Creating PDF copies of digitised photos

If the EXIF device make and model information is absent from an image file, and/or the image is obviously a photo of a photo, then the image file does not tell you when the photo was taken. You can tell the date and time that the digital data in the image file was created - from the "file modified" date/time if not from EXIF data - and that is of some value because, first, you know that whenever the original photo was taken it must have been taken prior to the date the data in the file was created - the digitisation date/time. Secondly the digitisation date/time provides a convenient unique reference for the photo. If the photo is important you (or another witness) will probably be saying, in a witness statement, what you know about when it was taken by reference to what can be seen in the photo and you need a unique reference to identify the photo you are talking about to the reader of your statement. For example you might say "I refer to the photo digitised on 5 September 2009 at 20.43.15. I recognise my sister Jane in the photo and from her appearance she must be about 10 years old. She was born on 10 October 1956 so that photo, which shows the position of the garden wall, must have been taken around 1966". 

If the EXIF data is absent and you are relying on the "file modified" date/time for the digitisation date it is important to make sure you are using the earliest possible version of the image file. The idea of the "file modified" date/time is that if a file is copied, but the data is unchanged, the "file modified" date should remain the same. However some methods of copying files do not follow this principle and reset the "file modified" date/time of the copy to the present. For example if you send a file as an email attachment from one device and then receive the email and download the file on another device usually the "file modified" date is not preserved. If you upload a file from one device to a cloud storage provider and then download the file from the cloud storage provider onto another device the "file modified" date/time may or may not be preserved depending on which cloud storage provider you use. So if the image file was not originally created on your Windows computer but was created on some other device and then copied to your Windows computer, check that the "file modified" date/time of the file on the original device is the same as the "file modified" date/time of the file on your Windows computer. If the two dates are different, and particularly if the "file modified" date/time on the original device is some years before the "file modified" date/time of the copy on your computer then it is worth making a fresh copy of the file from the original device onto your Windows computer using a copying method which will preserve the "file modified" date/time. For example you could upload the file from the original device to MEGA and then download to your computer or, if the file is on an android device you could connect the device to the USB socket on your computer and copy the image file to your computer that way. The importance of the digitisation date/time (apart from its use as a unique reference for the photo) is that it helps to establish when the photo was taken - the earlier the digitisation date the smaller the window of time in which the photo could have been taken - so you need to use the copy with the earliest digitisation date.  

If the EXIF device make and model and date-taken data is present in the image file but it is clear that the image file is a photo of a photo rather than an original digital photo (for example it may be clear from the low quality of the image, or the presence of a white margin, that it must be a photo of a photo, or there may be things depicted in the photo which make it obvious that it could not have been taken on the digitisation date such as a person you recognise in the photo who appears much younger than they would have been on the digitisation date) then you don't have to be so concerned about the "date modified" date since even if that has been reset to the present, the EXIF date-taken should still be intact giving the digitisation date.    

To create a PDF copy of the image file which shows the date/time of digitisation in a way which cannot be mistaken for the original date the photo was taken, proceed as follows.

1. Use FastStone Photo Resizer Batch Convert option to create the PDF copy from the image file. 

On the above panel select an Output Format of PDF, tick the Rename box and enter the characters Photo no. $H.$N.$S (digitised on $Y-$M-$D ) Tick the Use Advanced Options box, and use the Advanced Options shown below to include the digitisation date and time in the PDF copy at the top of the page within a white border.

2. When all the options shown above have been selected, tap the Convert button on the main screen.

FastStone Photo Resizer will then, because you have put (Photo no. $H.$N.$S (digitised on $Y-$M-$D) in the Rename box, create a PDF copy named like this

Photo no. 15 27 17 (digitised on 2014-04-02)

You then need to rename the PDF to add your best estimate of when the original photo was taken - e.g.

Photo no. 15 27 17 - taken circa 1992 (digitised on 2014-04-02)

It is usually possible to give some estimate of the approximate date a photo was taken, even if it is only the decade - e.g.

Photo no. 15 27 17 - taken circa 1990s (digitised on 2014-04-02)

but if you really have no idea at all you can simply put 

Photo no. 15 27 17 - date taken unknown (digitised on 2014-04-02) 

If you want to, you can add a brief description of what the photograph shows

Photo no. 15 27 17 - No 22 garden, taken circa 1992 (digitised on 2014-04-02) 


The information on this page about specific computer techniques is provided for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date at the time it was written but no responsibility for its accuracy, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by me. You should satisfy yourself, before using any of the techniques, software or services described, that the techniques are appropriate for your purposes and that the software or service is reliable.

This page was lasted updated in November 2019. Disclaimer