EXIF data is helping people analyze photos of Trump with COVID-19. Here’s an FAQ to explain the technology.

An Oct. three photograph exhibits President Donald Trump at Walter Reed hospital.

White Home

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President Donald Trump‘s case of COVID-19 gave an obscure photograph knowledge know-how known as EXIF its 15 minutes of web fame as folks began scrutinizing images taken of him this weekend at Walter Reed hospital. However what precisely is EXIF?

In brief, it is an ordinary manner cameras can embed metadata inside a photograph file. That knowledge can embrace the digicam mannequin that took the shot, what publicity settings had been used, the place a photograph was taken and, most pertinent in Trump’s case, the time the photograph was taken.

That final level is of explicit curiosity, since EXIF knowledge from two Trump images the White Home launched Saturday indicated they could have been taken 10 minutes apart. That fueled criticisms that the photographs had been staged photo ops. That, in flip, fueled debate about what precisely EXIF is and the way a lot it reveals — and maybe led to the White Home’s determination to reportedly strip EXIF data out of Sunday photos.

Folks can alter EXIF knowledge, so it isn’t a sure indicator of photograph attributes, however it’s typically correct. It is one of many examples of how atypical residing generates a path of knowledge wherever we go and no matter we do. Our digital lives are handy however can reveal extra about us than we’d like others to know.

Here is a take a look at what EXIF is and is not, and what you possibly can and may’t do with it.

What precisely is EXIF?

EXIF stands for Exchangeable Picture File Format. It was developed in the 1990s, when digital cameras had been of their infancy, by the Japan Digital Industries Growth Affiliation, an business group now known as the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association.

Metadata is knowledge that describes different knowledge. In EXIF’s case, meaning knowledge a few digital photograph. That may embrace data like shutter pace, publicity time, digicam mannequin, digicam serial quantity and a small thumbnail model of the photograph. Cameras initially file EXIF, however photograph modifying software program can edit it extra, for instance including latitude-longitude location coordinates.

How do you learn and alter EXIF knowledge?

Mainstream photograph modifying software program like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom can learn EXIF knowledge. Additionally they mix EXIF with other metadata types helpful for recording data like photograph titles, captions, key phrases and copyright. Specialised instruments like ExifTool additionally allow you to scrutinize and alter metadata particulars.

Picture modifying software program typically provides new EXIF knowledge reflecting {that a} photograph has been edited.

For checking on-line images, there are additionally EXIF viewer extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and different browsers.

Can EXIF show when a photograph was taken?

No. It is not an unalterable file. As well as, digicam settings might be tweaked or set incorrectly. EXIF in your cell phone images will replace once you change time zones, however typical cameras normally must be reset manually. Related timestamp issues happen when daylight saving time begins or ends.

As well as, EXIF knowledge might be stripped out or altered. Twitter and Facebook remove most EXIF metadata earlier than publishing images, for instance, which helps protect privateness.

President Trump in Walter Reed hospital in the second of two photos. EXIF data in the photos reportedly indicated they were taken 10 minutes apart.

President Trump in Walter Reed hospital within the second of two images. EXIF knowledge within the images reportedly indicated they had been taken 10 minutes aside.

White Home

That stated, most individuals do not fiddle with EXIF or different metadata, so EXIF can point out helpful details about a photograph even when it might not be sure proof when a photograph was taken.

How will you use EXIF?

EXIF knowledge might be helpful in some ways. 

A lot of software program handles metadata even when you do not know it. When Apple Pictures or Google Pictures lists your images by date, that is because of EXIF knowledge. It’s also possible to use EXIF to seek for photograph attributes.

EXIF additionally might be helpful for images fanatics. Smugmug’s Flickr photo sharing site publishes EXIF knowledge so photographers can see elements of the recipe that created a photograph, like shutter pace, ISO sensitivity, and lens and digicam mannequin.

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Stephen Shankland