Our Last Meeting: Wednesday 18th July 2018
DigiKam and other photo database software - All

Duncan had been looking at various ways of storing photographs. Prior to digital photography, comparatively recently all photographs were produced by wet chemical processes. These are in the form of prints and or negatives or slides. Storage of physical photos and digital are obviously very different. For digital at the simplest you can use File manager and a folder structure and you will know when a photo was taken and by whom and possibly where and with what exposure, camera, lens and other settings in the EXIF file. With an analogue photo you may not know who took it, when, where and have no technical data either. An album photo might have been given a caption if the photographer thought to do it. Many end up in bags or boxes a with no connection whatsoever; some of his are in the same plastic bag but are 50 years apart.

He has paper files for prints and negatives with film number, negative number and dates and a description on using index cards and box files, but it is very time consuming to do. Numbering schemes with leading zeros or by adding least significant digits. Film size is often incorporated. From 120 35mm etc. It was also extended to include slides.

A manual system once set up does allow quick searching however. He began to follow the same process with digital. He has a filing system and and can relate back. For each shot he has what are called sidecar files having the same file name and containing all the extra info. He had tried a Windows app to search through his file system, but wondered why it was taking so long and found it was spending hours copying over EXIF data into sidecar files but with no more info stored, so was useless. Another approach is to write a short essay describing, say, an event and giving the film number reference etc.

The first App he showed was from the Mint Distro using PiX which is an embellished version of the filer. This went some way towards his goal and could import photos from his drive. It displays a list of properties and can be edited.

Data such as date of file and date of picture taken. What lens was used and exposure time, camera type, focal length and if present GPS which of course tells you exactly where it was taken.

Mixing digitals with scanned physical photos or negatives. The scanner also produces an EXIF file and the photo then becomes digital with a scanned date.

The second programme was Shotwell which is a lot more competent and gives a more detailed view with good search facilities. It can import everything. If pick a particular year and month it will show the tags using keywords. You can still use the folders in the filer instead. You can edit the saved EXIF file data. You can apply the same tag to a group of pictures which saves time. (Aperture: Lift & Stamp). You can sort or filter pictures and export them to an editor.

The final piece of software is DigiKam, part of KDE suite, which uses an SQLlite Database and alternatively can link to a fully fledged server based DB. It is quite a big install as there are a lot of dependencies. You can configure almost anything in it.

Here you can mouse over thumbnails to get data on individual shots. It displays a side menu of properties and also supports facetags which are small dotted frames appearing around a face in a picture as you mouse over it which allow you to identify individuals in a group photo. Duncan considers facial recognition to be very useful. DigiKam also supports storage of movies. You can find things by album or you can click on a tag and it will bring up all the pictures with that tag.("Molluscs"). He writes back tags to images so if the photos are exported the tags will be kept, otherwise they are only held locally, however storing the extra data does slow things down.

You can import directly from cameras and export if set up to do so. It is open source and there is a downloadable handbook for it. Paul said that the author of DigiKam was a photographer who was so annoyed by the lack of such a package for Linux that he decided to write his own. It is good to know that it is under continuous development.

You can put ratings on pictures or tag by colours or use a timeline. Peter said that one saving in early photography was that one tended to only take one or two films a year and some were only 8 shots! Whereas now people with digital cameras can take hundreds each day.

There are very comprehensive search facilities and you can do a fuzzy search of the whole collection too. You can do a search by people as a subset of tags and use the Tag Manager.

Duncan then went through a large number of his shots to show the various search facilities. You can scan collection for faces. However a side view of a person is not considered a face but an object with a triangle shape, a slot and two round things may be considered a face (silly faces).

Duncan said that sometimes you find unexpected info in scanned photos.

Michael asked how long it took Duncan to sort out a holiday's worth of photos (est. ~200) he reckoned a couple of weeks. So one must decide how worthwhile it is to process each one or whether it is just quicker to tag them all as "holiday2017" say.

With scanning old pictures you can attempt to recreate the original colours.

Peter said it is possible also to repair photos removing scratches and dust spots.

(It is a useful feature in Aperture.)

DigiKam is indeed a very complete and complex package and has full photo editing capabilities within a "Light Table".

Duncan was not storing RAW files as they take up so much space. Some people take both RAW and JPEG files so they can easily be shared with others who can't use RAW. Peter always shoots in RAW only and converts them in Aperture if wanting to share them and this gives him more flexibility for adjustment. RAW files however are about 70MB.

Duncan was using version 4.12.0 of DigiKam but thought that it was now up to version 5. As he had to install it on an old PC he did find it a bit on the slow side.

There are both PC and Mac versions although the Linux version is the most up to date. (Least developed).

Peter mentioned Vuescan's Newsletter starting from the April issue which has a now a series of articles on photo archiving written by Cathi Nelson who is the founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers and has written a book on how to do it called "Photo Organizing Made Easy: Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed".

The following is paraphrased from her article.


Her view is first collect everything together and then start to organise it. Weigh photos to check how long it might take if it is not too depressing!

A one inch stack of photos is approximately 100 pictures and a box weighing 6 to 7 lb (2.7 - 3.2 Kg ) is equivalent to 100 - 1200 photos she thinks (size not specified).

She thinks you should keep photos which mean something to you. She uses the ABC'S approach.

"A" stands for Album. The best of the best. This where you put photos that are worthy to be in an Album. They will be digitized and can be displayed or shared you can identify them with sticky notes.

"B" stands for Box. These photos support your best. Ones you can't decide to part with but you can't decide if it is an "A".

"C" stands for Can. Yes you can repurpose these or can throw them away. Be brutal here.

So you select photos in the A group If a photo doesn't mean anything to you throw it away. An exercise in nostalgia.

"S" for Story, pictures which tell a story.

I have now got an e-copy of the book which does make quite interesting reading.

This was a pretty good evening and many thanks to Duncan for all the hard work he put into it. Here's hoping we can all get organised now!


Our Next Meeting Wednesday 15th August 2018

Our Summer Social evening which is being held at the Treble Tile, West Bergholt. Details of this are being notified by separate emails.

Our Next technical meeting Wednesday 19th September 2108
"Programming languages."

Something for you to ponder when you are lying on a beach or by a pool somewhere!

In Memoriam

We were very sorry to learn of the death of John Rye who had been a long time member since the days of SARC. Gareth and I went to his funeral in Hadleigh last week. The club has made a tribute to the Elizabeth Hospice in his name. This may be viewed on http://www.gwinnell.co.uk/tributes.

Future Programme

At the Committee meeting held recently we decided on the following list of future events, but as always, if someone else would like us to introduce some other topics we would delighted to accommodate them.

ICENI Future programme

ICENI Future programme 2018/2019
August 15th Summer Social Evening - Treble Tile, West Bergholt All
September 19th Programming languages All
October 17th Robotics and Augmented Reality All
November 21st Slide/Video Evening All
December 19th Gadgets and Party Evening All
January 16th Winter Social Evening - TBA All
February 20th NAS + RAID + storage solutions All
March 20th New Devices and hardware SSD All
April 17th Mac Evening All
May 15th AGM - Computer Surgery All

The Social evenings dates and venues are just suggestions at this stage.

Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.

Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website.


Membership fee currently £15, visitors free.

Special Notice - Insurance

"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."

However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)

Our Website and Email

Our website URL is


Email to: iceni@woolridge.org.uk

I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website. If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.