Friday, June 11, 2010

Photo Adventures With GPS

You’re probably familiar with the metadata that’s embedded in digital photos—information your camera automatically adds to each image file—such as the time stamp, camera model, lens and camera settings and more for every shot.
By The Editors Published in SLRs
Photo Adventures With GPS
i-gotU GT-120 Travel & Sports Logger
i-gotU GT-120 Travel & Sports Logger: The GT-120 logs location data, then you let the supplied software sync it with the photos and tag the images. The unit is water-resistant, handy for outdoor recreational use.

With any digital camera, you can use a handheld GPS to record location data, then use geotagging software to sync the GPS data to your photos in your computer. Exact details vary from software to software, but basically, you switch on the GPS, make sure it has acquired satellites and is ready to go, then start shooting. When you’re done, open your geotagging software, download the photos from the camera and the tracklog from the GPS, and let the software tag the images. The key here is that your camera’s date and time need to be in sync with your GPS receiver so the software can match the time stamps on your photos to those of your GPS positions.

Nikon GP-1
Attach the GP-1 to a compatible Nikon DSLR, and it will automatically geotag your images as you shoot them. Data includes latitude, longitude and altitude.

The most labor-intensive way to geotag your photos has the advantage of working with any GPS unit that has a display panel, and any digital camera: Each time you take a photo, photograph the screen of the GPS to record the location data. Then, when you get home, manually enter that data in the EXIF metadata for the image in your computer—no special software required.

Some geotagging software lets you assign a location to an image by navigating to the location where you took it on a map. This is best done when you originally download the photos, of course, and can remember where you shot them.

Jobo photoGPS
This shoe-mount geotagger records location data as you shoot, but doesn’t attach it to the images. That’s done in-computer via provided software and an Internet connection to the photoGPS web server. The appended data includes latitude, longitude and height, and reverse geocoding can translate that to address data (country, city, street, even nearby points of interest).


  • Switch the GPS on and let it acquire the satellites before starting to take photos. This could take up to several minutes with some units, depending on satellite alignment and various other conditions.
  • The GPS unit must be able to “see” the satellites to operate, so you must carry or mount it so it can see them continuously. The system won’t record tagging data if the GPS loses satellites or goes to sleep. Your camera strap is a good place for a geotagger; your pocket isn’t.
  • ome shoe-mount GPS units use their own batteries, while others use the camera’s battery. If you have only one camera battery, you may want to get a GPS unit that uses its own batteries. Also, if the camera enters sleep mode, a camera-powered GPS will power down and have to reacquire satellites when you rouse it.

  • Apple Aperture 3
    This newest version of Apple’s imaging software includes a Places feature that can read location data, use reverse geocoding to translate it into actual location names, and display the images on a map.

  • Some geotagging units are compatible with a wide range of cameras, while others are dedicated to specific models (Nikon’s GP-1, for example, is compatible with many—but not all—Nikon cameras). Make sure the GPS accessory you’re considering is compatible with your camera.

  • Some geotagging units come with software. There also are a number of geotagging software applications on the market that can use data from just about any GPS.

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