Introduction to Geotagging Images

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Today Darcy Pattison, gives those of us looking to get into Geotagging images an introduction to the topic.

Geotagging is a process of adding tags to a photograph to locate it on the globe. This is generally done by adding the longitude and latitude to the EXIF (Exchangable Image File Format) metadata of the digital photo. The field of geotagging is literally exploding with new geotag-enabled cameras and smart phones, and software and apps for those hardware options. But the basics remain the same: there are three ways to associate a photograph with a specific location.

Manually

For this option, you need any digital camera, a computer and a photo-sharing program that allows for geotagging, such as Yahoo’s Flickr or Google’s Picasa.

Start by taking a picture that you want to geotag.

FLICKR

flickr-logo.jpg

Create a Flickr account and use the tools of your choice to upload the photograph. My favorite way of geo-tagging is to open the Organizer Map (Log in: At the top, click on Organize >> Map.) Simply drag and drop a picture onto the map where it belongs. You can zoom in as needed to find the specific location. That’s it.

Here are Flickr’s tutorials on Geo-tagging:

PICASA

picasa_logo.gifPicasa has a built in Geotag function.You must also have Google Earth installed, because that’s where it pulls the data from. With a photo open for editing, click on the Geotag Button, which pops up a smaller version of Google Earth. Zoom into the correct location and mark it with the yellow cross-hairs. Click the Geotag button to associate that location with your photo. You can tag files or folders this way. Picasa adds the latitude and longitude to the EXIF GPS Metadata.

For Macs, use the Geotagger program as an add-on to Google Earth. Drag the Geotagger icon to your doc. Open Google Earth and zoom in to the correct location. Drag photo into the Geotagger icon.

Here is Picasa’s Help Video on Geotagging

Separate GPS and Camera

If you have a separate GPS unit, you can sync it to your camera. This route to geotagging is more complicated, but has the potential to be more exact, especially if you are in the wild, away from any landmarks or identifying features in your photos. It is heavily dependent on the software you choose for every step, so be sure you’re familiar with the equipment and software before you start.

To start, refer to owner’s manuals and make sure the clocks on the GPS and camera are in sync. Usually, GPS units or smart-phones have software or apps to create a GPS track or trip, which logs GPS data at regular intervals, such as every 90 seconds. Set up your track and when you start shooting photos, also start the GPS unit.

Back home, download photos to the computer; download the GPS track data to the computer. Now, you need software to sync up the two, such a Google’s Gpicsync, or Geosetter. The software will walk you through the syncing process. As an example, here’s a DPS tutorial on a GPS – photo sync with specific equipment.

Smart Phones and GPS-Enabled Cameras

Now, we’re into easy territory. Smart phones, such as the iPhone3G, are GPS enabled already, as are some new cameras, such as the Ricoh 500SE or the Sony GPS-CS1. If you follow the owner’s manual, the GPS data should be readily available when you download. There’s really just one trick: make sure you allow your photo’s EXIF data to be shared.

For example, if you use Flickr, you must adjust your Privacy Settings. On the bottom navigation, You >>Your Account>>Privacy & Permission>>EXIF Privacy Settings. This should be set to “NO,” you do not want to hide your EXIF data. Then, upload and Flickr will put your geotagged photographs on the map.

However you do it – manually, by syncing GPS and camera, or automatically – geotags are an additional dimension to photographs.

About the AuthorChildren’s book author, Darcy Pattison, has launched The Oliver K. Woodman Mapping Project, which encourages photographers of all ages to take a paper cutout of Oliver K Woodman on their travels and photograph him at landmarks or favorite spots. The key is to geotag the photos and upload them to Oliver’s Group site. Oliver is the main character in Pattison’s books, The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt, paperback available May, 2009) and Searching for Oliver K. Woodman (Harcourt).

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  • James

    What about Nikon’s GP-1? Probably the easiest way to capture GPS Data without any additional leg work…

  • Don’t forget Ipernity.com, which is an alternative sharing website (with a great community of amateur and professionnal photographers), where you can also geotag your pictures (and much much much more !).

  • First off, Gpicsync is not created by Google, only hosted by them.

    Also, there’s a great plugin for Lightroom users by Jeffery Friedl. This integrates nicely with my Garmin Colorado which saves its trackpoint in GPX and is viewable as a USB drive.

  • http://loc.alize.us/ is another easy way to geotag images. Uses a browser bookmarklet.

  • Andrew

    The Sony GPS-CS1 is NOT a camera (as stated above) but a GPS recording device. It is essentially a USB stick that records your location via GPS satellites every x seconds. You can then save these “tracks” to your PC and use software (or manually) add the coordinates to your photographs depending on the time stored in the photographs EXIF data.

    I think Darcy needs to keep writing those children’s books or do some more research before making these elementary mistakes.

  • One application I’ve found to work very well, if you don’t have a GPS handy, or run your own gallery is “GeoSetter”. You can get it from here – http://www.geosetter.de/en/

    You have the ability to type in the address, and sync all the pictures with it.

  • I’ve just recently been turned to Microsoft’s Pro Photo Tools, and it the simplest and cleanest interface for geotagging photos. For me this will replace the Picasa/Google Earth combination which I’ve always found a bit cumbersome. It’s also free. More info here: http://www.microsoft.com/ProPhoto/

  • Thanks for the info. I just updated my map in flickr.

  • I use a Greasemonkey script made by the people at the GeoTagging Flickr group, which allows in page geotagging and then it puts a link under the picture to click and see where it was taken, on a site called http://loc.alize.us

  • Great article and it would be great if more photo’s were geotagged, it’s great to scope a location and see other people’s pics. Just a thought, but the one thing missing seems to be a way of incorperating into image data without flickr or picasa, so that whatever medium the image goes to it has geo – any thoughts anyone?

  • Pros

    My tool for browsing through my geotagged photos is iPhoto ’09 (Mac only). I finally found an easy way to geotag my photos. It used to be a rather labour intensive job.

    I run an app on my iPhone that tracks my location while I (and my kids) take photos. After the shoot when the photos are on my Mac, the same app geotags the photos over WiFi. Then I import the photos in iPhoto and they are shown in Places.
    The app supports Flickr photos in a similar way.

    The app is GeoLogTag and costs just $5.

  • This sounds like a great thing to set up automatically. But one thing – I live out of cell phone range and many of the places I have been and will be shooting are also out of range (on the Oregon Coast). I don’t have a fancy phone because I haven’t had enough of a use for one in this situation. But I was considering getting an Android one day particularly if I start traveling more again. Are there any good apps for this for the Android?

  • Zack Jones

    I have been using a program called RoboGEO for the past couple of years with great success. One feature I especially like about it is the ability to embed the coordinates in your RAW format file. I only shoot in RAW so this is a huge feature for me. You have to have a separate GPS for logging the photos but that’s no big deal for me.

  • If you want a free standalone application, try Geotag. I use it all the time and it does the job very well.

  • If you have an iPhone 3G/3GS, you can use the GPS inside to track your location.
    Take a look at my iPhone app GeoLogTag. It’s a geotagging companion compatible with any digital camera.

  • I’ve researched a few iPhone apps and have determined that PlaceTagger is THE best. And no, I don’t work for anyone. The fact of the matter is, any 3-party iPhone app won’t be seamless since non can work in the background. Oh well. Enjoy.

  • Dear Friends,

    Know that you can locate the exact position where you took a picture on the website http://www.whereisthepicture.com?

    In this new site you only have to upload a photo and if the photo has GPS information in a few seconds on Google maps shows you where the photo was taken.
    When you’ve uploaded the picture, whereisthepicture.com you the ability to send the photo and its location on Google Maps to your friends.

    Once you have located your photo, whereisthepicture.com remove it so that nobody can access it without your consent.

    Hope you like http://www.whereisthepicture.com!

    Greetings to all
    Paco Fernandez

  • Hi all friends,

    I want to leave you know of my new website dedicated to geotagging http://www.whereisthepicture.com

    It’s a new and free service that I created to geotag your pictures and is very intuitive and easy to use and best of all, you do not need to install anything on your computer because everything is done from the web.

    To use it, just upload a picture and if your photo has GPS information whereisthepicture.com shows you, in Google Maps, where the photograph was taken.
    If your photo does not have GPS information, maybe because it’s was taken with a camera old whereisthepicture.com gives you the ability to geotag your own photography.

    Finally, whereisthepicture.com allows you to send your geotagged picture to your friends so they can show where your photo was taken.

    I hope you like!

    regards,
    Paco Fernandez

  • Jeremy Luz

    If you just want a quick and easy way to visualise an image’s location, I would suggest http://www.pic2map.com which actually utilizes EXIF GPS information to map a photo. For photos without GPS data, it can be used as a simple online EXIF viewer, that shows some basic information.

    I hope more cameras start using geotagging like smartphones do…

Some Older Comments

  • Paco Fernandez July 4, 2011 05:49 pm

    Hi all friends,

    I want to leave you know of my new website dedicated to geotagging http://www.whereisthepicture.com

    It's a new and free service that I created to geotag your pictures and is very intuitive and easy to use and best of all, you do not need to install anything on your computer because everything is done from the web.

    To use it, just upload a picture and if your photo has GPS information whereisthepicture.com shows you, in Google Maps, where the photograph was taken.
    If your photo does not have GPS information, maybe because it's was taken with a camera old whereisthepicture.com gives you the ability to geotag your own photography.

    Finally, whereisthepicture.com allows you to send your geotagged picture to your friends so they can show where your photo was taken.

    I hope you like!

    regards,
    Paco Fernandez

  • Paco Fernández April 11, 2011 06:12 pm

    Dear Friends,

    Know that you can locate the exact position where you took a picture on the website http://www.whereisthepicture.com?

    In this new site you only have to upload a photo and if the photo has GPS information in a few seconds on Google maps shows you where the photo was taken.
    When you've uploaded the picture, whereisthepicture.com you the ability to send the photo and its location on Google Maps to your friends.

    Once you have located your photo, whereisthepicture.com remove it so that nobody can access it without your consent.

    Hope you like http://www.whereisthepicture.com!

    Greetings to all
    Paco Fernandez

  • Eric February 19, 2010 05:33 am

    I've researched a few iPhone apps and have determined that PlaceTagger is THE best. And no, I don't work for anyone. The fact of the matter is, any 3-party iPhone app won't be seamless since non can work in the background. Oh well. Enjoy.

  • Galarina August 27, 2009 05:46 pm

    If you have an iPhone 3G/3GS, you can use the GPS inside to track your location.
    Take a look at my iPhone app GeoLogTag. It's a geotagging companion compatible with any digital camera.

  • z-vet June 28, 2009 08:10 am

    If you want a free standalone application, try Geotag. I use it all the time and it does the job very well.

  • Zack Jones June 7, 2009 12:45 am

    I have been using a program called RoboGEO for the past couple of years with great success. One feature I especially like about it is the ability to embed the coordinates in your RAW format file. I only shoot in RAW so this is a huge feature for me. You have to have a separate GPS for logging the photos but that's no big deal for me.

  • Anna June 5, 2009 02:40 am

    This sounds like a great thing to set up automatically. But one thing - I live out of cell phone range and many of the places I have been and will be shooting are also out of range (on the Oregon Coast). I don't have a fancy phone because I haven't had enough of a use for one in this situation. But I was considering getting an Android one day particularly if I start traveling more again. Are there any good apps for this for the Android?

  • Pros May 30, 2009 06:16 pm

    My tool for browsing through my geotagged photos is iPhoto '09 (Mac only). I finally found an easy way to geotag my photos. It used to be a rather labour intensive job.

    I run an app on my iPhone that tracks my location while I (and my kids) take photos. After the shoot when the photos are on my Mac, the same app geotags the photos over WiFi. Then I import the photos in iPhoto and they are shown in Places.
    The app supports Flickr photos in a similar way.

    The app is GeoLogTag and costs just $5.

  • Countrydan May 16, 2009 01:21 pm

    Great article and it would be great if more photo's were geotagged, it's great to scope a location and see other people's pics. Just a thought, but the one thing missing seems to be a way of incorperating into image data without flickr or picasa, so that whatever medium the image goes to it has geo - any thoughts anyone?

  • Samantha Decker May 16, 2009 06:21 am

    I use a Greasemonkey script made by the people at the GeoTagging Flickr group, which allows in page geotagging and then it puts a link under the picture to click and see where it was taken, on a site called http://loc.alize.us

  • LisaNewton May 16, 2009 02:27 am

    Thanks for the info. I just updated my map in flickr.

  • Tyler May 16, 2009 01:53 am

    I've just recently been turned to Microsoft's Pro Photo Tools, and it the simplest and cleanest interface for geotagging photos. For me this will replace the Picasa/Google Earth combination which I've always found a bit cumbersome. It's also free. More info here: http://www.microsoft.com/ProPhoto/

  • Frdprefct May 16, 2009 01:51 am

    One application I've found to work very well, if you don't have a GPS handy, or run your own gallery is "GeoSetter". You can get it from here - http://www.geosetter.de/en/

    You have the ability to type in the address, and sync all the pictures with it.

  • Andrew May 16, 2009 01:39 am

    The Sony GPS-CS1 is NOT a camera (as stated above) but a GPS recording device. It is essentially a USB stick that records your location via GPS satellites every x seconds. You can then save these "tracks" to your PC and use software (or manually) add the coordinates to your photographs depending on the time stored in the photographs EXIF data.

    I think Darcy needs to keep writing those children's books or do some more research before making these elementary mistakes.

  • Son of Groucho May 16, 2009 01:14 am

    http://loc.alize.us/ is another easy way to geotag images. Uses a browser bookmarklet.

  • Jamie Lawrence May 16, 2009 01:08 am

    First off, Gpicsync is not created by Google, only hosted by them.

    Also, there's a great plugin for Lightroom users by Jeffery Friedl. This integrates nicely with my Garmin Colorado which saves its trackpoint in GPX and is viewable as a USB drive.

  • Sophie May 16, 2009 12:48 am

    Don't forget Ipernity.com, which is an alternative sharing website (with a great community of amateur and professionnal photographers), where you can also geotag your pictures (and much much much more !).

  • James May 16, 2009 12:18 am

    What about Nikon's GP-1? Probably the easiest way to capture GPS Data without any additional leg work...

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