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In this post Colin Spencer gives us a good introduction to how to Geotag images. You can see some of Colin’s images here and learn more about him at the conclusion of this article.
I was recently reading about the geotagging of photographs’ and decided that I would investigate it further and if appropriate try it for myself.
Geotagging is the recording of the latitude and longitude of the location where a photograph was taken and then the addition of this data to the EXIF information that was captured by the camera when the photograph was taken. The EXIF data is recorded within the digital image file that the camera records and this data can be read by any suitable software.
There are two ways to Geotag an image, the first is by looking at a map and working out exactly where the photograph was taken and then entering the information manually into the photograph.
The second is to use a GPS to log the location of the photograph and then add that information either automatically or manually to the EXIF data. Some digital cameras are now coming equipped with a GPS to record this data automatically and others allow the fitting of a special GPS receiver to the flash hot shoe and then they communicate the data to the camera usually by an additional cable connection. Alternatively the GPS and camera can be independent and the location data can be added later by software. This is the method I decided to explore.
You will need a GPS that records Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtrack data’, a cable to connect your GPS to your computer and a digital camera and some suitable software. I will detail the software that I used later in this article.
I used an old Garmin GPS12 that I had as a spare hand held GPS from when I had a boat and a Canon EOS 20D.
For this test I just took my camera and a 17-70mm lens and the Garmin GPS. Before I left home I made sure the GPS was working and checked the time that it was displaying from the GPS satellites. I then adjusted the time on my camera to match the GPS time. This is critical to ensure that when a photograph is recorded by the camera that the GPS knows where you are as the software uses the time the photograph was taken to match up with the GPS position at that time. Depending on the settings of your GPS this can cause a problem (more on this later).
As I left home I turned the GPS on and put it in my camera bag. I then put the camera bag in the pannier of my motorcycle. I then went out for a 30km ride and stopped a few times along the way to take some photographs. When I got back home I turned the GPS off.
I downloaded all my photographs onto my PC and then converted them all from RAW to JPEG images. I did no editing to them as this was just a trial to ensure that everything worked. The reason for converting to JPEG is that most of the automatic geotagging software will not tag RAW images and rightly so too I do not want any software writing to my RAW images.
The next job was to download the track data from my GPS. The software that I used was EasyGPS available from http://www.easygps.com/ and it is a free piece of software. I downloaded the track and saved it as a .gpx file which is one of the formats that the geotagging software I used wanted.
Once the track data was saved it was then time to start geotagging. The software that I used for this was GPicSync and that is available free from http://code.google.com/p/gpicsync/. I opened up GPicSync and entered the file locations into the appropriate places as shown here.
I had a problem at this point as mentioned above the track would not sync with the photographs that I had taken as there were no photographs taken within 300 seconds of any of the track points. It took me a while to realise that even though in my GPS setup I had corrected the time to my local time (+2 hours to UTC) the actual track point time recorded by the GPS was the UTC time not the adjusted time. This might be a foible of my Garmin GPS but it is something to be aware of. Once I entered +2 into the UTC offset box the photos and the track points synchronised perfectly.
Something very important to note here is the GPicSync will take a backup of your images before it alters them if you tick the appropriate box as above. By default this box is ticked.
The next screen shot shows GPicSync synchronising the locations and the photographs.
Once GPicSync had finished synchronising the data I pressed the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœview in Google Earth’ button and this is a screenshot of what was displayed.
The route that I took is shown in blue and the photographs that I took are shown as small thumbnails at the location that I took them.
This screenshot shows a zoomed in view of the map with the photographs as larger thumbnails.
To the left hand side of this screenshot there are several blue and white dots. These show the location of photographs taken by other people who have uploaded them by location to Panoramio. The Panoramio website is at http://www.panoramio.com. This next screenshot shows what happens if you click on one of these dots (that become camera icons if you zoom in closer).
GPicSync saves this Google Earth image as a .kml file in the same directory as your photographs so that you can return to this view direct at anytime providing that you have Google Earth installed on your computer. It has also saved the location information and more into the EXIF data of the photograph and this can now be viewed with any EXIF data reader software. I use Photome another free piece of software from http://www.photome.de/. This next screenshot shows Photome displaying the IPTC data from within the EXIF of one of these photographs.
Here it has put meaningful place data as well as the latitude and longitude. This next screenshot shows Photome just displaying the relevant location data in the GPS section of the EXIF data.
Now that your photograph has this data in it if you upload it to Panoramio or Flickr for example they will make use of the location data for the display of where in the world that your photograph was taken. I am sure that other photo sites make use of this data too but these are the two I am familiar with. You could also use the Google Earth file to bore your friends and family with additional information about your photography.
My thanks go out to all the software authors mentioned in this article for their altruism in allowing us to use their software free of charge.
If you wish to contact me about this article please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and include Geotagging as the subject in your email.
Colin Spencer was born in the UK and took early retirement and now live in Spain. He is an amateur photographer and enjoy photographing a variety of subjects – some of his photographs can be seen at http://photos.turnspain.com and a pdf of this geotagging document can be downloaded from http://www.macameraclub.com/Geotagging.pdf.
July 30, 2013 07:19 am
Great article about geotagging images. I have recently launched a large scale site devoted to geotagged images called Where Did You Take That?. www.wheredidyoutakethat.com
The goal of the site is to help photographers and travelers to be able to find great places to take photos, along with details as to how the picture was taken, such as time of day, difficulty to get to the location and other pertinent information.
I hope you check it out and feel free to create an account to test it out.
July 19, 2013 08:42 pm
I have created a simple online app which allows you to geotag jpeg files using Google Maps. Please try it out. I would love some feedback. http://www.aubrett.com/InformationTechnology/Apps/GEOTAG.aspx
October 10, 2012 01:28 am
GPicSync works with gpx files and if one has only CSV, how to convert it ?
October 8, 2012 01:23 pm
Great Article, another alternative is you may want to download and use Picasa by Google. Picasa allows you to place any picture on their maps and associate it with a Geo-Location and writes the information to the EXIF as you have stated above. I find this great for local search and great for photographers who like to Geo-tag their local photographs of landscapes, adding the photo Geo-tags to a website really helps in local search and bumps up the rankings in organic search.
March 23, 2012 06:22 pm
There is an app for the iPhone which allows you to record you location on you phone using its GPS and then geotag the photos on Flickr.
February 1, 2012 08:07 am
Geo tagging seems here to stay. This is a very good idea and certainly something worth looking at. It allows you to find the location of the picture if taken with certain cameras. It has some downsides to it, it will not tell a person what that photo contains that will still need picture recognition but the less obvious problem is that the GPS lat, long is contained in the jpg image itself. Why is it that manufacturers cannot all agree a standard even Exif is not used by every format and some formats use it in a different way from what is laid down in the specification.
Therefore try copying from one format to another image format and you may lose all the header data it would seem. Meta tags seem to act differently. Please can someone agree a standard that ALL images have to use. But yes moving in the right direction if we can incorporate geo tags with other information to help find any one of a million images that we be stored on an average computer in the future or even now.
September 12, 2011 04:38 pm
very interesting. and jetphotosoftware is also a very good and free version software to do geotagging.
For the hardware, if it is certain Nikon, then this Easytagger is the best solution. http://www.photolife.com/blog/?p=3063
July 26, 2011 11:16 pm
Your article is very informative. Thanks for the article. I want more!!! ;)
April 1, 2011 06:54 pm
Hi friends, I just finish of develop http://www.whereisthepicture.com and i think that maybe can be interesting for you.
You can upload a picture with gps information, like photos from iphone, smartphones, etc and then the system show you de position where was maked the picture.
At the moment is only a version beta, but I hope you enjoy it!
January 5, 2011 01:26 am
thanks for the info. I came across this not photography reasons, but for local marketing purposes. I think this is going to matter more and more when companies are trying to improve their local search listings on Google. It another way for Google to verify your real location.
September 22, 2010 09:26 pm
Thanks for this tutorial.
GPicSync works with panoramio.
(The popular Geosetter does not work with Panoramio, you must do a modification in order to work.)
October 15, 2009 03:33 am
I use the Trackstick for Geotagging. It is much smaller than a Garmin GPS and recharges via USB.
August 27, 2009 03:12 am
I use Geosetter for geotagging my pictures, when I don't use Picasa. Geosetter works great most of the times but it is very slow when saving metadata to pictures. Can be found here
May 30, 2009 03:10 am
Now I understand that you are using a Mac so this does not apply to you but Microsoft have a tool that is free from their website called Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, This link for it is http://www.microsoft.com/prophoto/default.aspx . This tool lets me upload the track information from my GPS and then will directly geotag the photos. It also allow editing of the entire EXIF including fields I had previously never seen. It will work with RAW and convert to JPEG or TIFF along with a host of other features.
I think it is really worth having a look at
March 19, 2009 01:19 am
It turns out that my Garmin HCx does save the track logs wonderfully on the MicroSD card. I just throw that track log and the photos into GPSphotolinker and the rest is magic.
I much prefer this solution to a dedicated logger for two reasons. 1) many don't support RAW images (GPSphotolinker does), but mostly because 2) the high sensitivity of the Garmin HCx means that I get a GPS signal in a lot of situations where most GPS devices fail to do so.
My old Garmin eTrex Vista was terrible at getting a signal. I would have to have it on top of a backpack and always exposed. With the HCx I can gave it buried in my pack and it still gets a great signal, even indoors!
March 18, 2009 07:44 pm
GpicSync ? There is a better solution !
I tried Geosetter 3.0.14 (http://www.geosetter.de/en/).
It is far better respect other like GpicSync. Its GUI interface is well done and has a lot of features.
Simply to use, almost nothing to do to configurate it. In a snap all the photo are geotagged using the data from logger unit.
In a word: wonderful freeware !
Danilo - Italy
January 19, 2009 10:19 pm
Sorry about the misformatting. The site is here.
January 19, 2009 10:18 pm
I use my iPhone as a geologger in combination with the GeoLogTag app. I can use it to automatically geotag photos of my Flickr account. If I need to geotag photos on my computer, I use the GPX export functionality of GeoLogTag.
More info about the app can be found .
January 13, 2009 11:55 pm
the by far easiest way is to have a gps enabled camera :o)
My combi: Solmeta DP-GPS N2 with compass and Nikon D300
Solmeta and Dawntech have direct connect photo-GPS for about 15 DSLR from Nikon, Fuji, Canon
Good overview of cameras and gps is found on http://gps-camera.eu/ (in German) but theese guys speak English and French fluently.
November 20, 2008 06:49 pm
A simple web-tool for geotagging images is GeoImgr (www.geoimgr.com).
November 6, 2008 10:05 pm
I would like to include Geotagging into a Digital Surveying tender, but Im not sure how to descibe the service ?
August 12, 2008 09:22 am
I have recently got myself a Nokia 6110, it has in built GPS and found GPSed - www.gpsed.com, it allows you to create tracks on your phone. The output from the app is their own format (GPSED). But you can upload it to their site and download it in GPX format to run through what ever app you find best as their app only handles jpegs.
June 25, 2008 02:22 pm
for geotagging , maybe, you can try the GT-100 i-gotU Travel Logger , its software is excellent, only a few clicks, it will automap your photo with GPS information, Moreover, i-gotU desktop also allows you to export in multiple file formats while integrates with popular web album Picasa & Flickr.
May 29, 2008 02:58 am
Heh, thanks for the tip!
I used my Blackberry Curve (8310) because it has a built-in GPS and loaded some free GPS tracking software onto it (www.bbtracker.org), exported the track, used gpicsync (figuring out that UTC offset can be a pain) and exported a kml file to Google Earth and voila! http://www.flickr.com/photos/mapper-montag/2530814209/
May 25, 2008 08:44 am
There is also a little device called PhotoTrackr Pro. The device records your position and by using the image exif time information, it can determine, within 5 meters, the geo location(utmx, utmy) where the pictures was taken. http://creative-creations.eu/wordpress/interesting-products/
May 24, 2008 05:56 am
Another option for geotagging anywhere there is wireless internet is using a wi-fi sd card (~$129) that creates geotags by using surrounding area wireless networks to pinpoint your location. http://www.eye.fi/products/explore/ Not much help away from civilization but its something to keep in mind.
May 24, 2008 04:02 am
I just ordered the ATP Photologger. According to everything I read, most GPS devices have problems working smoothly with MacOS X. The ATP tags the photos without involving a computer. I am hoping it will work well...
I carry a Lowrance iGo handheld GPS device that I used to use to manually record GPS coordinates of locations where I took an image, (I have reams of notes of GPS coordinates). Kind of cumbersome. My primary reason for getting the photologger is so I can go back to almost the same place to take another photograph - changing seasons, et cetera. I will use the iGo to get to the locations recorded by the Photologger...
I spend a great deal of time alone in the backcountry and will save GPS routes that can be followed if - one day - I don't come back. [I have done this, manually, but it is a pain.]
May 24, 2008 12:06 am
through this site every one will find alot of photo-ready to make an easier work ... www.sexy-mobilegames.com... really it's a beautiful photo for the Geotag Images
May 23, 2008 03:20 pm
I'll second the vote for HoudahGeo on OS X. Not only does it do exactly what this article describes for OS X but it'll write EXIF data to RAW files (and more). :)
May 23, 2008 06:20 am
Another great free piece of software is GeoSetter.
This has the ability to use the XMP-files from Lightroom. This way your original-imagefiles are not altered.
GPicSync corrupted one of my files. Good thing it (and I also ;-) ) made a backup.
GeoSetter has a bit more features also.
By the way, great post :-)
May 23, 2008 04:27 am
I tried to this with my new Garmin eTrex HCx (but different software) and it told me that my GPS wasn't saving time/date data with the track points, so it wouldn't work.
I'm surprised that you didn't run into this on your Garmin, since mine is a very recent model.
Maybe it was a fault with the software, I'll have to try it again.
btw - this idea had ocurred to me a long time ago, and then I wasn't totally surprised to discover that software already existed to do it - http://trancemist.net/blog/index.php?id=1358391427149617198.
Thanks again for posting this.
May 23, 2008 02:43 am
Nice article! I think the time offset is going to be necessary for just about everyone, since GPS time is UTC.
Another piece of software some may find handy is GPSbabel.
I use a cheap datalogger that will give me data only in NMEA format. GPSbabel will convert to GPX for use with gpicsync.
May 23, 2008 12:55 am
There is also SW for Macintoshings:
I download my Wintec WBT-201 GPS Tracks with the free SW "Houdah GPS". Then I put in the lon/lat with "GPS Foto Linker" - Both free to use.
To put together a KMZ file you can either use "Houdah GPS" (It's not free) but I switch to Windows.
I also use GPS Track Analyse:NET on Win. It's great to do some statistic (Not sure if there is a english version, I use a german).
Thanks for the article and for the website itself!
May 23, 2008 12:53 am
There are a couple of good photo-ready GPS units available that make the job easier.
One is the Sony GPS-CS1KASP GPS Unit for around $150.00.
The other is the ATP Photofinder at around $99.99.
Both units make it easy to add the geo-location information to the photos EXIF file.
May 23, 2008 12:25 am
HoudaGeo (http://www.houdah.com/houdahGeo/) is a nice program to geotag your photos on Mac OS X. It reads log files to tag images or you can manually geotag an image using the integrated Google Maps feature.
GPSPhotoLinker (http://oregonstate.edu/~earlyj/gpsphotolinker/) is a similar program for Mac OS X which is free.
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