Lightroom Geotagging – trouble and triumph

GeomoteryI did a post last year on Geo-tagging, so I suppose this is an update or a follow-on.
Next week I’m going on a trip to Yorkshire, Swaledale to be precise and I was thinking about accurately recording where I take pictures hence my revitalized interest in Geo tagging.

For those of you with Lightroom 4 you will know that there is a map module that allows you to Geo-tag your pictures. This means that the location of where you take your pictures can be placed on a Google map – an internet connection is required. When using this module you have two options the first being to drag your selected pictures from the filmstrip onto the Google map.This will show the location of where the pictures were taken and also updates the metadata attached to the XMP file for the picture. This method that is great if you have taken a lot of pictures in one place and you know that you are that place is.

There is another alternative method to placing your pictures on a Google map through Lightroom with much more accuracy, but it does require more work! If you are the proud owner of a GPS unit you can copy the GPX file from the GPS unit into a folder which Lightroom can then access. (As an aside it may be possible to extract the .GPX file from your mobile phone for the same purpose). The point of copying the GPX file from your GPS unit is it they contains information about the time and map coordinates where the GPS unit was at any particular time. Lightroom will then use the time information to place the locations where pictures were taken on the Google map. This option is good if you are traveling and you create a track or a track log over where you have been with the GPS so in theory Lightroom can show where you been taking pictures on the map.

All that sounds great if it worked accurately, Lightroom is good at showing the track on a Google map but useless at placing the pictures along the track with any accuracy. To make this system work properly your GPS and camera need to have the time synced accurately to say within five seconds. So if any knows how to get this to work properly please let me know.

As an alternative there is a piece of free software called Geo-setter see http://www.geosetter.de/en/which does exactly the same thing but with 100% accuracy. This involves using Geo-setter to first sync the time and map coordinates. This updated info is saved to the pictures XMP file. Back in Lightroom the metadata needs to be updated by reading the metadata from the file and then to be saved. This places the map coordinates within the file in Lightroom so now it will place the locations of your pictures accurately and hence it will work properly.

The picture above was taken within a couple of miles home yesterday morning, just an empty football field. Is it me am I going mad, I took 69 pictures of goalposts, white lines and shadows – all when the temperature was -3°C. I got home around 9 am for breakfast.

A big hello to all the followers on my little blog this week.

(c) Andy Beel FRPS 2013

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6 responses to Lightroom Geotagging – trouble and triumph

  1. Thanks for bringing this up. I was just alluding to something like that when I posted one of my Gasoline Station photos.I think I am a long way from getting the equipment required. However the interesting thing for me is that I have gone from thinking people were nuts to even worry about this to thinking it might be nifty for some of my work. Go figure….!

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  2. Nigel says:

    Andy. I use a smartphone app called GPS4cam. It uses the GPS chip in your phone to record where you are and when. You then take pictures of a QR code with your DSLR to sync the timestamp on your images with the phone data. Software then adds the coordinates to the exif after you have downloaded the files to your computer. Sounds complicated, but its not. http://gps4cam.com

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  3. Wallace Shackleton says:

    I can not help but ask myself why bother with Geotagging in the first place? Sure it’s one thing to show where the photograph has been taken but it adds another level of complexity to ones workflow that is not really important nor essential to the image in question.
    You may use it to return to the spot to reshoot but your memory must be pretty poor if you need GPS for that.
    Keep up the good work Andy, I enjoy reading your blog.

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  4. An enjoyable read as always Andy. One that has me looking at the use of geo-tagging and whether we need it all. I am still using a pen and paper and marking up my OS maps with various annotations. I suppose I may succumb to setting up geo-tagging in the future, but for now I trust my OS Maps and my trusty notepad. Thanks again for an informative read and have a great week, regards, James

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