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photos which have lost their capture time

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Stephanie Booth

Active Member
Mar 21, 2018
Lausanne, Switzerland
Lightroom Experience
Lightroom Version
Lightroom Version
Lightroom Classic version: 7.5 [ 1186149 ]
Operating System
  1. macOS 10.13 High Sierra
I have a thousand or two photos which seem to have "lost" their capture time somewhere along the way. I might have old catalogue backups of these photos, somewhere, maybe before the time they lost the capture time in question. Unfortunately they have also been moved from one folder to another -- but the filenames haven't changed.

I'm not certain I understand enough about how a capture time is "recorded" in a photo to figure out how/why they disappeared. I kind of assumed it was part of the photo metadata, so why would it suddenly disappear or be reset to "today"?
What file type are they? I regularly see photos saved from phones that haven't got their capture times.

Losing capture times is fairly hard to do, but a metadata preset with the capture date field checked but empty can do it.
I don't think I applied any metadata preset to them. It seemed that each time I opened the catalog there were more of them. What I might have done is read metadata from disk -- could that have done it?

They are JPGs and videos, and "Unknown camera". Looks like something I did at some point wiped camera and capture time... oh dear. But was that info stored in the files or the catalog? Do I need to dig for an older version of a catalog containing those photos, or hope I have a Time Machine backup of them somewhere?

Now that I think of it, it's also possible at some point (some time back) I used exiftool on the jpgs, because apple photos had exported xmps for those jpgs, so I used exiftool to write the info from the xmps into the jpgs so LR would be able to read it when I imported them.
The next question would be: say I have a catalog containing tons of photos INCLUDING versions of these with the right date, and the same name. I guess I could use the method I've been using so far:

- export metadata for everybody with LR Transporter
- fiddle in Google Sheets so I can create a CSV where the correct capture times match the right file names
- import that back into the catalog
- then how do I make sure the capture files are written to the files, so I can import them "cleanly" back into my master catalog?

Or, maybe this is a job for syncomatic (I did a few tests yesterday following @johnbeardy's troublshooting suggestion, and what didn't work before seems to work now... more tests needed but maybe it is actually working for me).

Other ideas?
Another thing: I have a few more thousand photos now that seem to have a capture date in the catalog they're in. I'm going to import them from disk into another catalog (because I want them sorted into their "by date" folders). I'm worried that some of them might suffer the same fate. So... how can I make sure the capture time will "stay" with the file?
Read Metadata from Files would have read whatever was in the files - in this case, a blank capture date. So yeah, I think your guess is right.

If you can get syncomatic to copy the settings over, yeah, great. Otherwise, your LR/Transporter solution should work.

They'll come into the new catalog without a date. If they have a date in the catalog, you can try Metadata menu > Write Metadata to Files to write the catalog's information back to the files.

Of course you don't have to use a new catalog to get them into dated folders - you could build out the folder structure manually (year/month shouldn't take long - I wouldn't go as far as by day) and then use the metadata filters to select each month's photos and drag them over.
Looking at the metadata I see there is an IPTC field called "Date Created" (under "Image") -- and there are also fields called Date Time Original, Date Time Digitized, and Date Time.

I guess these should all read the same unless I've had to manually adjust the time of some photos.

Two questions:
  1. when I filter a grid listing by "date", which field is it using?
  2. is there any way to find photos that have one of those fields empty?
I am now faced with a new pile of catalog photos which have "metadata conflict" and I have to say I am now somewhat worried about writing metadata to files... in case this what I did that messed things up.
I'm trying to make sense of the various capture time fields. Here's one example:

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 3.37.35 PM.png

These two videos were flagged as duplicates by Find Duplicates 2 plugin. The capture date is May 2017, that's correct. But they both have a "Date Time" field which is identical and which is set to 15.03.2018 (a day where I tried to solve various issues in Lightroom, and clearly created a mess).

In the metadata filter they are dated correctly.

What are these different Date/Time fields? Is it a known issue that Find Duplicates 2 doesn't look at the Capture Date/Time field but the other one instead?

EDIT: this seems to be affecting my video files
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