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Simple guide to geotagging pictures

| November 3, 2011 | 0 Comments
If you enjoy travel photography, and shoot many photos while you are out and about, you would probably like to store approximate location where the photo was taken. This usually means that you need invest in expensive specialized GPS receivers suited for digital cameras, or risk a long and tedious process of manually geotagging your images. What if we told you there was a much simpler, more elegant solution* ?

How does it work ?

The overall idea is that you go and take your photos, and leave GPS recording to your phone, tablet or GPS device. Then, when you come home and import your photos to your photo editing software, to automatically add GPS coordinates to your photos from the recorded track on your phone. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds. Besides, we will guide you step-by-step through the process.

Trails icon

Trails

Path Tracking Lite

Path Tracking Lite

Step 1: Preparation

“sync the clocks and get the apps”
For the process to work, you need to have a device capable of recording your GPS coordinates. Nowadays most modern smartphones come equipped with some kind of GPS sensor, and there are a lot of GPS Tracker apps on AppStore and Android Market. Our favorite apps are:

…If you would prefer to use any other app or GPS recording device, you can do so. The only requirement is that the device supports exporting the recorded track to a standard .GPX format. You will need this .gpx file later in the process of geotagging your pictures.

Also, as a part of preparation make sure that:

  • The dates and times (and timezones) are more-less synchronized on your GPS recording device and your camera.
  • If you are using iPhone / Android for GPS recording, that your GPS sensor is enabled (turned on).

Trails Screen

Trails App. Click to enlarge

Step 2: GPS Recording

“record your position to a GPX file”
Ok, so you have arrived on the desired location, batteries charged, and GPS enabled. Time to start recording.

In the case of Trails do the following:

  1. Start the Trails app
  2. Tap on the Tracks, then on the + sign, to add new track
  3. Input the new track name and description, and press save
  4. Tap on the track name, and then in the bottom right option tap on the “start recording
  5. That’s it. Now go and shoot your photos
  6. When you are done, open Trails again, and press “stop recording” in the bottom right
  7. Final step, press option icon in lower left corner, and under export menu, select e-mail, and e-mail the track to yourself

If you are using Path Tracking lite, do the following:

Path Tracking Lite Screen

Path Tracking Lite Screen. Click to enlarge

  1. Start Path Tracking Lite app, and wait for a few sec while it determines your location
  2. Press the option key on your android (sometimes referred as alt), and select “Record Path” option
  3. Wait for a few seconds while GPS zeros in on your location, and make sure it is correct. You will notice that the app started to draw a path
  4. Now, you are ready to shoot your photos.
  5. When you are done, press option key again, and select “Stop Recording”. You will be prompted to input Title and description.
  6. Press option again and select “Show Records”, and then tap and hold on the name of the record you want to use. You will be presented with several options. Select “Send GPX File”
  7. Here you have more options how to transfer GPX file to your computer (i.e. e-mail, dropbox, evernote, bluetooth, etc.)

… If you have done the steps above correctly, you should have photos, as well as GPX file of your recorded path on your computer. Time for the next step…

Step 3: Importing and Geotagging Pictures

“use the GPX file to geoencode the pictures”

Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom


For this step we assume you use Adobe Lightroom for post-processing. There is an excellent Lightroom plug-in called Jeffrey’s “GPS-Support” Geoencoding Plugin for Lightroom. You will find instructions on how to download and install it on the provided link.

Now, all that remains, is to actually take the recorded GPX file, and use it to geotag your photos. (You can click pictures to enlarge them)

Geoencoding picture in Lightroom
Select geocode from Tracklog

2...in te Jeffrey's Lightroom Geoencoding support plug-in, Select the tab titled: "Geoencode from Tracklog", and select your GPX file. Pay special attention to the timezone settings. Press Geoencode Images.

Lightroom photo containing location information

3. That's it. If you have done the above steps correctly, you should get location information in the Geoencoding panel of Metadata. If you click the arrow beside the map...

photo on the map

... you will be able to see the location where your photo was taken

TIP: Please note that the Geoencoding process will only add GPS coordinates to the photo. The sub location fields City, State, Country, etc will not be filled directly. However, of you go to the next tab in the plugin “Reverse Geo”, you would be able to get that information directly from Google maps.

*This article assumes that you do have an iPhone, iPad, or android phone at your disposal for recording your gps position, and that you use Adobe Lightroom to process your photos, however the principles are applicable to other GPS recording devices and photo editing software as well.


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Category: Photo Enthusiast, Photography Tips, Travel Photography

About the Author (Author Profile)

Alan Graf is the editor and founder of Digital Photography Student. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, and is also editor of CRO-Wallpapers.com – a Croatian wallpaper archive, and his own photo gallery at http://www.alangraf.com.

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