DIY photography tools


Love it or hate it, Facebook offers a couple of genuinely nice features, one of them being "photos from the past." Every day, Facebook shows you photos you took on this date in previous years. Google Photos and other services have similar functionality, but what if you don't use any of them and still want to receive small photo greetings from the past? Natsukashii [5] comes to the rescue. This tool consists of two parts: a Bash shell script that finds photos taken on today's date in any previous year, and a simple PHP page that displays the results. The shell script relies on standard tools that are available on most mainstream Linux distributions (ExifTool, find, sed, seq, and ImageMagick). This means that you can deploy Natsukashii on practically any machine running a modern Linux distro. With a little bit of work, it is also possible to run Natsukashii on a NAS appliance.

Installing Natsukashii is easy. Clone the project's repository using the command:

git clone

Alternatively, download the latest version of the source code as an archive from the project's page. Then install the required packages. To do this on openSUSE, run the command:

sudo zypper in exiftool ImageMagick php7

The PHP part of Natsukashii offers password protection, and you should change the default password before you start using the tool. To do this, replace the default password in the protect.php and login.php files in the natsukashii/www directory. Keep in mind that the underlying password protection mechanism is relatively simple, so you shouldn't rely on it as a sole protection for your private photos.

Similar to Otto, Natsukashii prompts you to provide the required info during first run, and after that it works without any user interaction. While Natsukashii does the job, it isn't particularly fast. The script goes through the specified directory and all its subdirectories looking for files with the given extension (e.g., JPG). For each photo found, the script extracts its creation date and compares it with the current date. This process takes time and resources. So if you have several thousand photos on your machine, running the script may take awhile. This means that it might be a good idea to set up a cron job that runs the script during the night.

The script not only finds photos from the past (Figure 4), but it also resizes and places them into the www directory and serves the result using PHP's built-in server on the specified port. Remember, though, that you should not rely on Natsukashii's unsophisticated password protection mechanism to protect your personal photos.

Figure 4: Natsukashii displays photos from the past using a simple PHP-generated page.


When it comes to managing your photo collection, it pays to have tools to make the process go as smoothly as possible, and these four custom tools get the job done.

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