Paranormal Research Association of Boston

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You may hear the term EXIF data in relation to digital photographs. But what is it? EXIF (meaning EXchangeable  Image Format)  is the specific information on the picture you are looking at. It has a lot more information that looking at a negative, and it gives you complete information on the camera’s settings at the moment of the picture being taken.
In the paranormal setting, the EXIF data can be used in two main ways.

    • The picture can be dissected and using the information, it can be used to help us explain an anomaly in a photograph.
    • It can be used to attempt to recreate the photograph taken  using the exact settings at the time.


 But what does that data mean? I will now advise you of what the information means.
Main Information

Make - This line as well is telling us the make of the camera. For example Canon, Olympus, Fuji etc.
Model - The model number of the specific camera that took the photo.

Even though these last couple of strings of data the Make and Model of the camera seems straight forward and somewhat basic. These two strings are important. Specially if analyzing a photo from someone else. You use the Make and Model to look up information on that specific camera. This aids us in a couple of ways. We can find out if there are any known defects in the camera that may be causing odd anomalies in resulting photos, or recalls, or look up detailed manufacturer specifications on the camera.

Software      This tells us the software used to create the photo. For example on a non-edited photos it should show the information of the camera’s internal software. It can also show if an image has been edited. For example, it shows on this figure it has been edited by “Adobe Photoshop CS3”

Date Time - This is the date and time the photo was taken.

Sub Information
Exposure Time                  This is telling us the amount of time the shutter of the camera was opened to allow light into the camera onto the image sensor, to produce the image. The camera generally calculates this time in seconds, or split seconds. 


F Number                            This is telling us the diameter size of the aperture of the camera. The aperture is   essentially the eye of the camera. Exposure Program           This is indicating the setting used on the camera at the time the photo was taken. A lot of digital cameras today come with many different settings that can be used. Like, night scene, creative, sepia, black and white, and in this case shutter priority. This string of data is just simply telling us what setting was used at the time the photo was taken. Each setting will have its own default settings as far as aperture, f number, focal points, etc.

ISO Speed Rating             This is telling us the sensitivity of the cameras image sensor to light at the time the photo was taken. To read more:

EXIF Version                      This is telling us what version of the EXIF standard this particular camera is using when writing its EXIF data and displaying it.

TimeDateOriginal            This is telling us again what the time and date was when the photo was
TimeDateDigitized          taken. If manipulation to a photo was performed. Often times you will see a different time and date stamped here than in the original time and date stamp. This should always be looked at when analyzing photos. To compare time stamps.

    Compression Bits            This is telling us the amount of compression the digital photo has had from
    Per Pixel                              the camera's internal storage. Watch this; too much compression can result in loss of quality in the photo.

    Exposure Bias Value       This is telling us the amount of exposure compensation this photo was given by the camera.

    Maximum Aperture       This is telling us the maximum size our aperture can go on this specific camera.

    Metering Mode               This is telling us what metering mode the camera used in determining the correct exposure of the image.

    Flash                                     This section indicates if the cameras flash was used or not. Some times you may see flash being indicated it was used but with a side note of compulsory. This means flash was forced, it had to be used.

    Focal Length                      This is telling us the size of the portion of the lens that was used in focusing the image properly. For more information:

    Image Height & Width  This is telling us the size of the photo in pixels.

    Vendor Original Information

    Mode                                    This is telling us the cameras mode or setting that was used. Such as creative, night scene and so on.

    Quality                                 This tells us the quality mode used in the camera. For example, Small, Medium, Large or RAW.

    Macro Mode                      This is a setting for extreme close up shots.

    Digital Tele                         This is the cameras digital zoom that most digital cameras have.

    The rest of the data is of no concern really.

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