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Major catalog issue with wrong capture dates after moving files on import

Jul 26, 2013 9:21 AM

Tags: #import #incorrect_dates #organiser_folders

Hello all.


I think i have screwed up majorly over here.


I had a decently organized folder structure with all photos from about 2005 on being organized by year (moved to their corresponding year folder on import from memory card). 


However i had about 10,000 or so photos which were placed randomly in folders and sub folders from various backup/restores etc, which were imported into lightroom but not moved into their corresponding year folders. 


I just purchased LR5 and i wanted to finally take the time to organize my file folder structure and create a new catalog.  Following a method i researched found here: htroom-is-a-mess-how-can-i-just-start-all-over/


Here is what i did:


1)  In Lightroom 4 i highlighted All Photos and saved metadata to file for every photo. (thinking this would keep all original metadata and any adjustments i made on the files)


2)  Fired up lightroom 5 and started a new catalog.  I then proceeded to import folders from my photo file folder and use the Import and Move option which imported and moved the files into the folders by year.


3)  This seemed to work well but it seems i wound up with lots of duplicates (the older photos i had often had filename1.jpg and filename1-2.jpg which were often a cropped dupe) which was not a big deal and still ok so far.


4)  I really liked the ability to click on the Year folder in the library and see all the photos for that year but i noticed that TONS of photos were missing within each year.


It turns out that a TON of photos which were in one of their own folders (not by year) folder were moved to 2013 folder and the original capture date had been re-written as 7-24-13 (the import date) overwriting what it was originally there and ruining my organization!


My catalog is a mess, all the files have been moved to a year folder and alot of the years are just plain wrong.  I don't want to sort through my entire collection (48,000 photos) and find miss-labeled dates and out of place files!


Help!  what can i do to restore the original capture date and put my collection back in the proper order?

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2013 9:25 AM   in reply to mbdrazin

    Is the capture date shown in the Metadata panel on the right incorrect; or is the folder location incorrect; or both?

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2013 9:41 AM   in reply to mbdrazin

    Can you check the capture date using some non-Lightroom tool? I'm sure your operating system can do this. I'm curious, because if the capture date isn't in the file, then Lightroom probably did what is was supposed to do. If the capture date is in the file, then I think Lightroom has screwed up.


    Side question: the photo that was taken in 2001, how did you capture it? Film camera, digital camera, scanner, other?

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2013 9:49 AM   in reply to mbdrazin

    A screenshot of the metadata panel showing the "capture date" would be helpful, as there is no such date field in that panel. There are a variety of different date fields that can be displayed there, i.e. Date Time Original (which is the actual capture date), Date Time Digitised, Date Time, and perhaps Metadata which one(s) are you seeing?


    What you describe is entirely possible, as judging from your description many of the files which are "duplicates" are presumably previous exports.....and if the Export Metadata option was something like "Copyright Only" the "capture date" would not be included in the exported file. Thus when you import it, Lightroom simply assigns a metadata date of the date of import, but crucially if using a date-based folder system it would be copied/moved into a folder with today's date.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2013 2:56 PM   in reply to mbdrazin

    I think if you are going to have a chance to fix this mess, you need to find your backups of these photos and see if the original capture date is in those files.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2013 3:27 PM   in reply to mbdrazin

    So my first recommendation is that you implement a plan to regularly make backups of your catalog file AND your photos, to a different disk than they reside on now. In fact, I would consider this to be a higher priority than fixing this catalog situation.


    As far as fixing the catalog situation, I put forth two options, with the first option being the one I strongly recommend, and the 2nd option being strongly un-recommended, but I accept that this is the path some people will choose..


    1) No more organizing via moving photos and folders from one place to another. Instead, organize by keywords. Why? Several reasons, actually. First is that after reading these forums for years, people who organize by moving photos and folder from one place to another often wind up with catalog messes that are virtually unfixable, and all sort of other serious problems, at a much greater frequency than people who organize via keywords. I am not implying that people who organize via keywords have zero problems, however I am implying that they have fewer and less serious problems. Furthermore, keywords provide a much more powerful and flexible method of organizing than anything you can do via folders. Specifically, with keywords, it is easy to find photos that were taken in different years, and reside in different folders; it is possible to find photos that meet two criteria, such as photos of churches that also contain a member of your family; and on and on and on. Organizing via keywords gives you a natural method of searching — by that I mean you naturally think of a photo's content, and then have the problem of how to find it; and it is very natural for you to then search for photos with that content (you don't have to also recall the year it was taken, you don't have to know what folder it is in). I seriously doubt that you can actually remember what year all of your 10000 photos were taken. Thus, I disagree with the advice put forward by Laura Shoe on how to reorganize your photos — yes, you CAN follow that procedure, and it probably works for a lot of people, but I don't think the end result is worth the effort, compared to putting in an effort to organize via keywords.


    2) You can spend your time adding the proper capture dates to your photos and/or moving them to the proper year folder. Very tedious, and will not produce the benefits that organizing via keywords will produce.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 27, 2013 12:02 AM   in reply to mbdrazin

    mbdrazin wrote:



    since LR4 has the right dates still can i re-save metadata to file for all photos and then reimport in LR5 to straighen this out?


    If all the files have been "moved" rather than "copied", then I don't think you'll be able to do that as all the files in the LR4 catalog will be missing.


    So, with no backups of your images, then I think your only option (assuming you don't want to accept the current situation) would be to change the capture date using the Metadata>Edit Capture Time command (you can use this on multiple selected images if you can identify same day shots), then create the correct dated sub-folders within Lightroom and drag and drop the images into their correct sub-folder.


    I'm still curious to understand how this has happened, as I find it difficult to see how Lightroom could/would remove the EXIF date information during an Import with Move process. Would it be possible to identify the SAME image (one without the date in LR5) in both the LR4 and LR5 catalogs, change the Metadata panel view from "Default" to "EXIF and IPTC" then take screenshots of both?

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