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Pictures Posting Upside Down? Here's Why

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  • Pictures Posting Upside Down? Here's Why

    Are you posting pictures that seem to be displaying upside down on this site?

    Here's what's happening.

    On this site, if your photos are displaying upside down (or sideways), they were taken with the phone/camera upside down (or sideways).

    Before posting my photos here, I open them in Preview on my Mac, rotate them 360 degrees (four clicks of the rotate button), and save them again. This removes the EXIF tags completely and saves the picture in the correct orientation. That way, the pictures post correctly on this site.

    Most people first noticed this issue when iOS 5 was released. This was the first time that you could take a photo using the volume up button. This is an awesome feature.

    The only problem is that when you hold your camera with the volume buttons pointing up, your photos will be upside down on most Windows machines (and on most websites that accept uploads).

    How Could Apple Make Such A Silly Mistake?

    Let’s step back for a second. If you rotate your iPhone, the camera won’t know about it. It will simply record the image and save it to a file, letting the software on your phone do the rest.

    To make sure that your photos are displayed correctly, your iPhone adds information about the correct rotation of the photo to the properties of each image, which are specified in EXIF tags.

    Your iPhone doesn’t convert any images to the correct orientation because that would keep it busy for a few seconds. Instead it simply saves all photos as they were recorded and adds information about their correct orientation to EXIF tags.

    This means that your iPhone is ready to shoot another photo within a fraction of a second, which is great. The only problem is that most software developers ignore the information that’s stored in EXIF tags.

    There’s a huge debate about who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation, but I bet you don’t really care about that. What you really want to know is how to solve the problem of your photos appearing upside down.

    How To Solve This Problem

    You can prevent any rotation issues in the future by taking your iPhone photos and videos with the volume buttons pointing down. However, it’s not as convenient as holding your iPhone with the volume buttons pointing up, especially if you use those buttons to take photos. That’s why I almost always prefer to keep the volume buttons up and deal with possible problems later.
    You can also use a dedicated camera app such as Camera+ for all your photo needs. Unlike the iPhone’s native camera app, Camera+ actually recodes all your photos into the correct orientation.

    Unfortunately this takes a bit more time (and more battery), so you have to wait a little while for your photos to be saved to camera roll. Unfortunately Camera+ can’t help you with shooting videos.

    If you already have a lot of photos that are shot upside down, it’s best to use software that knows how to deal with EXIF correctly. All Apple software falls into this category, so if you’re a Mac user, you probably haven’t even noticed this issue.

    On Windows I recommend Picasa for managing photos and iTunes for dealing with videos. You can also use QuickTime for video playback. If you want to fix the orientation of your entire library at once, it’s best to do it in Picasa. Simply select all the photos you want to rotate (Ctrl+A to select all) and choose to save changes (Ctrl+S).

    Depending on the size of your library this may take a few minutes, but once you’re done, all your photos will be in the correct orientation forever.
    Unfortunately it’s harder to do the same with videos. If you don’t have any professional video editing software, it’s probably best to purchase QuickTime Pro from Apple. This software isn’t free, but it provides a quick one-click solution for rotating your iPhone videos.
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