The Date & Time On My Camera Don’t Matter

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Okay, let me admit it right at the beginning:

I never set the clock on my camera.

There. I said it.

Daylight Saving Time Defused

Germany has just switched to daylight saving time and like Groundhog Day, there is yet again a flurry of Tweets, blog posts, Facebook posts and YouTube videos reminding you to set the clock in your camera. Twice a year. Again and again. Ad nauseum.

Add some travel into the mix and, unless your camera has a fancy GPS and sets its own time, the repeated clock setting starts to become a real chore.

But you know, to be honest, I’ve had the clock in my cameras set to the wrong time for over a year. Not because I’m lazy (well, okay, there’s a little bit of that) but also because I keep forgetting. I travel to a different time zone, I meet with other photographers, daylight saving time just descends upon me, I’m distracted, I simply forget to change the time and date on my cameras.

Camera Date Time

But you know what? That actually doesn’t really matter. Let me explain.

Okay, there are of course a few reasons why setting the camera’s clock makes sense. Here are two:

  1. You shoot with more than one camera. If that’s the case, you’ll want the two cameras to be in sync, so when you display the pictures sorted by capture date, they will be in chronological order.
  2. You geotag the pictures based on the data from an external GPS logger. In this case, the time and date are used to link the GPS log to the right pictures.

Beyond that, I don’t know. I find that these are really the only two cases where having the camera be on the proper time matters. Unless you factor in OCD. I’m sure some of you will disagree and let me know in the comments that I’m wrong and of course you might have your own use cases that I missed.

I don’t set my camera’s clocks, yet I travel and have frequent time zone changes. And I shoot with multiple cameras. Sometimes I even record GPS logs with an app on my iPhone and later link that location info with my photos. So why am I still not really concerned about the time and date on my cameras?

It’s simple. Lightroom lets me fix it after the fact.

The Time Reference Photo™

An important piece in the puzzle of being able to fix this later is a picture that shows the current time and date, for example taken off of a clock on your smart phone watch. You can take that reference photo any time. Before you take your pictures, during taking your pictures or if you forgot to do it, even a few weeks later back home.

What’s really important is that you must not set either clock, the one on your smart phone or the one in your camera between taking the original pictures and taking the reference photo. Let those two clocks tick.* Just keep your hands off.

Also, if you took the original photos in a different time zone (or before a daylight saving time change) and you’ve returned home before taking the reference photo, just set the phone to that time zone first. Or do it like me: take the reference photo some time while you’re there and your smart phone is set to that time zone anyway.

If you have more than one camera with you, do that with every camera.

GeoTagr app
GeoTagr shows the date and time**

Step 1: In Lightroom, select all pictures that you want to change date and time on together with the reference picture. Make sure the reference picture is the main selection, e.g. its highlight is slightly brighter than the other selected pictures.

Lightroom image selection

Step 2: From the Metadata menu, select Edit Capture Time

Lightoom Edit Capture Time

Step 3: In the Edit Capture Time dialog, select Adjust to a specified date and time and in the Corrected Time field, enter the date and time that’s shown on the picture. Press enter to change all pictures.

Lightroom Adjust Time

Step 4: you’re done. All pictures have now been set relative to your reference picture, e.g. if your reference picture’s EXIF time were 5 hours off, all your pictures’ times have now been shifted by 5 hours. If you shot with several cameras, perform all the above steps again with each of them.


Sure, go ahead and set the correct time on your camera when you travel or when it’s another daylight saving time switch. Nothing wrong with it, as long as you remember.

But if you’re like me and you simply tend to forget, just don’t worry. Next time you’re on vacation and you some time in the middle of it realise that you forgot to set the clock on your camera, resist the urge to change the time/date. Instead change the whole batch of pictures in one go after you returned home. It’s fast and simple and has never let me down. And in fact, at this point I prefer to not worry about what my cameras are set to and simply fix the time once I’m back home.

* I’m aware that the longer you wait, the more drift you’ll see between the two clocks, but for most GPS tagging purposes, I think you’re still well in the green, even if that gap becomes the size of several seconds.

** GeoTagr is my favourite geo logging app on the iPhone. You can set the logging interval to save on battery and when you start it, it displays the date and time in a way that’s perfect for a reference photo.

Seven Steps To Reclaim Valuable Disk Space By Cleaning Up Lightroom Orphans

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Lightroom LogoIf you’ve been using Lightroom for a long time, chances are you have accumulated a lot of orphan files. Those are RAW files that still exist in your pictures folder, but that your Lightroom catalog (the database) doesn’t know about.

During the import of your photos, Lightroom adds a lot of information about the images to its catalog. The file name, all the EXIF data like shutter speed, aperture and ISO, the location of the image file on your hard drive and more.

Orphans accumulate over time because when you try to remove a file from Lightroom, it’s actually quite easy that instead of removing the image file, you remove it from the catalog and not from the hard drive.

Lightroom Delete Dialog

Whenever you press the backspace key while in the All Photographs view, you get the choice to Delete from Disk or Remove. Delete from Disk trashes the image file, while Remove keeps it in its location and just removes it from the catalog. The default is the Remove button, so by simply hitting enter at this point, you’ve created an orphan.

I have now again reached the point where the hard drive that holds my pictures is threatening to fill up, but this time, instead of just buying a bigger drive and adding to the pile of obsolete hardware, I wanted to find out if there were any invisible space hogs on the drive that I could get rid of first. To my surprise, there were gigabytes of orphans strewn all over the place. Most likely those are files that I wanted to Delete from Disk but accidentally just removed from the catalog. It happens.

Here’s how to find and delete these orphans and reclaim all those valuable gigabytes. WARNING: if you follow this method, you will end up permanently deleting photos from your hard drive!

  1. For later reference, check how much space your pictures take up on your disk by selecting the folder where Lightroom saves the images and pressing CMD-I (Info).
  2. Open the folders tab in your Library and select the top level one (in my case it’s called Pictures). This procedure assumes you keep your Lightroom photos under one directory. If your pictures are on several hard drives or under several top-level directories, repeat this process for each of them.
  3. Right click on that folder and select Synchronize Folder… – wait for the following dialog to update its numbers. This can take a while depending on the size of your library. In the end it will show you the number of orphans behind Import new photos.
  4. Select Import new photos and press the Synchronize button. Lightroom will now import those orphans into your catalog. Make sure you select “Add” instead of “Copy” when you import, so the files will stay in their original locations.
  5. Lightroom will automacially select Previous Import in the Catalog panel for you and show you the pictures it found.
  6. IMPORTANT: Review those pictures to make sure you really want to get rid of them.
  7. WARNING: unless you have a backup, this next step will actually remove photos from your hard drive for good. Select all pictures from Previous Import, hit backspace and when prompted, instead of clicking Remove, click Delete from Disk. Lightroom will move them to the Trash. To completely clean things up, empty the Trash.
  8. Check the disk space that’s used by your pictures again.

You have now hopefully reclaimed a ton of hard disk space. How much? If you measured before and after clearing the orphans, let me know in the comments how much space you reclaimed with this method.

About the Author
Chris Marquardt is a photographer and the host of Tips from the Top Floor, a weekly show about all things photography. Chris takes photographers to amazing places, such as Iceland, Mt. Everest Base Camp, India and Ethiopia. He has produced several Lightroom video classes and the popular e-book 1 Hour 1000 Pics - Supercharge your Lightroom Workflow.

tfttf544 – Lytro, Mechanical and Electronic Shutters

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Today Chris will discuss the Lytro camera with John Arnold of Photowalkthrough fame, and we will find out the difference between an electronic and a mechanical shutter and what the respective advantages and disadvantages are.

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Workshops with Chris Marquardt
Feb 1-7 2015: Aurora Borealis, Iceland
May 2015: India - Darjeeling First Flush
Sep 2015: Ireland - Donegal Dreamscapes
Oct 2015: New York City
2016: Ethiopia - Danakil Desert
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tfttf540 – Fix It In Camera

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fixitinpostLightroom 4 is out but it has a migration bug that replaced all of the tone curves for Chris. Find the latest status on the personal blog of Chris.

How much can you fix in post and how much should you get right in camera? How about exposure, colors, highlights, perspective and focus? Chris ponders the powers of a modern tool like Lightroom 4.

Also learn about the One Shot, AI Servo and AI Focus modes.

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Workshops with Chris Marquardt
Feb 1-7 2015: Aurora Borealis, Iceland
May 2015: India - Darjeeling First Flush
Sep 2015: Ireland - Donegal Dreamscapes
Oct 2015: New York City
2016: Ethiopia - Danakil Desert
» all workshops

tfttf457 – Managing your photos – Tech Guy

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techguy_tfttf_logo2.jpgTo start the New Year off right, we’re talking about what to do with all the photos you took last year? Managing pictures is important and there’s a workflow you can follow. Beyond the conventional folder system, which can make it fairly hard to find over time. Chris recommends Apple Aperture for the Mac or for the PC – Adobe Lightroom

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