The VRC supports the creation of high-quality digital images and associated metadata for inclusion in our LUNA image database. LUNA provides a good web interface for viewing, grouping, and downloading images (it even has the ability to export images to Powerpoint). The VRC also supports university access to ARTstor, a subscription database with 1.5 million+ digital images. We hope that you’ll make use of these two excellent web discovery tools when possible—and please feel free to provide feedback to us on what you’d like to see added to LUNA!
However, we do recognize that LUNA and ARTstor may not be adequate for managing/manipulating VRC image requests and their associated data. Some faculty, students and instructors prefer to manage their own offline image management system that can include both VRC requests, ARTstor images, and images that are obtained elsewhere. Some instructors would also like to be able to manipulate data to make searching easier, including the bulk addition of keywords, course information, etc. This is where a personal image management system can really quite useful.
We’ve laid out some recommendations for image management software and some other miscellaneous ideas for you to consider. And we’re always happy to consult with you and demonstrate how each of these different systems work, so feel free to contact us with questions or to set up an appointment.
Some things to think about when choosing an image management system …
- Have a system that allows you to back up your images regularly, both on a hard drive and in the cloud (if possible).
- Will you be able to move your images to a new system when needed? Can you export the data and images easily? Choose a flexible system that is not proprietary (for example, if the company goes out of business you will still be able to access your image files). You should be able to easily import and export files with data into and out of the system.
- If you are using a web-based system, is there any way to access your files offline? What if you are traveling for research and there is no internet connection?
- Can you batch edit image descriptions?
- Can the system embed descriptions in files and read embedded descriptions?
- Be as consistent as possible—spelling, filenames, and keywords should be as uniform as possible. Try to select a system that makes this easier for you (for example, you can select a previously entered keyword from a list instead of typing it in every time).
IMAGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
- Free with purchase of Photoshop Elements (desktop software) or a subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud.
- A file browser that provides an alternate way for you to view your files. It points to your existing file structure and does not store copies of your files.
- Create keywords and embed metadata efficiently.
- IPTC data (built-in template) is probably sufficient, but can expand cataloging options with the VRA embedded metadata template and import/export tool. VRC staff should help install this on faculty/staff computer. Recommended for sharing data and images with VRC more easily in the future.
- Can zoom in and out, view workspace in several ways, and reveal file easily in Finder (on a Mac).
- Can resize/convert batches of images, but must have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements installed. Alternative is using an Automator droplet to resize/convert images.
- Can import directly from camera.
- Can organize all kinds of files, including image files, PowerPoint, and PDFs—which means that you can apply keywords to related research articles, papers you’ve written, or presentations.
- $199, with the option to download a free 30-day trial version of the software prior to purchase.
- VRC can provide a template which includes VRC-utilized fields, should you decide to use Portfolio.
- Includes options for creating “Galleries” (similar to image groups in ARTstor or media groups in LUNA).
- Points to files, does not store them, unless you choose to create preview files. Preview files can get a little messy on your computer. The advantage of creating preview files is a faster load time for images, and the preview files may be sized for PowerPoint presentations. The disadvantage is that preview files take up more space on your computer. We recommend turning the preview function off and exporting JPEGs from Portfolio to a size appropriate for PowerPoint (Gallery > Collect or Item > Batch Convert Images). Can use this in conjunction with the VRC PowerPoint script.
- Creates keywords from filenames/paths
- Can create master keywords.
- Can import/export data and images easily, but you cannot import directly from a camera.
- Can organize all kinds of media files, including PowerPoint files. To see a full list of supported file formats, click here.
CamScanner: If you need to quickly make PDFs of documents and you don’t have a scanner (portable or otherwise), use CamScanner on your iPhone or Android device’s camera to take photographs that are converted to multi-page PDFs which you can then email to yourself or others.
To help back up your images regularly, look into options to get free (or nearly free) space in the cloud to save images and data include Amazon Cloud Drive, Box.com, Dropbox, or the Google Drive associated with your UChicago Google Apps account.
A good resource for Preserving Your Digital Images.
And for information about photographing works of art on research trips and editing those images, please see our guide on Photographing Art, Editing Images, and Digital Camera Recommendations.