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.
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.
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:
- Flickr’s FAQ page on using the map and geotagging.
- Basic Primer on Flickr’s Map and Geotagging
- Using Flickr’s Organizer to GeoTag
- Flickr’s Help Video on GeoTagging
Picasa 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 Author – Children’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).