Rotate photos to be upright

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While taking photos is fun, spending time rotating photos manually can be a chore.

EXIF orientation solves this.


EXIF data is useful information about a JPEG image, hidden inside the file.

When images are photographed, digital cameras use orientation sensors to store an EXIF orientation value for how the camera is held. There are 8 possible values (not just landscape and portrait!). The EXIF orientation value permits automatic rotating of the photo, saving you a manual task.

When you upload images to your Sirv account, it reads the EXIF orientation and auto-rotates photos to the correct position. This handy feature is a great time-saver but it relies on the EXIF orientation field being accurate.

Incorrect EXIF orientation

If an image contains the wrong EXIF orientation, Sirv will auto-rotate the photo to the wrong position. For example, a landscape image could be shown in portrait.

This rare scenario can occur if your image editing software doesn't correctly update the orientation during image editing. Photoshop, ACDSee, Picasa, GIMP, OSX Preview and other image professional editing programs all correctly update EXIF orientation when you rotate or flip an image. However, some programs don't. Problem programs include:

  • Windows Photo Viewer
  • Microsoft Paint
  • Microsoft Office Picture Manager

Fixing image orientation

Two solutions can fix this issue.

  • Correct the EXIF orientation - open the image(s) in a Photoshop or another program and then export them. Then reupload the images to Sirv.
  • Rotate images with Sirv - alternatively, you can leave the images as they are and use Sirv rotation options whenever you display the images.

Ideally you should fix the source file by fixing the EXIF value. However, if you're in a hurry, it may be quicker to use Sirv image rotation. Let's look at that first.

Rotate images with Sirv

The rotate option in Sirv can be applied either in the URL or in a profile.

The example below adds ?rotate=90 to the URL to rotate it 90 degrees:

Photo without Sirv rotation    Photo with Sirv rotation

URL of rotated image:

If your 360 spin is incorrectly oriented, Sirv can rotate an entire 360 spinning image in one go. Right-click the spin file in your account and choose "Edit". Go to Images > Main Images > Effects and set "Rotate" to 90. Like this:

rotate option

View and edit EXIF orientation

To fix EXIF orientation:

  1. Open the images in a program on your computer that supports EXIF orientation. Photoshop, Gimp, Picasa, Preview (Mac) and many other good photo programs support EXIF.
  2. Rotate the images to the correct orientation.
  3. Save the images in high quality (we recommend 92% JPEG quality or higher).
  4. Upload the fixed images to Sirv.

Next, we share a number of programs that you can use for viewing and editing EXIF. They'll also let you edit other types of image metadata - IPTC and XMP data - which can help protect your images with copyright information.

Windows EXIF programs

ExifPro allows you to view EXIF orientation information and rotate images through 90° intervals:

EXIF Pro screenshot

Zoner Photo Editor is a photo organizer and editor with an image information feature for viewing EXIF orientation. Professional and free versions are available:

Zoner Photo Editor EXIF screenshot

Exiftool is a Perl library/command-line application allowing you to read and edit meta information in images. A standalone Windows executable is provided if you prefer not to use Perl:

Exiftool orientation screenshot

Mac EXIF program

Mac OS lets you quickly check the EXIF orientation in Preview. Open an image and press CMD+I to view the images properties.

Mac Preview EXIF orientation screenshotLinux EXIF program

On Linux, use Image Magick (which is usually pre-installed) to get EXIF info. Get the location of the image on your computer then enter this command in the console:

-identify -verbose enter/your/image/location-here.jpg | grep Orientation

It will output a result like this:

Linux EXIF orientation screenshot

EXIF orientation values

There are 8 possible EXIF orientation values, numbered 1 to 8.

  1. 0 degrees - the correct orientation, no adjustment is required.
  2. 0 degrees, mirrored - image has been flipped back-to-front.
  3. 180 degrees - image is upside down.
  4. 180 degrees, mirrored - image is upside down and flipped back-to-front.
  5. 90 degrees - image is on its side.
  6. 90 degrees, mirrored - image is on its side and flipped back-to-front.
  7. 270 degrees - image is on its far side.
  8. 270 degrees, mirrored - image is on its far side and flipped back-to-front.

Here's how the 8 possible EXIF values look for the letter F (credit to Dave Perrett for this image):

EXIF orientation values

In the 7 scenarios - 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 - the image orientation will be automatically fixed by Sirv.

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