From CS294-10 Visualization Sp11

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Visualization of Digital Photograph EXIF Data

I want to create visualizations exploring the wealth of information contained in the EXIF data of digital photographs. The prevalence and sophistication of digital image metadata has increased substantially since it was introduced 10 years ago. Camera exposure settings, equipment data, and even geotagging information are now commonly attached to photos shared on the internet. This wealth of metadata is largely untapped and can be incredibly instructive for individual photographers curious to learn about the shooting techniques of other photographers. Visualizing EXIF data can also help photographers better understand their own shooting behavior. Currently, it is common practice to study the EXIF info for individual photos that are interesting, but the practice is slow and laborious. Aggregate analysis can rapidly reveal shooting trends that can otherwise be hard to identify.

Visualization of image metadata facilitates comparison tasks, for example, between similar images taken using different settings. These comparisons reveal the consequences of adjusting various exposure levers on the resulting photograph. This analysis is not limited to factors concerning exposure, but includes variables recorded in the EXIF info, including metering modes, flash on/off, derived measures of depth of field, and so on. The user might input a collection of photographs deemed high quality of a specific subject matter, such as landscapes, and see how the photos are distributed on a plot in the space of aperture vs. focal length. The user might gather best practices and a better understanding of how these settings affect landscape photographs. Reference images are abundant, with sites like Flickr offering easy access to huge repositories of user-tagged/rated content.

Geotagging has recently become popular with photographers, made possible by GPS enabled cameras. Systems such as Google Earth have taken advantage of the explosion of geotagged images, attaching photos to interactive maps. Crunching geotag data can produce statistics such as the geographic distribution of owners of different camera makes. But truly interesting visualizations are possible by combining geographic information with time and date. For example, the additional dimensions of season or year can be factored into a visualization of geographically arranged photographs. A browsing user might be able to explore how the Pacific sunrise, or NY's Central Park changes month by month, season by season via the photographs of others.

Jvoytek - Apr 11, 2011 03:25:11 pm

This sounds like a really nice tool for professional or "pro-sumer" photographers. Seems like there is a lot of complexity to work out, good luck!

Siamak Faridani - Apr 11, 2011 03:33:49 pm

I think it is an interesting idea. It seems that you are well aware of what is available but I think it might be beneficial to look a little more into hobby projects. There are a lot of projects just around flickr so it won't hurt to look into what is missing and try to come up with features that bridge these gaps.

I am also interested in knowing if you have thought about visualization as an educational tool. For example I can look into the meta data for a photo, learn it and perhaps load it into my camera.

Dan - Apr 11, 2011 03:20:44 pm

This idea seems very practical, EXIF data is used by everyone who uses a camera. You brought up some interesting use cases, such as utilization of equipment use and lens, I think that is important to tell a story so people understand how to use the visualization. The interface also looks like you put a good amount of thought into it.

David Wong - Apr 11, 2011 03:37:13 pm

Great idea! It'd be good to identify whether you're catering this to experienced or inexperienced photographs. As per Maneesh's comment, brushing and linking specifically in the context of photographs could be great to illustrate how certain settings change the overall photograph and be very helpful to a novice photographer trying to learn how to tune their camera. In the same fashion, a specific set of queries could help experienced photographers discover new radical ways of taking photos that they haven't yet tried.

Matthew Can - Apr 11, 2011 06:17:36 pm

I think you did a nice job communicating the kind of tool you plan to build. The storyboard was well done. You would probably get the best feedback for this project from the people that are most likely to use it. I would iterate by doing a pilot study with professional photographers.

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