When I download photos I often can't tell which bracketed shots go with which. How do I keep track of them during editing?


One common way to do this is before and after a bracketing sequence, take a quick shot of your hand. That stands out and you know that all the shots between the two "hand" shots are the bracketing sequence. You can use the ground, sky, anything that easily stands out in a thumbnail

Another thing that helps is to change what is often the default sequence on many cameras that starts at 0ev, then -1 then +1. I find it's a lot easier to see a sequence if it goes -1, 0, +1 (or -2, -1, 0, +1, +2) as you can see the images progressively lighten, then go dark again which signals the next set.


Adobe Lightroom can create stacks of images based on their capture time(which is a variable you can modify). So I use that.

More information on the topic: Adobe Help - Automatically Stack Images

  • +1 for the stacking suggestion. You can also manually stack. – John Virgolino May 23 '15 at 6:26

DP, First and foremost, use your SHUTTER_COUNT in your filename. My D800E uses 4 digit numbers which I can roll over in not much more than a day. They SCount should never roll over in the useful life of the camera as it should go into the millions whereas the shutter is usually rated at 1/4 million or less. This way, you won't have DAP_9999 and DAP_0001 in the same set.

Next, see if your camera has an ExposureBracketValue:

D:\pic\new\tp-2015.0506-nef>exiftool -ExposureBracketValue tp-2015.0506-24748*.nef

======== tp-2015.0506-247480.nef
Exposure Bracket Value          : -3
======== tp-2015.0506-247481.nef
Exposure Bracket Value          : -2
======== tp-2015.0506-247482.nef
Exposure Bracket Value          : -1
======== tp-2015.0506-247483.nef
Exposure Bracket Value          : +1
======== tp-2015.0506-247484.nef
Exposure Bracket Value          : +2
======== tp-2015.0506-247485.nef
Exposure Bracket Value          : +3
======== tp-2015.0506-247486.nef
Exposure Bracket Value          : 0
======== tp-2015.0506-247487.nef
Exposure Bracket Value          : -3
   10 image files read

This should tell you if it records it.

SubSecCreateDate is [usually] another good indicator (unless you are taking HDR panoramas with a memory card which can not keep up with your shooting rate):

D:\pic\new\tp-2015.0506-nef>exiftool -SubSecCreateDate tp-2015.0506-24748*.nef
======== tp-2015.0506-247480.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:48:57.20  START  .00
======== tp-2015.0506-247481.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:48:57.40  .20
======== tp-2015.0506-247482.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:48:57.70  .30  
======== tp-2015.0506-247483.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:48:57.90  .20
======== tp-2015.0506-247484.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:48:58.20  .30
======== tp-2015.0506-247485.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:48:58.50  .30
======== tp-2015.0506-247486.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:49:03.40 >>>> 4.80 
======== tp-2015.0506-247487.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:49:03.70  .30
======== tp-2015.0506-247488.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:49:03.90  .20  
======== tp-2015.0506-247489.nef
Create Date                     : 2015:05:06 18:49:05.50 1.60
   10 image files read

Based on these 2 analyses, it looks like a slam dunk that SC 247480 - 247485 are part of the same burst.

Another way is to look at the Normalized or Contrast-Stretched R, G and B for 2 adjacent images (ImageMagick will do this easily). In the same HDR burst, they should be much more similar than 2 images taken at random. It's easy to automate.

One Gotcha! Some sloppily written software randomly picks a "zero frame" via buggy, illogical algorithms and you wind up with the HDR image named after the ~4th of 7 images. Or, worse yet, they will use the only logical file name, the FIRST, lowest SCount file name for the HDR and then take the EXIF data from a random shot.

Maintain an absolute, inviolable, 1:1 relationship between ShutterCount and SubSecCreateDate. Keeping shots grouped within a burst is one level of difficulty. Keeping bursts grouped within a PANORAMA squares the bookkeeping challenge. Some knucklehead developers trash EXIF data because "nobody ever looks at that stuff" making this accounting much more difficult than it needs to be.

The only 100% effective cure I have found for exif trampling is a complete EXIF transplant. I use ImageMagick:

1) Read original NEF with the pristine EXIF data
2) Read the dastardized file
3) Crop the canvas to match the victim file
4) Layers -> Merge
5) Save

The EXIF data comes from the NEF and the bitmap comes from the mangled file. It can be done fully automatically from detection to correction. Don't forget to send an expletive laced nastygram to the miscreant developer with each run to remind them that somebody values this info.

A real SQL database makes the bookkeeping very easy. Create a good table structure and report back on your design so we can pirate the good parts and lampoon the rest! ;)


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