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What Your Photos Know About You (itworld.com) 109

itwbennett writes: Sandra Henry-Stocker became curious about how much more complex the jpg format had become since she first did a deep dive into it more than twenty years ago, so she dug into how much information is stored and where. "This information is quite extensive — depending on the digital camera you're using," says Henry-Stocker, "containing detailed information about the photo such as the make and model of the digital camera that was used, whether a flash was used, the focal length, light value, and the shutter speed that was used when it was taken. And, if your phone/camera has geotagging turned on, it will also include the altitude, longitude and latitude of the place where the photo was taken." Henry-Stocker used exiftool to extract and label the data so you can see what is collected, and how you can protect your privacy as well as your intellectual property.
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What Your Photos Know About You

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  • Thanks, we know. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @01:28PM (#50856813)

    Thanks, we know.

    • Re:Thanks, we know. (Score:5, Informative)

      by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @01:51PM (#50857035)

      Thanks, we know.

      No kidding. The EXIF data intentionally contains all that information! And it's really useful to a photographer!

    • by lazarus ( 2879 )

      It's not like nerds created the standard or implemented it in software and hardware...

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @01:28PM (#50856815)
    How is this News for Nerds? It is common knowledge.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      No kidding, it's been well known for years.

    • by dstyle5 ( 702493 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @01:39PM (#50856923)
      Coming soon on Slashdot, a story about how to "stream" movies and TV shows via a web site called "The Netflix". Watch out cable TV service providers, this thing just might catch on!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly what I thought, this is or should be common knowledge for every nerd and photographer, if it's not then you're not a photographer or a nerd. This isn't news at all. This information has been in the EXIF data for many years now.

      Did you know that toilets flush and the waste either goes down into a septic system of some sort or to a sewer treatment plant? Perhaps Sandra can dig into some other common knowledge aspects of life to remind other newbies of how things work and post them to her blog, just

    • by WoOS ( 28173 )

      Come on. EXIF arrived only lately on the scene .... around 1995 [wikipedia.org]. Obviously Nerds would not know about something that new .... or at least the editors wouldn't.

      Slashdot, News for Nerds, Edited by Jocks.

      Can an editor please retract this article. This is a disgrace for this site!

    • Yes, it's common knowledge, but the article didn't even mention the thumbnail of the original image is saved. Cat Schwartz found out the hard way back in 2003 when she posted some pics on her blog that had been cropped to not show her bare breasts. The thumbnail images showed the world what she thought was hidden. I still have those thumbnails around somewhere.
    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      She used a tool which lets you interrogate the fields which were added to the jpeg format when it was designed so that she could see the information stored in the jpeg format and now she's revealing that people store information in those fields.

      Fuck me, I have no idea what goes through the minds of the people deciding what to post on this site.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been uploading photos to Wikimedia Commons for a decade, and they list all this metadata right there. Did anyone not already know about this?

  • iOS preferred.

    If you have a link, please. Diving into the App Store is a vast time-consuming exercise.

  • It appears that itwbennett was, in fact, born yesterday.
  • "had become since I she first" - ???

    • My guess is trouble floating between the first and third person format.

      Doesn't most sites like Facebook strip this out when uploading due to people actually posting location data with pictures of their new toys and getting robbed shortly after?

      • I saw a TED talk where someone from Twitter was saying they take out the geotag information from pictures for our privacy and everyone applauded. I thought it was kind of stupid since you can have Twitter state where you sent the tweet from so it kind of undoes the removing of the data. Most of the time people are going to be tweeting the photo when they take it so taking the GPS info out of the photo only to add it to the tweet is sort of self defeating. (Yes, I know you can turn it off but not everyone

      • by rsborg ( 111459 )

        My guess is trouble floating between the first and third person format.

        Doesn't most sites like Facebook strip this out when uploading due to people actually posting location data with pictures of their new toys and getting robbed shortly after?

        Im sure Facebook keeps (and indexes) the original EXIF data (all anonymously and for your benefit), but likely does remove it from published photos.

  • Which is kinda great. Phones and cameras let you turn off the location tagging, but considering the lengths that people went to for location tagging when it was not a built-in function, why would you? You're not a terrist, are you?

    Nevertheless, if you want all of that info removed, you can use jhead -purejpg *.jpg [sentex.net]

    • I turn off the geotagging if I'm posting a picture to social media or going to use the picture in a for sale ad. I don't want everyone to know where I live, especially with the ads, and I don't trust the sites to remove it for me.

  • by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @01:44PM (#50856979) Homepage

    That means I can actually use some sort of extra data, let's call it "meta" data from now on, to manage my photos! Imagine if in the future they could store extensive details like even the temperature of the sensor! I know I am making things up now, but perhaps it would be convenient for example on some sort of futuristic long exposure technique where you would need dark calibration frames.

    Can't wait for tomorrows news for nerds, where Mandy George-Shelley after twenty years takes another look at the mouse and discovers a second button which can do so many things, but can be a privacy concern if you right-click the wrong things...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not only that, there is optical tracking in the mouse that actually sends your PERSONAL BODY MOVEMENTS digitally to the operating system (Microsoft of course).

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      Too bad the data isn't quite meta enough. What would make this really useful would be some kind of smart subject tagging, so photos could be organized by subject without human (or google) intervention.

      Back in the 80's for a while I had a database stock photo entry job for a photographer, which roughly boiled down to sorting and database tagging thousands of pictures of egrets. I am now far, far, FAR past my maximum human lifetime exposure to images of egrets. To this day I will swerve my car to try to hit

    • Don't be silly, why would you need dark calibration frames on a JPEG file :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Breaking: Journalist discovers exif data, decides it's newsworthy, more at 11.

  • light value ... that was used when it was taken

    This is why I use neutral density filters on my camera... I like to keep private details, like the aperture, private!

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I edit the EXIF info with weird shit. Aperture f0.5, Shutter Speed 1/100000000th, GPS Mars.
  • That's what this news is all about! Great article!

    Next up: Apple TV users can't play MKVs

  • What does the picture have to do with the info? It's the camera that encodes it.

  • In Soviet Amerika, photos look at you!
  • by tomthepom ( 314977 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @02:22PM (#50857337)

    Looks like someone has just discovered EXIF / IPTC / XMP [myphotocentral.com]!

    This is a known issue, most social sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, strip all data, though they may use the title and copyright fields for naming the photo.
    And the more specialized photo sharing sites like Flickr and 500px give you various levels of control over the privacy of photo metadata.

  • OMG!!
  • Is that they're terrible photographers.
    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      I don't need my camera to tell me that!

      Of course, you can rescue anything in post ;)

  • I'll be right back, I have to write a paper on how every internet browser has unique identifiers that can ID the exact computer that is being used to browse any website, no matter how Cowardly they are.
  • If your computer runs OS X, you can use ImageOptim [imageoptim.com] to easily remove the metadata from your JPEG photos without re-compressing them.

    Fight for your bitcoins! [coinbrawl.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wow, EXIF has only been around for about 20 years. Good to see that they are doing some hard-hitting journalism over there at IT World from well credentialed writers who can boast about knowing Unix, English, and and how to buy groceries.

  • The old way: A notebook (the paper kind) with a pencil (this wooden thing with graphite in the center).

    THe notebook would record that Roll #3 was Tri-x exposed as rated (400 ASA), that frame 1 was a grey card at f5.6 with a shutter speed of 1/400, and then on and on for each successive frame.. if you gave a rip about how a particular frame was shot.

    I'll take exif any day, I just make sure the camera (or device) I'm using doesn't geotag.

    • The old way: A notebook (the paper kind) with a pencil (this wooden thing with graphite in the center).

      THe notebook would record that Roll #3 was Tri-x exposed as rated (400 ASA), that frame 1 was a grey card at f5.6 with a shutter speed of 1/400, and then on and on for each successive frame.. if you gave a rip about how a particular frame was shot.

      I'll take exif any day, I just make sure the camera (or device) I'm using doesn't geotag.

      I like geotagging in certain circumstances. I enable it for hiking, vacations, and other times I am taking a picture of a landscape, building, or other public place. There are appropriate times to geotag. Hell, I might even use it to photograph a friend running a half marathon or something. It's all about context.

  • I'm on a mushrooming forum, and members (and more generally any mushroom pickers) are notoriously secretive about the location of their spots. I wrote a script to download images from the site, run them through exitools to check if there are geolocation data and find their spots. I did find some, but unfortunately none close to home.
    • Somebody must have had the same idea. Have you thought of uploading your own, but with the location data frigged? Sewage farm, middle of an airport runway, army practice range ...

      If I see it on the news I'll know it was you.

      • by dargaud ( 518470 )
        That would be a good joke, but I guess people would check on google maps before going and notice something is amiss. And it may backfire if you place them in the middle of a nuclear reactor, you may have some men in black knocking at your door with some questions about your recent whereabouts...
  • by vyvepe ( 809573 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @04:04PM (#50858369)
    for a in *.jpg; do convert -strip "$a" "$a:r.clean.$a:e" ; done
  • So people on the internet can figure out what shutter speed I was using when I took a photo? I sure hope they can't find any other identifying information like the copyright note with my name that my camera is configured to add.

    I'll never post a picture to facebook again! (Oh wait, facebook actually removes all the metadata, which I find rather annoying)

    • LAT and LON data has been used to steal items listed on Craigslist or Ebay. Got a snowmobile or quad for sale? Got a really cute pet or child. It may be a good idea to use a camera without a GPS instead of your cell phone.

      I've looked at some photos on the web to see where they were taken.

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @06:09PM (#50859277)

    Next in the series: your phone has your email, phone calls, and even text messages on it. And pictures! And it knows where you are, like a small spy who follows you around constantly.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So when you enable geotagging, it tags your photos with your geographic location? Good! That's why I turned it on.

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