Scanned Image Dates

Started by jch2103, October 18, 2013, 11:41:44 PM

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[This information was originally posted in but has been expanded for this topic.]

People working with scanned images know that scanners and scanning software may not include the date/time the image was digitized, and most likely won't include the original date/time of the picture being scanned. Digital cameras do record these dates/times automatically, but if you use a digital camera to digitize old photos or paintings, the recorded date/time may need to be adjusted.

Modify EXIF Date and Time Command

IMatch provides a convenient command to add (or change) the original and digitized dates/times for images you've selected in the File window: 'Commands/Image/Modify EXIF Date and Time...'. The Help file provides more information about using this tool. You may need to separately choose either Original or Digitized date/time (unless you want them to be the same!). For many scanned images, you may need to run the command twice, once for each type of date you want to add or change. The 'Modify EXIF Date and Time' command applies the Metadata Working Group rules to apply the date(s) to all appropriate metadata fields.

Custom Metadata Panel

Alternatively, you can use the Metadata editor. For easy use, you'll want to either modify an existing metadata panel or create a new one (perhaps with additional metadata of your choosing). Picking the correct metadata tags can be tricky, especially for date/time information.

In general, it's best to choose XMP tags for date/time information. This avoids problems with write-only EXIF tags and follows the Metadata Working Group recommendations. Here's how I set up my custom metadata panel for scanned image dates:

  • Open the Metadata panel and click the Gear icon. This brings up a list of existing panel layouts.
  • Choose an existing panel to customize or create a new one (New Panel Layout).
  • Select 'Custom Panels' and choose an existing child panel or click the New Panel button.
  • Clicking the child panel will open the Tag Selection pane on the right.
  • Click the '+' icon to add a new metadata tag.
  • Click the 'Standard' tab. Scroll down to find 'Created Date' and double-click to add it to the 'Selected Tags' box below (you'll see 'XMP xmp\Created Date'). Then scroll down further to find 'Date Subject Created' and double-click again (you'll see 'XMP Photoshop\Date Subject Created'). Click OK to select the two tags.
  • The tags will now appear in the Tag Selector dialog, with a caption automatically supplied. However, you may find the captions a bit confusing because they're so similar. I'd recommend this for captions:
  • Quote'XMP Photoshop\Date Subject Created' --> Original Date/Time
    'XMP xmp\Created Date' --> Digitized Date/Time
Notice that the metadata editor uses very specific formatting for the date/time fields. Click in one of the fields and you will see a drop-down arrow on the right. This allows you to pick commonly-used dates (e.g., today, yesterday, etc.). The first time you add a date/time, you may want to choose one of these to provide a template. This is how a date/time needs to be entered:
Quote2010:01:01 12:00:00-04:00
This is how the date/time will be displayed in the metadata editor (in the US; the display depends on your region settings):
Quote1/1/2010 12:00:00 PM
Note that IMatch displays the date/time based on the local time zone. For example, I'm in the US Eastern time zone so I set the time zone portion of the date/time value to 12:00:00-04:00, which displays as 12:00:00 PM (noon).

Timeline tab

Images that have an Original date/time will appear in the Timeline window. This gives an easy way to see all of your images in original date sequence.

Attached is a sample image file with original and digitized dates set.

[attachment deleted by admin]



Very helpful. Thank you very much!


Reviving an old topic, wondering if maybe someone's figured out a better way in the intervening years.

Is there a way to "input mask" a date field, so that I could type in "20170527" and have it get put into the Original Date and Time field as "05:27:2017 00:00:00"?

I'm just coming back to IMatch after many years away, and have about 2000 scanned family photos that I need to clean up, and several thousand more that need to be scanned and labeled. I've decided that the IMatch standard tag "Original Date/Time" (which is the same as the IMatch standard tag "Date Subject Created" and maps to EXIF Date Time original and others) is the only date I really will care about, that's the standard-ish field I will use to indicate the date the photo was taken. I'll use other methods to handle the situation when I'm not sure of decade, year, month, etc. [insert editorializing on the crazy complexity of date field names and labels]

I've customized a metadata panel to show the current value of that field, so that I can change it, but the awkwardness of dealing with that format of spaces and colons and inserting time when it doesn't matter is absolutely unreasonable. It's the kind of annoyance that has caused me to ignore this project for years. (Location is another, but that's for another post).

Here's what I'm doing now, and it's awkward and multi-step and kind of insane and will no doubt lead to errors and anger with how convoluted this is:
1. custom Metadata Panel with the fields I care about, Date Subject Created, and Instructions right below it - I've got the date field dimmed, and a note to remind me that the instructions field is what I use to make changed.
2. custom sort by photoshop/DateCreated so that the files are shown in order of what is currently set
3. scroll through and input yyyymmdd in the instructions field for those files that need the date changed. I wanted to use an attribute rather than a metadata field because I wanted it to be "just for me" and not stored in the file, but I couldn't figure out how to have attributes and metadata fields editable on the same screen, so I grabbed the instructions field for temporary use
4. create a data-driven category for the instructions field, not auto updated, doesn't include unknowns, so that I can see all files that have a "date change" that needs to be made
5. create a metadata template that converts the 8 digits in the instructions field into the format for the photoshop/datecreated field and stuff it in there, it also add a red pin
6. run that metadat template on everything in the datadriven category
7. go look at the red pin collection and quick check to make sure things are ok
8. run a metadata template on those files to empty out the instructions field and clear the red pin
9. hope i don't find that I got the date wrong and have to change it because omg that was horrible

Seriously. Is there a better way?

If I could just have an input mask on the metadata panel that says for the photoshop/datecreated field I'm going to type in yyyymmdd and it's going to put everything at midnight, it would all be good.

Am I making this too hard on myself?
How do you guys quickly and easily change dates while you're also creating title, description, and location on your scanned files?


Quote from: LeslieP on May 27, 2017, 07:34:45 PM
Am I making this too hard on myself?
How do you guys quickly and easily change dates while you're also creating title, description, and location on your scanned files?

I'm still using pretty much the same workflow I posted at the beginning of this thread. I agree that date formatting is awkward/annoying.

As a workaround, I use the dropdown on the right side of the date/time field, which contains the history of recent entries, including the desired formatting. If the history contains the exact date I need, then problem solved. If if doesn't, it's easier to use and modify one of the prior date entries than to type in the whole formatting date/time sequence. (Note that the history may even include time zone offset, if that's desired.) Given that we're dealing with scanned images, most of the time portion of the tag can remain '00:00:00', so won't need to be changed unless there are special circumstances. And also given the probable lack of known exact dates for scanned images, you can set date/time for many images at once with the same date/time value from the metadata panel. And of course you can use the custom metadata for adding title, description, location and other information simultaneously.

Another option is copying a particular metadata value that's been entered in a date/time field and pasting it into the metadata tag for a selection of one or more images.