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Notes and Comments - About File Names

About Filenames (or "File ID")

One very positive side effect of developing this site, was to unify all of the image filenames to a common pattern. Now I can take every image I have and put them in a single folder with no file name duplication.

One of the first things I do when processing new images is to rename all the files with this pattern. I actually create the rename scripts in a spreadsheet, where all the images are sorted by date and time before given a sequence number.

There are two types of filenames, detailed below.

Type 1 - Digital

These files are taken with a digital camera (or some sort of digital source) which has Exif information. (Exif is short for "Exchangeable image file format", which is a standard addition to many image types to record data about how the image was taken, such as date, time, shutter speed, f-stop, orientation, whether the flash was fired, etc.)

The filename is essentially built from this information. All the images from all the sources are sorted by Date/Time and renamed into the following pattern:

[Year][Month][Tag] _ [Seq#][Cam][Day][Time]

Year is the four digit year the image was taken.

Month is a two digit month the image was taken.

Tag is a two or three letter mnemonic for the entire image set of a particular Subject, just in case more than one trip is taken that month. (It's also for easier recognition of the picture set.)

Seq# is a two, three or four digit sequence number. If a letter follows, that image was inserted after the fact for some reason. This is the final sequence number after collating all the images from the different sources. (Generally images from two cameras and a camcorder, but can include images such as those from flatbed scans.)

(It's really the four above fields that make the filename unique. The same pattern is also used for film scan filenames, described below. The rest of the filename is more informational than needed for uniqueness.)

Cam is a single letter representing the source camera. Common source codes are:

Day is the two digit day the image was taken.

Time is in the form HHM, which is the time the image was captured in a 24-hour format to the closest 10 minutes. Generally, all post 2003 timestamps are in Central Time, regardless of where the image was taken. (This is for the sake of consistency, sometimes not knowing when you crossed a Time Zone, and sometime (usually) forgetting to change the clock(s). )

Well, that's confusing, isn't it? Let's look at a couple of examples.

200809SW _ 2515P23110

This image was taken in 2008, in September (09) and it was a trip to the Southwest (SW). It's the 2,515th image taken that trip, and it's source was a raw image from a Canon camera (P). It was the 23rd day of the month, and was taken between 11:00am and 11:09am.

There is a close variant that looks like this:

201209WDW _ 07310742X30181

The only difference is the sequence number. If the sequence number is six or eight digits, it's a multi-exposure image. The first half is the original starting image number, and the last half is the ending image number. These could be an HDR image, a panoramic or a stupid photoshop trick.

This particular picture was taken on September 30, 2012 between 6:10pm and 6:19pm (Central Time) during a Walt Disney World trip, and consists of 12 images (original images with a sequence number from 731 to 742), processed from raw Canon G1X files.
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Type 2 - Film

The pattern for film scans is similar to the Type 1 filenames. Most of the differences come after the Camera Type. They generally look like this:

[Year][Month][Tag] _ [Seq#][Cam][Roll][Frame]

Year, Month, Tag and Seq# are identical to the Digital filenames.

Cam is still a single character, but "X" designates unknown rather than coming from the G1X.

Roll is a one or two digit number representing the Roll Number.

Frame is the negative or slide number.


199709Wst _ 792F1919

This image was taken in September 1997, on my Road Trip out West. It is the 792nd image of that vacation. The original source was shot with my Nikon F3, and is on Roll 19, negative (or slide) number 19.

There is a variant that has the Day after the Month. So if there are 8 leading digits instead of 6, the day has been added on.

There is yet another variant that was only used in 2001, which mimics the Digital filename, but ends in "xxx":

200109Wst _ 957F13xxx

The reason for this, is a mix of both digital and film scan files. The pattern is the same as it is for a Digital filename, but without the Exif information, "xxx" has been substituted for the time stamp.

That's it! Contact me with any questions.
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End About File Names.

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  • 10/02/2014 - About this site page split.
  • 10/20/2014 - Complete rewrite.