For travel photography, geotagging your photos has become fundamental. By geotagging your images, you’ll not only be able to remember the locations once you are back home, but also it will help on searches. If you intend to sell your photos at any time, adding the metadata pertaining to the location into the file is going to improve searches and make your photograph easier to find on the web.
Geotagging is a rather simple process and there are a couple different ways to do it. At the simplest level, you simply attach a GPS data-logger to your camera and the location will be recorded into the EXIF of the photo at the time you take it. That’s it. Now if you own multiple bodies, then you’ll need a different GPS device for each of them.
The other option you have is to get an independent GPS tracker to record the data and then pair it with the photos. As I always carry at least two camera bodies, this is option I utilize. I have tried a couple of loggers and ended up with the Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro. It is small, convenient and pro-rated, and it can be paired with up to five devices at the same time via Bluetooth. Of course there are other options on the market; all you need is to be sure that you’ll be able to obtain and export the recorded tracks from the device.
Working with Lightroom
Something that’s important before you start: to avoid headaches, is to always wise to check your camera clock. It should be set to the actual local time zone in which you are shooting, as once you import the data, Lightroom will try to synchronize the time of the EXIF data from the camera with the time of the recorded data from the GPS logger. If you forget to do this, there is a way to correct it later, but it will be much more seamless if you do it beforehand.
Once you do that, the process is fairly simple and can be done with the following steps.
1) Obtain your GPS file
Export the GPS data from your logger in the format .gpx. This is the standard for these type of files; save them as they can be useful for other applications as well in the future. As an example, in this recent post I have included a detailed map of my trek to illustrate a day in the field.
2) Import your files into Lightroom
Import your files into Lightroom as you normally do and then go to the Map Module.
3) Load your tracklog file
Select all the photos you want to add the GPS information to. This one is a bit tricky – you need to click on a menu down at the bottom close to the icon with the lock. From there, select “Load Tracklog” and navigate to the menu where you saved the file previously.
4) Tag the photos with the GPS information
As soon as you import the file, you’ll see the track loaded into the map. Go to the same menu and select “Auto-Tag XXX Selected Photos.” That’s it – that should do it, and now you’ll also see a bubble over the track that indicates where the photos were taken. At this point the GPS coordinates have already been recorded in Lightroom.
If for any reason you forgot to put the correct time on the camera, you can now adjust it by going to “Set Time Zone Offset” from the same menu you were working.
You can take a look at the photos’ meta data and you’ll find the exact GPS coordinates along with location information. As you can see, this process takes only a minute or two to complete and it is fairly easy.
If you are not already tagging your photos, I hope you can incorporate the process into your workflow soon. I believe it will be important in the long run and you’ll never forget again where that photo was taken, especially in unfamiliar places.