communal value in learning how other folks staged a shot - so why hide this information? Are there business reasons I'm not aware of at play here?

(Besides the security and privacy reasons discussed in this answer).

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6  
Don't assume it's always a purposeful omission. Sometimes the images are processed with software that doesn't carry the EXIF information. It also doesn't make sense for composites that include more than one image. –  Blrfl Oct 2 '12 at 17:46
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There is far less value than most of the "show me the numbers" crowd seems to think. Unless you're shooting the same subject in exactly the same circumstances using exactly the same equipment, you'll be doing something differently—even in a controlled studio environment. If you're at the level where you can't tell whether a fast or slow shutter speed (or a wide or narrow aperture) was used, then you've got some basic learning to do before it's time to worry about duplicating that ad or NatGeo spread. –  user2719 Oct 2 '12 at 18:37
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Privacy reasons are certainly the main concern.

The second concern is bandwidth. Stripping EXIF information makes images considerably lighter at web-sizes. This makes it a better experience of 99% of viewers who do not care about how the image was made.

Lastly, the information may not exist. A lot of images on the web are composites, be it HDR/Exposure Fusion, stitched panoramas, mixed media, etc.

There is an unintentional factor as well:

  • The default to export from Lightroom only for example only keeps Copyright information in the files.
  • A number of web-services also strip the images from metadata for the two reasons I listed first.
  • Some of them even transcode the image to prevent them from including malicious data fragments or re-compress to save bandwidth server-side (I used to be employed by a company doing both of these).
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I wonder if you could add some numbers to support your "considerably lighter" assertion. –  Reid Oct 5 '12 at 21:44
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@reid There is no single answer, but as I run a photo community website, I know that exif and iptc data combined can take up as much as a few dozen KB. Say 20-50KB. That's not killing for a large format photo, but it is substantial weight. On thumbnails, however, it is disproportional, the exif data can be larger than the actual file data itself. –  Ferdy Oct 9 '12 at 21:04
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Privacy and default export settings (like Itai said) do play an important role but there's another factor

A photographer may research a location, travel there in the right time of year, wake up at unreasonable hours to get there on time for sunrise - again and again and again waiting for the perfect weather, obsess about the exact camera location and take one great shot.

Then he gets an e-mail "I was at [location] yesterday at noon and I snapped a shot at F8 just like you did and the picture look boring, you obviously don't know your job because if you could choose the right aperture value my shot should be good".

And in exchange for the photographer taking this abuse you get to see the camera settings - and unless we are talking about test shots in the lab those are almost completely useless - the time of day and weather and/or light placement make a much more dramatic difference than the selected aperture, shutter speed or ISO.

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Bandwidth is not a concern. It's restricted to 64kb, which is nothing.

But as mentioned, programs can strip the data. If you photoshop a picture that information can appear in the EXIF data. Maybe they don't want you to know they photoshopped. :P

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1  
I disagree that bandwidth is not a concern. Try telling Facebook that. For example in 2010, they had 50 billion photos uploaded. –  dpollitt Oct 2 '12 at 23:34
    
Each one character in HTML saved by my previous employer, saved them 2.5GB of bandwidth daily! It matters plenty when you have to run servers and scale them to demand. –  Itai Oct 2 '12 at 23:49
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Yeah, but the whole file is downgraded and resized. They don't save the the original file and only strip the EXIF data just to save 64k out of a typically 3M file... I'm not saying you're wrong but saying I think it's mainly to do with protectionism. As you said, it's mainly privacy. @ckeorner asked when photographers choose to deliberately omit the information ... when sharing online. From my experience, this isn't FB but bloggers to show of their photo (usually at a high resolution) skills. –  BBking Oct 3 '12 at 0:07
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For the second time, @ckoerner was referring to bloggers who'll post a couple to a few, not billions, of photos in a review or forum where the information would be valuable. Not Google, Facebook, imageshack or some other image hosting site. Infact, flickr makes an effort for save such information. –  BBking Oct 3 '12 at 12:19
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@Itam so you telling that your employer had 2.5 billion of pageview per day? Not sure that even Google does that, and certainly not on a single page. –  Paolo Oct 5 '12 at 11:43
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