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PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:23 pm 
Hi CL folks:

As promised, here is the tutorial for geo-tagging pictures with an external GPS unit. This is the very first tutorial I ever write, so please take it easy. Enjoy.

I quickly found out that geotagging is a fascinanting feature of digital photography. Why? For an amateur photographer like myself, the fact that you can place your pictures on maps with great precision, trace your journey on a certain foreign landscape with a combination of blog text, pictures and GPS coordinates offers the reader (and yourself later for your own memories) a complete experience of the journeys you have done. I now have thousands of geotagged photos on my photo library and seeing those trips through maps/images is always fascinating to me.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to geotag images by using an external GPS unit. There are lots and lots of software you can use for this purpose, so writing a guide to each one individually is out of the question. However, most GPS editors incorporate the features I will describe here, so I don’t think you’ll have a problem.

How to choose a GPS unit

I use a Garmin Oregon 300 GPS unit. I hike a lot on the Swiss alps, so an external GPS unit is very useful for me for land navigation. You do not need a sophisticated GPS unit, though. You need only a GPS device that can track your path and be able to export it on .gpx format.
You can use a GPS-enabled cellphone if you want to, but cellphones have a problem: battery life. If I set my iphone (with a third-party) application to track my path, the battery will be gone in about 3 hours. This is of course a thing to consider if you are going to do long trips. Now, let’s get to the hands-on part!

I. Preparing to geotag

When you go outside to enjoy the wonders of nature, take you photo camera with you and your GPS unit. The first thing you will do once you reach the start of your journey, is to turn on the GPS unit. Wait for it to acquire a satellite signal with acceptable accuracy. Something between 30-7 meters is OK, though this really depends on the accuracy of your own GPS unit and the current conditions. Once you have locked-on a GPS signal, take your camera and take a picture of your GPS. The GPS screen should be displaying the coordinates. That’s it, put the GPS back on your pocket, and start your journey and take as many pictures as you want. Easy, right?

II. Post production

The last thing you want to do is to geotag your pictures. So once you get back to your computer, load the photos, do some post-processing, watermark them, execute your workflow as you always do, and once you are done, follow these steps to geotag your images.

The software I use is called PhotoGPSEditor (http://www.mmisoftware.co.uk/pages/photogpseditor.html). It is a free GPS tool for Mac. This particular software is not available for PC, but there are other free geotagging apps out there, just Google it.

Your GPS captures your trip by recording GPS coordinates every certain period of time. For example, my Garmin Oregon 300 records the current latitude, longitude and altitude every 30 seconds. Each GPS record is accompanied by a timestamp. The trick is matching these timestamps with the timestamps of your digital images. We could do that manually, but if you went out in the wilderness and took 800 images, the task can be daunting, right? Software like Photo GPS Editor allows us to automate this timestamp matching with great precision. It just needs one hint from us to do it. Remember that first picture you took of your GPS unit at the beginning of the trip? This is the point at which that photo becomes useful. By having a picture with the exact GPS coordinates (the beginning image of your photo-shoot, let’s say), the application can calculate the offset (difference) between your camera’s time and the GPS’s time and apply that difference to all the images you took. Ready to try it out?

Step 1:
Once you open the program, the first screen will present you with the option to begin the process, or enter the advanced mode. Click on “Start“.
Image

Step 2:
On step 2, you need to load your photos to the program. Click on the button “Load Photos“ and search for the corresponding files. Remember that you should do the geotagging process after doing post-processing. Once you select the files, the filenames should appear on the left-hand side frame. Click on the “Next“ button.
Image

Step 3:
Here, you have to load the .gpx file the comes out of your GPS unit. In case of my GPS unit, I just plug it to my computer with a USB cable and it is recognized as an external storage drive. Depending on your particular GPS unit, you might need proprietary software to export the recorded path to a gpx file. Click on the “Load GPS file“ button and search for your .gpx file. Once you select it, you will see a bunch of track points listed on the screen. Click on the “Next“ button.
Image

Step 4:
On the next screen, click on the “Offset by lat/lon“ button. PhotoGPSEditor offers three ways to offset the time differences between your GPS unit’s recorded time and your camera’s, but the most exact one of to do it by lat/lon.
Image

Step 5:
Now, here comes the magic. On the “Pictures“ pane on the left-hand side of the screen, look for the picture you took of you GPS unit at the beginning of the trip. Now, open up that file with you favorite picture viewer. Note the listed GPS coordinated. Back on the PhotoGPSEdit, write these coordinates on the “Known lat/lon for picture“ text fields. Remember to click the “Deg/Min“ button. Once you gave in the coordinates, click the “Offset“ button. Click the “Next button“.
Image

Step 6:
Click the “Apply to all photos“ now. This will propagate the offset of time/coordinates to the rest of the pictures you selected on step 2. Click “Next“ button.
Image

Step 7:
Here you can add some descriptions, comments for the pictures. Click the “Next“ button.
Image

Step 8:
Click the “Save Photos“ button. PhotoGPSEditor will ask you for a folder to save the pictures with the geotags. The software will NOT overwrite your existing files, it will instead create copies of your pictures with the added GPS information. So select a folder to save these geo-tagged copies and wait until the program finishes copying the modified files. Once this is done, quit the application.
Image

As you can see on the next picture, the photo is properly geotagged (even with altitude information!).
Image

Though there are other ways to geotag pictures (like taking a corresponding picture with your iphone), this is the best way I have found to geotag lots and lots of pictures, with only the minimum effort of taking a picture of your GPS at the beginning of your trip.
So now, get out there onto the wilderness, start taking pictures, and enjoy the great feature of having precise GPS coordinated added to them!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:45 pm 
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Location: Paris, London
I am so going to have to get a similar gadget:)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:43 pm 
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Thanks murdockcrc, great tutorial! Consider it stickied!

PS - if anyone has any other tips on geo-tagging, please feel free to add them here...


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:55 pm 
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thank you kindly murdockcrc :D

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 5:48 am 
Thanks for the information,but i usually just use my Blackberry.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:48 am 
Great trick, I know a few friends that will love this.
What I do is use my iPHONE. with iphoto very easy and free.

I admire the time you put into this tut, it's really great and well explained.

2 thumbs up buddy amigo


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:52 am 
Thanks buddy, I'm glad you liked it.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 4:37 pm 
Hey guys, thank you so much for the guide, however i'm stuck on trying to load the .gpx file. I connect my camera and browse the devices but cannot find any file ending in .gpx. If anyone has some experience with this camera and could help me out that would be great :)
Thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:17 pm 
Hi Sinbad,

The camera will not produce any gpx files. Those files come out of your GPS device.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:31 pm 
Oh right, do you have experience with this camera? or know how i can get the gpx file?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 6:07 pm 
Hi,

I don't know what camera you are using, but in any case, I only have experience with Garmin GPS devices and the iphone as GPS.

This tutorial is useful with whatever GPS unit that can track your path and export the information to a .gpx file. Naturally, the process of exporting the location information to gpx files varies from device to device. Check your product's documentation to see if it supports exporting location data to gpx files.

Kind regards
Luis


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:38 am 
I agree. Geotagging is really fantastic. I already have a gadget –Eztag GPS with my D5000. Took so many photos that with geo info inside. Cool!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:20 pm 
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Seeing I just replaced a lost GPS unit earlier this week I decided to play around with some new Geotagging softwear for PCs.

The two I have found that worked best so far are Geosetter and Mocrosoft Pro Photo Tools. Geosetter right now seems to be more intutive and easier to learn but I have only played with both for a few days. The map on Geosetter uses Google Maps as well whereas Microsoft Pro Photo Tools uses Bing so my nod right now definately goes to Geosetter.

I also thought long and hard about what GPS to buy and after much searching I decided to go with the same model I had previously... the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx. I know it came out in 2006 so it is an older model but the newer version put out in 2010 doesn`t have a lot of improvements and seeing that the 60CSx now sells for only $220.00 compared to $420.00 for the newer version it makes sense to stick with it. Its a great time to pick up the 60CSx as the price has dropped by over $200.00 since the newer release and it still ranks as one of the best portable units out there.

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Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Pelican // Black Rapid // Think Tank // Manfrotto // Garmin

Reflections On Canadian Wildlife
My Flickr


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:27 pm 
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I still use a 60CSx - works very well!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:47 pm 
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Just thought I would add that when I got my new GPS last week I also updated my map to a Canada Topographic Map. With that I got a program called BaseCamp which makes geotagging your images about as easy as can be if you are using a Garmin device.

One thing I find mindboggling is that the map is just over 5 gigs in size. I specifically ordered a 4 gig card thinking it would be good enough not knowing how big it was in advance. I then bought an 8 gig card. When I tried to install the map it said the Garmin install program would only allow a max of 4 gigs to be installed no matter the size of the card.... makes no sense to me to have a 5+ gig map and not be allowed to install it in its entirety.

_________________
Canon 7D + 50D + EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM + EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Pelican // Black Rapid // Think Tank // Manfrotto // Garmin

Reflections On Canadian Wildlife
My Flickr


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