iPhoto 6: Rotated picture not rotated when sharing by e-mail

Posted by Pierre Igot in: iPhoto
January 26th, 2006 • 4:09 pm

This bug was reported to me by a Betalogue reader.

When you select a picture in your iPhoto 6 library and rotate it, if you then click on the “Email” button to share it with someone else by e-mail using Mac OS X’s Mail application, iPhoto 6 does cause Mail to compose a new message with a scaled down version of the picture in the body of the message, but… the photo is not rotated.

Strangely enough, if you close that message window without saving it, return to iPhoto, and click on the “Email” button again, Mac OS X creates a new message window in Mail with the photo in the body of the message, and this time the photo has the correct orientation!

To me, it looks like it might be a synchronization issue. Since there’s no “Save” button to click on in iPhoto after changing the orientation of a picture—it doesn’t qualify as an “Edit” type of operation, I guess—I suspect that the orientation change is not actually saved by iPhoto right away. Somehow clicking on the “Email” button for the first time fails to save the new orientation, but after returning to iPhoto and clicking on the button again, the new orientation does appear to have been saved. (Subsequently the orientation is fine every time you click on the “Email” button, even after quitting and relaunching iPhoto.)

Another one to fix for iPhoto 6.0.1, I guess…


10 Responses to “iPhoto 6: Rotated picture not rotated when sharing by e-mail”

  1. Hawk Wings » Blog Archive » iPhoto 6 bug with emailed pictures says:

    [...] Pierre Igot at Betalogue has noticed an odd bug in the way iPhoto 6 sends some photos to Mail.app for emailing. [...]

  2. Paul Ingraham says:

    It’s not just iPhoto. I rotated an image in Preview yesterday, saved it, attached it to a message in Mail… and it was upside down in the email message. Grr. I was actually unable to resolve this problem, and had to do a screenshot of the correctly oriented image in Preview and attach THAT file, which fortunately didn’t need to be higher that screen resolution. Otherwise I guess I would have fired up Photoshop just to rotate a jpeg!

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    Paul: I cannot reproduce the problem with a PNG in Preview, but I can reproduce it with a TIFF and with a JPEG. It definitely looks like a bug.

  4. Andrew Aitken says:

    Although this doesn’t seem the cause of this particular problem, which does seem like a bug – There are some known problems with rotated images not being rotated when viewed in other apps.

    Just for future reference:
    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=302669

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    Thanks for the link! This particular article probably explains the problem with JPEG and TIFF files rotated in Preview. Although why Mail would not support the EXIF stuff and preserve the orientation is beyond me.

    The other question: What does the rotation in iPhoto do? Does it use the EXIF approach or actually change the picture itself? If it uses the EXIF approach (as I hope it does), then how come Mail is able to show the picture with the correct orientation the second time around?

    We still have unanswered questions here…

  6. Paul Ingraham says:

    I’m not so sure the EXIF based “virtual” rotation is a good idea, actually. Two reasons:

    First, this functionality should not be disguised as conventional rotation. If the image is not actually being altered, that’s relevant information that I want to have: I want a choice in the Preferences or the UI to rotate my pictures by method A or method B. Display-only rotation is a fundamentally different approach to the task, with obvious and significant consequences for rendering the image in a presumably large number of EXIF-stupid applications… including, apparently, Apple’s own Mail! Furthermore, there is the very real possibility that this discrepenancy will cause significant confusion down the road. Is it rotated or not? Easy enough to figure out what’s going on in the short term, but what about after the trail is cold? I might eventually open EXIF rotated images in an EXIF-stupid app (iPhoto, perhaps?!), not realizing that I’d rotated them in Preview long ago, and then actually rotate them… resulting in what? An image that has now been lossily/actually rotated but still also is EXIF-rotated, resulting in something that once again appears to be disoriented back in EXIF-smart applications? Agh! I don’t know if this would really happen, but it’s an example of the kind of unintended consequences in computing that result from trying to be clever without telling the user what the hell is really going on.

    Second, why not simply implement a lossless rotation algorithm? They exist. The venerable Graphic Converter uses one. It’s possible that lossless rotation isn’t perfect (I don’t know enough about the technology to say), but anyone who is content with JPEG lossyness in the first place surely isn’t going to quibble about the difference between “just barely lossy” and “only a tiny bit more lossy”. Really, if you care so much about lossyness that whatever ridiculously small amount of lossyness occurs with a lossless rotation algorithm, shouldn’t you be using RAW files anyway? Surely, the convenience of creating actually rotated images and never facing an unrotated image in an EXIF-ignorant application

    Okay, TIFFs are a different matter. But I refer you back to my first point. Give us a choice, Apple… unless you think it will be too complicated for us simple-minded consumers!

    Anyway, the lack of support for the EXIF or “virtual” rotation in Mail must be a bug, even if the failure of rotation to be rendered in EXIF-stupid applications is not! All in all, I have to give this whole issue a triple eye roll and a deep, weary sigh. Obviously, it’s going to be a long time before I can rotate an image in Preview and have it stay politely rotated in Mail.

  7. Pierre Igot says:

    I agree that the EXIF rotation vs. real rotation situation is a problem, especially if there is confusion in the interface for the two.

    OTOH, a “lossless rotation algorithm” is impossible with JPEGs. As soon as you rotate a JPEG, the algorithm to save it has to start all over again. So there is additional loss every time you do this. I don’t know what Graphic Converter does, but I doubt that they have a way to avoid this.

    Basically, the EXIF rotation idea is good, but it has to be implemented properly and consistently. But of course that assumes that the various departments at Apple actually communicate with each other and with third party developers.

  8. Paul Ingraham says:

    Which they obviously are not doing. Communicating with each other, that is. And it’s scandalous — to use your favourite word, Pierre! :)

    I don’t know what the JPEG rotation technology in GraphicConverter is, but it certainly claims to be lossless. It’s a separate function that says “lossless JPEG rotation”. Hey, maybe it’s EXIF rotation! I really don’t know. I could go look it up, but I’m much too lazy for that.

    However, I still stand behind my point: anyone who is satisfied with a JPEG in the first place really can’t complain too much about lossy JPEG rotation — “ooh, I’ve sacrificed another 0.2% of my image data after already sacrificing 25%!” Frankly, I would much rather accept the (imperceptible) data loss than deal with the (inevitable) confusion and bugginess that the EXIF rotation is already causing.

  9. Pierre Igot says:

    “Scandalous” might be a word I use a lot, but it’s definitely not my favourite! I wish I never had to use it!

    The interface in Graphic Converter is rather confusing, and so is the manual. (I just did a search for “lossless” in it…) It sounds like there are two rotate functions, one “Rotate” that the manual claims is “performed lossless on JPEGs” and one “Rotate depending on EXIF” that is only available through a JPEG submenu in a contextual menu in some situations. It’s hard to tell: 1) what the difference between the two is; 2) how GC manages to avoid any loss of data when: decompressing a JPEG picture -> rotating it -> recompressing it as a JPEG.

    I agree, however, that it’s not all that relevant for people who are willing to use JPEG in the first place. I must admit, however, that, while I use the highest quality JPEG format on my digital camera, whenever I open a picture to work on it, I save it as a TIFF in order to avoid any further loss of data.

  10. Hawk Wings » Blog Archive » Quickies: A Sunday brunch of Mail.app links says:

    [...] Pierre Igot’s eagle eye finds three things (that’s one , two , three ) wrong with the way that Mail.app and iPhoto work together to email photos. [...]

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