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October 29, 2017

Restoring photos’ dates from Google Photos download

Google Photos lets you download your photos, which is good since they’re you’re own damn photos. But when you do, every photo’s file will be stamped as having been created on the day you downloaded it. This is pretty much a disaster, especially since the photos have names like “IMG_20170619_153745.jpg.”

Ok, so maybe you noticed that the file name Google Photos supplies contains the date the photo was taken. So maybe you want to just munge the file name to make it more readable, as in “2017-06-19.” If you do it that way, you’ll be able to sort chronologically just by sorting alphabetically. But the files are still all going to be dated with the day you did the download, and that’s going to mean they won’t sort chronologically with any photos that don’t follow that exact naming convention.

So, you should adjust the file dates to reflect the day the photos were taken.

It turns out to be easy. JPG’s come with a header of info (called EXIF) that you can’t see but your computer can. There’s lots of metadata about your photo in that header, including the date it was taken. So, all you need to do is extract that date and re-set your file’s date to match it.

Fortunately, the good folks on the Net have done the heavy lifting for us.

Go to and download the right version of jhead for your computer. Put it wherever you keep utilities. On my Mac I put it in /Applications/Utilities/, but it really doesn’t matter.

Open up a terminal. Log in as a superuser:

sudo -i

Enter the password you use to log into your computer and press Enter.

Change to the directory the contains the photos you want to update. You do this with the “cd” command, as in:

cd /Applications/Users/david/Downloads/GooglePhotos/

That’s a Mac-ish path. I’m going to assume you know enough about paths to figure out your own, how to handle spaces in directory names, etc. If not, my dear friend Google can probably help you.

You can confirm that you’ve successfully changed to the right directory by typing this into your terminal:


That will show you your current directory. Fix it if it’s wrong because the next command will change the file dates of jpgs in whatever directory you’re currently in.

Now for the brutal finishing move:

/Applications/Utilities/jpg-batch-file-jhead/jhead -ft *.jpg

Everything before the final forward slash is the path to wherever you put the jhead file. After that final slash the command is telling the terminal to run the jhead program, with a particular set of options (-ft) and to apply it to all the files in that directory that end with the extension “.jpg.”

That’s it.

If you want to run the program not just on the directory that you’re in but in all of its subdirectories, this post at StackExchange tells you how:

Many thanks to Matthias Wandel for jhead and his other contributions to making life with bits better for us all.

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August 11, 2015

1M copyright free images ready for viewing and tagging

The British Library has posted one million public domain images — images not subject to any copyright restrictions — at Flickr. (They did this at least a year ago, but it’s still worth noting, isn’t it?)

The public can view them, copy them, and reuse them freely in every regard. An article in Quartz by Anne Quito reports:

So far, these images, which range from Restoration-era cartoons to colonial explorers’ early photographs, have been used on rugs, album covers, gift tags, a mapping project, and an art installation at the Burning Man festival in Nevada, among other things.

The Library posted them not only so they could be enjoyed and reused, but so the public would do what the Library is not staffed to do all by itself: add tags. Says Quartz:

to date, the collection has garnered over 267 million views, and over 400,000 tags have been added to images on Flickr by users. Through a “tagathon” with the Wikimedia UK community, the Library discovered over 50,000 maps in the collection, which they are now in the process of fitting into a modern map.

I can’t figure out how to search within a collection at Flickr, but this view at least does some clustering.

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July 26, 2015

Angry Birds Pansies

Pansies are supposed to look like thoughtful faces, right? That’s where the word comes from. But something seems to have pissed them off.

Or maybe their DNA somehow got mingled with Ed Asner’s.


September 1, 2014

End of summer photos

foggy labor day at lake 2014 - 9

foggy labor day at lake 2014 - 18

foggy labor day at lake 2014 - 26

end of summer 2014

(cc) Creative Commons – attribute, share-alike


By weird coincidence, my friend Peter Suber posted remarkably similar (but inarguably better) photos of a different lake on the same day.


July 12, 2014

This morning

foggy sunrise on like

canoe in the fog

Thank you, Gravity, for keeping the water — most of it — in the lake, and for making sure it reaches all the way to the bottom.

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December 30, 2013

The family album — making good on a resolution

I’ve been spending TV time taking digital photographs of every page of our family photo albums. Sure, it’d be better to digitize each one individually, but it turns out that what I’m doing is way better than never getting around to doing it right.


June 30, 2012

Amerzing pherters

Two sets of amazing photos:

Wikimedia Commons has announced its best photos of the year.

Here’s one I like. It’s by Simon Pierre Barrette.

Also, the New York Hall of Science is exhibiting the winners of the international The Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition. These are amerrrzing photos of microscopic subjects. Totally amahhzning. See them here.

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February 24, 2012

Two tours

The Atlantic has crystal clear photos juxtaposing Japan after the earthquake and a year later.

Business Insider has a set of satellite photos of slums around the world.

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February 1, 2012

High-res St. Petersburg

Here’s a beautiful high-res view of St. Petersburg.

A couple of hints: Click on the “stop” button at the bottom to stop it from auto-rotating. And you may find that your keyboard’s arrow keys make the image easier to control.

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December 11, 2010

Boston Public Library has 15,827 photos on Flickr

The Boston Public Library has put 15,827 photos into Flickr, using the least restrictive Creative Commons licenses possible. Tom Blake, the Digital Projects Manager at the BPL reports “he images on our Flickr account have been viewed collectively over 1.6 million times since we launched the account in March of 2008.”

The photos I dipped into were well marked up with metadata, and tagged. (Their new collection is called “Misc.” :) Some great stuff there. E.g., if you’re interested in the early Red Sox, try these. Or stereopticon images.

[the next day:] Jon Udell, in a tweet [twitter: judell], points to Keene Public Library’s recent Flickr uploadingg. ” KPL nicely models photo curation,” Jon tweets.

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