28 June 2009 ~ 0 Comments

Lightroom Tip #1 – Adjusting Time Zones

Halfway through our vacation in Asia, my wife realized we hadn’t reset the time zone in either of our cameras.  We caught it in time for Vietnam and all of our pictures were stamped correctly.  However we were left with hundreds of images taken in Hong Kong stamped with San Francisco’s time!  Fortunately, this is a snap in Lightroom.

First unfold the Metadata panel in the Library module, with the Default metadata set.

Second, locate the Capture Time (it’s about halfway down) and click the Edit Capture Time button.  The capture time is shown as <mixed> because I have multiple images selected.

The Edit Capture Time window appears:

Select the second option and select the appropriate time zone modifier.

If you’re traveling to the family reunion in Ohio, it’s a straightforward conversion from Pacific to Eastern (Eastern is 3 hours ahead).  When you’re traveling halfway around the world, it’s not quite as obvious.

So how did I arrive at +16?  To get from PST to HKT, you need to fast-forward 16 hours.

  • Pacific Standard Time (PST) is UTC-8
  • Hong Kong Time (HKT) is UTC+8.
  • -8 + ? = +8.
  • ? = 16.

I realize this dialog is doing double or triple duty, allowing you to modify the time in various ways although I don’t understand the inflection.  How many times do you want to modify the capture time to a specific time, especially in batch selection?

If you’re selecting the “Time Zone Adjust” option, where are the time zones?  Or even better, a map like when you choose your time zone in the Windows or OS X date/time settings?  Really, that’s what time zone selection is – a poor man’s “Where I am” and “Where I was”.

It’s probably safe to assume the original time was captured in the (incorrect) Lightroom time zone.  We have to make this assumption because the EXIF capture time is ambiguous, as it does not allow recording of the time zone.  There is no reasonable default for the corrected time.

Fixing time zone offset is one of those things I do rarely although when I need to do it, it’s VERY important to me.  Forcing me to do time zone math seems out of place in a streamlined environment like Lightroom.

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