Lightroom: How I set the capture time of a bunch of photos

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  • Updated 11 months ago
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This is a follow-up to the posting Lightroom: Edit Capture Time issue - Need a way to set all photos selected to same date & time, but I am putting it in a separate thread so that this doesn't get lost in that long (and sure to get longer) conversation.

One way is to use Capture Time To Exif as it was intended (use the values in the panel to set the date of a bunch of photos). I prefer a solution where I can type in a string to set the time, even though it results in rather rococo process.

First you have to purchase the Capture Time to Exif plugin. Note that it only shows up in the "Library" menu and not the "File" menu on Macintosh. You also should have "Automatically write changes into XMP" set in your Catalog settings.

1) Make sure that the IPTC "Date/time created" metadata is visible in your metadata panel. You can use the "IPTC" metadata panel preset, where it is called "Date Created."

2) Enter the date the photo(s) were taken (the date of the image, not the date of scanning) in the form "YYYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SS" The "T" in that string is a literal "T"--the others are year, month, day, hour, minute, second. You can also add a time zone in the form of "±HH:MM" at the end if you want, but neither the IPTC specification nor Lightroom deal well with time zones.

3) After you have set the capture date in a bunch of photos, select those photos and choose "Capture Time to Exif" and set the values in that panel as shown here:

If you can't read this image, the important parts are
  • EXIF dates: 'Don't change EXIF'
  • Manual command strings: '"-DateTimeOriginal<DateTimeCreated"'
Note that the manual command string needs to have double quotes in the dialog box.

4) After this process completes (it may take a while), then "Read Metadata" for these files. Step 3 does not notify Lightroom that the metadata values have changed on disk, and you need to manually update the values in your database from those on disk.

To explain what is happening, you need to know that there are two metadata fields that are supposed to always have the same value: DateTimeOriginal and DateTimeCreated. (Please, don't ask me why this is so.) However, Lightroom only allows you to modify one (DateTimeCreated)  in the metadata panel, and it uses the other (DateTimeOriginal) to sort photos in chronological order. (Actually, Lightroom's sort by date algorithm is more complicated than this, but don't worry about it here). So what we are doing here is setting one of the values, and then synchronizing the values so that everything is copacetic again.

Please let me know if this is useful.
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Alan Harper

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Posted 11 months ago

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