Sharing IPTC: Captions

by JL Beeken on 11-15-2009

Sometimes, it’s tempting to try to tell a long story under a photograph but after experimenting with five different programs, I would recommend limiting your IPTC Captions to one line. People’s names, for instance, and a date, if you must. Otherwise, you could run into printing problems.

XnView, for instance, does not wrap Caption text. The cursor starts at the center and runs any excess off both ends. This is an issue they may repair at some point.

ACDSee Pro will do almost anything you want, but unless you’re using it exclusively …

MediaDexACDSee Pro and XnView have an IPTC field called Headline which could be used for a Caption instead, giving you the option to insert your metadata for printing as:

<Headline>

<Caption>

but this won’t work in either jAlbum or Adobe Elements, both of which only recognize the Caption field for printing. I don’t see much of jAlbum in my future so that’s a non-issue.  Adobe Photoshop Elements doesn’t take IPTC seriously enough for my taste so I don’t use it.

“Excess” information can be added to the “Special Instructions” field in MediaDexACDSee Pro and XnView, but XnView does not have unlimited space for this and will truncate any efforts to include or print the whole.

Legacy Family Tree imports Caption into its Description field, and if you want to put its content under photos in a Book Report, for instance, they would fit better if it was only a person’s name, anyway. It doesn’t recognize Headline, Copyright or anything else.

Welcome to the un-standardized side of the standard of IPTC. If I’ve left you in the dust, here’s today’s conclusion: Unless you’re able to use up-to-scratch (probably paid) software, use the Caption field in IPTC and keep it short.

Despite my best efforts to make family history brain-dead simple for my descendants, they are still occasionally going to have to put a picture here and some information over there together all by themselves.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lester Larrabee 11-15-2009 at 8:17 PM

Un-standardized is an understatement. I’ve been using FastStone for years and I think its the best for viewing by far. cropping resizing etc. are fast and easy. It also can embed jpeg comments. After reading your post I found only Gimp and Xnview can read them. I’ve used Gimp layers option to create a nice looking comment field.

I think Picasa is fun for the face tagging but even its comment field can’t be read on other products. I’ve also compared Paint.net.

Thanks for that tip on the Picasa backup issue.

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JL 11-15-2009 at 8:45 PM

I used FastStone for a long time until IPTC left it in the dust. JPG comments are something entirely different and that still leaves the issue of TIFFs. Yep, Picasa is off in its own galaxy.

IPTC was designed for newspaper photographers, hence the only vaguely family-history-compatible fields such as Headline, Special Instructions, etc.

I wonder if Marlo is smirking as I inch ever closer to saying, I’m throwing in the towel, Go get HERITAGE COLLECTOR.

Being as it’s Sunday I stole a few extra hours for captioning photos in MediaDex and watching the results show up instantly in XnView on my other monitor. If I do it the other way around, the results do not import into MediaDex. Damn, it makes me want to eat nails.

The way it looks is either invest in something that puts you at the top of the heap, and wait for the others to catch up, or go for the lowest common denominator and wait for them to catch up, and then make better choices when you can.

Stay tuned for how weird this can get for GPS. My kingdom for one universally-compatible integrated genealogy-focused piece of software …

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