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Metadata keeps changing, and I didn't do it :(

EdG

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Dear anyone who can possibly help ;)
Here is a question that I posed to Jeffrey Friedl (who seems like a really cool guy, btw)
"As far as I know, there is no Lightroom plugin to tell me specifically which metadata changes have been made to a photo. For example, Lightroom tells me that the metadata has been changed, and asks me if I want to save those changes. I don’t remember making any changes so I’m reluctant to say yes, because I don’t know what metadata changes will be saved if I do.
This has increasingly been a problem since I switched to Lightroom Classic CC from the desktop stand-alone version. It seems that whenever I open a photo in the develop module, even if I’m doing nothing more than looking at it, when I go back to Library grid view, Lightroom tells me that the metadata has been changed.
Hence my desire for something that will tell me exactly how the metadata has been changed.
Thanks,
Ed"

And here is his answer:
"I’m afraid that I don’t have an easy answer for you. The mapping between data in Lightroom and data in the image is sometimes straightforward, but sometimes quite complex in a way that makes it more or less out of reach for a plugin to figure out, as far as I can tell. (FWIW, I personally don’t use the “save metadata” feature, because I want the master originals to remain unmolested.). It sounds like a good feature request to give to Adobe… clicking on the thumbnail icon might bring up a list of changes? —Jeffrey"

So, my question is, is there any solution for this?
I'm very OCD about my metadata (feel free to have a gander at the metadata in the attached photo) and hate not being sure if it's correct.
Peace,
Ed
 

Attachments

EdG

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Not really a reply, more of an addendum ...
See the attachment for a better idea of my metadata mania :p
Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 2.30.57 PM.png
 
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Hi Ed,

I concur with Jeffery on this. I treat my catalog metadata as golden and ignore all of the annoying metadata is out of date messages. When passing an image outside of Lightroom I always use the built in Edit-in or Export/Publish functions. These will always include the latest up to date catalog metadata in the derivative images.

In the case of Export or Publish you can use Jeffey's excellent Metadata Wrangler extension to control exactly which metadata elements to include. I highly restrict what is published for privacy concerns.

Historically the photo metadata standards are varied and often conflicting. It got this way because there was no standard in the early days of digital capture. There is today the IPTC Photo Metadata standard but nobody, not even Adobe, follows it completely. What you see in Lightroom today is Adobe's take on what they think the standard should be. And many of the fields are derived from one or more sources according to their own rules. For example all of the image dates fall in to this category. The capture date in LIghtroom can come from multiple source fields according to rules that Adobe no longer publishes. As Jeffery stated it can get very confusing.

Jeffery has several tools that are a great help in understanding and managing you image metadata. The aforementioned MetaData Wrangler, Metadata Viewer and the Metadata-Viewer preset builder. I use all of these on a regular basis.

-louie
 

EdG

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Hello Louie.
Many thanks for the input :)
I already use Jeffrey's metadata preset viewer (and LOVE it) and occasionally use the metadata viewer. In the past I have only given the metadata wrangler a cursory look, but it seems worth a closer look based upon what you are telling me.
Thanks again,
Ed
 
Joined
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Ed,

I may have a few answers to your questions.

First, it's important to understand that LR displays the "metadata have been changed" icon whenever something has changed in the "basic" metadata (EXIF, IPTC,...) OR in the development settings AND IF these changes have not been recorded in the corresponding XMP file. When you load an image in the development module, LR updates the development data for many reasons, even if you didn't do anything at the image (see below). These updates will be stored in the catalog anyway. Then LR will compare the catalog contents with the contents of the XMP file. If the contents are different OR if the XMP file doesn't exist, the metadata status icon will be displayed (down arrow if the catalog contents are more recent than those of the XMP file, up arrow otherwise).

So, why does LR decide to change something in the development settings even when you didn't change anything yourself ? You have switched from LR x.xx to LR CC Classic. The latter has new features that require corresponding entries in the development metadata. These entries will be added with default values the first time you load an image in the development module of that new version of LR. That makes a difference with the previously existing metadata. The RAW engine version may have changed. Another difference... The LR version number has changed, that's yet another difference, etc.

Determining what has been changed in the metadata is easy :

- Make a backup copy of the XMP file corresponding to an image that you have not yet loaded into the development module.
- Open that image in the development module.
- Save the XMP (Ctrl-S).
- Compare both XMP files with a text comparison tool and you'll have your answers (you have a lot of free tools available on the web - I can't recommend one for the MacOS since I'm using Windows - see here : Diff Tools on macOS).

Very frankly, given what I observed when making such comparisons, you shouldn't care that much about these changes. They are important only for LR's internal needs. They have no impact on your image.

However, there's another problem with the metadata status flag that makes things more difficult than they should be. This is a bug that has been reported many years ago and that Adobe are not able to fix (or they don't even care, I guess). This bug causes the metadata status icon to appear when it shouldn't. See this thread : Lightroom Classic: Wrong timestamp stored in catalog causing wrong metadata status (all Windows versions) | Photoshop Family Customer Community .

I have deeply investigated this issue, analyzed the LR database, spotted the bug and transmitted all relevant information to Adobe. They didn't do anything about it. So we still have to live with these metadata status flags unduly appearing for images that have not been touched. This generally happens when the previews for these images are (re)generated.

I personally don’t use the “save metadata” feature, because I want the master originals to remain unmolested.
I disagree with Jeffrey's statement. Saving the metadata (which actually means updating the XMP files automatically or manually) is a good way to have a backup of the changes made in LR. If your catalog gets corrupted, having the XMP files handy will allow you to easily rebuild it. Also, having the XMP file available allows you to go with the XMP file and the RAW file to another machine where LR is installed and to catalog the image easily while keeping your current settings (we do this very often at my photo club : we help membres refining their settings and they go back home with an updated XMP; then, they just have to replace the old XMP with the new one and to "read metadata from file").

Hope this helps understand this issue.
 
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The continued incorrect notification of metadata status changes is annoying. And I wish Adobe would figure it out.

Saving the metadata (which actually means updating the XMP files automatically or manually) is a good way to have a backup of the changes made in LR.
In a limited sense this is true. However, to be clear saving metadata to your image files does not constitute a backup of your catalog and it does not fully protect you from a possible corrupted catalog. The best way to do that is frequent catalog backups as done when you quit Lightroom. I personally have this set to "Every time Lightroom Exits". And I will frequently quit and restart before and after any major work in my catalog.

Secondly the ".xmp" sidecar files you talking about are only created for proprietary raw file. And it is true that writing or updating the .xmp sidecar files pretty efficient. However, for all other file types JPG, TIFF, DNG etc., Lightroom has to rewrite the entire image file for each metadata update. This can be problematic especially if many or most of your images are in one of these formats. If you shoot JPG or if your camera shoots DNG, automatically saving metadata is going to be a big load on your system and your backup.

Also, having the XMP file available allows you to go with the XMP file and the RAW file to another machine where LR is installed and to catalog the image easily while keeping your current settings (we do this very often at my photo club : we help membres refining their settings and they go back home with an updated XMP; then, they just have to replace the old XMP with the new one and to "read metadata from file").
This is an innovative approach that I hadn't thought of.

Another method that would work is to have the members who want to do such a review export their images as DNG. They would then have to import the modified DNG back into their catalog and then use Copy Settings... and Paste Settings to transfer the edits back to the original image. This has a few more steps but I would prefer it because it gives you precise control over exactly which develop settings and other metadata are applied to your original image.

-louie
 
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However, to be clear saving metadata to your image files does not constitute a backup of your catalog and it does not fully protect you from a possible corrupted catalog.
For sure not. The LR catalog is the same kind of data as my other documents. So I include it in my daily incremental backup process. I do not use the LR backup feature. This lets the user think that these data need to be handled differently. But saving the XMP files can avoid restoring a whole catalog. I don't do this automatically, though. I have created a smart collection showing which images need to have their corresponding XMP file created or updated. A select all + Ctrl-S and that's it. The long lasting bug mentioned above can make things a little bit longer because some images will still have the metadata status flag set after saving. Tests have showed that the XMP files have actually been correctly created/updated. So, when the problem occurs, the fix is to select the remaining images and to "Read metadata from file".

If you shoot JPG or if your camera shoots DNG, automatically saving metadata is going to be a big load on your system and your backup.
If you uncheck the "Include Develop settings in metadata inside JPEG, TIFF, PNG and PSD files" option in the catalog settings, these develop settings are only saved in real time to the catalog. The image file is only slightly affected when saving. Only a few fields have to be modified in the JPEG/TIFF and since the offset of these fields in the image file doesn't change, this operation doesn't require rewriting the whole file. And this only happens when you hit Ctrl-S or use the Save metadata to file command. AFAIK, this never happens automatically. Only XMP files can be written automatically. However, this can heavily impact the image backup operations, you're right.
 

EdG

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Joined
Aug 1, 2015
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Ed,

I may have a few answers to your questions.

First, it's important to understand that LR displays the "metadata have been changed" icon whenever something has changed in the "basic" metadata (EXIF, IPTC,...) OR in the development settings AND IF these changes have not been recorded in the corresponding XMP file. When you load an image in the development module, LR updates the development data for many reasons, even if you didn't do anything at the image (see below). These updates will be stored in the catalog anyway. Then LR will compare the catalog contents with the contents of the XMP file. If the contents are different OR if the XMP file doesn't exist, the metadata status icon will be displayed (down arrow if the catalog contents are more recent than those of the XMP file, up arrow otherwise).

So, why does LR decide to change something in the development settings even when you didn't change anything yourself ? You have switched from LR x.xx to LR CC Classic. The latter has new features that require corresponding entries in the development metadata. These entries will be added with default values the first time you load an image in the development module of that new version of LR. That makes a difference with the previously existing metadata. The RAW engine version may have changed. Another difference... The LR version number has changed, that's yet another difference, etc.

Determining what has been changed in the metadata is easy :

- Make a backup copy of the XMP file corresponding to an image that you have not yet loaded into the development module.
- Open that image in the development module.
- Save the XMP (Ctrl-S).
- Compare both XMP files with a text comparison tool and you'll have your answers (you have a lot of free tools available on the web - I can't recommend one for the MacOS since I'm using Windows - see here : Diff Tools on macOS).

Very frankly, given what I observed when making such comparisons, you shouldn't care that much about these changes. They are important only for LR's internal needs. They have no impact on your image.

However, there's another problem with the metadata status flag that makes things more difficult than they should be. This is a bug that has been reported many years ago and that Adobe are not able to fix (or they don't even care, I guess). This bug causes the metadata status icon to appear when it shouldn't. See this thread : Lightroom Classic: Wrong timestamp stored in catalog causing wrong metadata status (all Windows versions) | Photoshop Family Customer Community .

I have deeply investigated this issue, analyzed the LR database, spotted the bug and transmitted all relevant information to Adobe. They didn't do anything about it. So we still have to live with these metadata status flags unduly appearing for images that have not been touched. This generally happens when the previews for these images are (re)generated.

I personally don’t use the “save metadata” feature, because I want the master originals to remain unmolested.
I disagree with Jeffrey's statement. Saving the metadata (which actually means updating the XMP files automatically or manually) is a good way to have a backup of the changes made in LR. If your catalog gets corrupted, having the XMP files handy will allow you to easily rebuild it. Also, having the XMP file available allows you to go with the XMP file and the RAW file to another machine where LR is installed and to catalog the image easily while keeping your current settings (we do this very often at my photo club : we help membres refining their settings and they go back home with an updated XMP; then, they just have to replace the old XMP with the new one and to "read metadata from file").

Hope this helps understand this issue.
Hi Samoreen.
Thanks for your advice and suggestions. However ...

"Determining what has been changed in the metadata is easy :
- Make a backup copy of the XMP file corresponding to an image that you have not yet loaded into the development module.
- Open that image in the development module.
- Save the XMP (Ctrl-S).
- Compare both XMP files with a text comparison tool and you'll have your answers"

Unfortunately, now all I have to do is go into a folder in Lightroom (via the navigation pane on the left) and the metadata flags are changing. But not all of them, only some. And there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason in which ones get the flag as being changed and which ones don't.

VERY FRUSTRATING (please forgive the shouting; it's directed at Adobe)

Thanks anyway,
Ed
 
Joined
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Unfortunately, now all I have to do is go into a folder in Lightroom (via the navigation pane on the left) and the metadata flags are changing. But not all of them, only some. And there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason in which ones get the flag as being changed and which ones don't.
Ed,

In that case, please refer to the last part of my post. This is probably due to the bug I have reported. You should read the thread I have mentioned. Yes, it is frustrating but you can't do anything about it. Adobe are not listening and they didn't make any attempt to fix this issue since years. However, you can go to the above mentioned thread and add your comments.
 
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