Loïc Magnien Street Photography Geotagging Photos Workflow 3

Geotagging Photos Workflow

We are in 2017, images are no longer in a paper printed album getting dusty on a shelf, images are in your phone, shared on displays, as you tell your story in a coffee shop to your friends. I am a fan of Geotag when it comes to travel photography, actually, this might be a job conditioning. I appreciate to have my library of picture organised and I love to display my photos on a map when telling my trip stories to my friends.

I recently got myself a compact camera, the perfect companion for travel photography but… this new tool doesn’t include a built-in GPS. This could potentially be a deal breaker for some people like me, however I have been looking for a solution to geotag any image with a simple workflow and for really cheap. This solution will include the following:

The purpose is to use your phone to record a track log of your GPS coordinates into a .GPX file. The file contains the timestamps, latitude, longitude and elevation and its content looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<gpx creator="Geotag Photos http://www.geotagphotos.net/" version="1.0" xmlns="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0 http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0/gpx.xsd">

<trk>
  <name><![CDATA[2017-04-15 - Iceland]]></name>
   <trkseg>
     <trkpt lat="64.162224" lon="-22.011246"><ele>14.201611</ele><time>2017-04-16T09:48:15Z</time></trkpt>
     <trkpt lat="64.158257" lon="-21.995222"><ele>17.870405</ele><time>2017-04-16T09:53:16Z</time></trkpt>
     <trkpt lat="64.152443" lon="-22.029926"><ele>0.587646</ele><time>2017-04-16T09:58:19Z</time></trkpt>
     <trkpt lat="64.154785" lon="-22.011662"><ele>11.566345</ele><time>2017-04-16T10:03:27Z</time></trkpt>
     ...
   </trkseg>
</trk>
</gpx>

I first wanted to investigate a solution including a sport watch which includes a GPS chip like most of the Tomtom or Garmin and export the GPX file but asked my friends about the battery life and it wasn’t holding a day using the GPS mode, they are made for recording runs which are up to 3-4 hours maximum. Another option was a standalone GPS unit but they were too bulky and not 5S at all so I knew I will not carry it with me at all time. Then I realised I was carrying my phone with me at all times… Bingo! I personally tried bunch of apps and the best one is definitely Geotag Photos 2 app as it is the energy efficient with features like standby when the position has not changed between 2 logs or the ability to change the sampling frequency, etc, and the ability to upload the .GPX file to Google Drive. The app is free with a limitation of a single trip track log and you can upgrade for unlimited trips for around £8, definitely worth it!

Once you have your .GPX file you will need a tool to compare the timestamps of your pictures with the timestamps of the track log and apply the GPS coordinates to the EXIF of your picture file. The easiest way is to use Lightroom, you will need to:

  • Import your files into Lightroom as you normally do and go to the Map Module.
  • Select all the photos you want to add the GPS information to.
  • Click on the menu down at the bottom close to the icon with the lock
  • Select “Load Tracklog” choose your .GPX file and follow the pop up.

Your photos are now Geotagged in Lightroom and will be in the exported files, take care about the time stamps if you camera and phone were not set in the same time zone when traveling you can adjust for it in Lightroom. Once you photo is geotagged it will appear on the map, you can still drag and drop the image to change the exact location and update the GPS coordinates of the file. This is a nice feature if you have a sampling period which is longer than the interval between 2 shots at a different location. If you got OCD like me, you’ll spend a couple of minutes correcting these little artefacts.

OK… I can already ear you saying “Arf, I need Lightroom… I am not fortunate enough to afford a professional software which will cost me £120/Year”… And I will tell you that it’s less than £50 for a lifetime licence thanks to this regulation: Directive 2009/24/EC — Articles 4(2) and 5(1) — Exhaustion of the distribution right.  What’s the deal? To make it simple, companies which purchase loads of licences for their employees as packages offers are able to resell the unused ones.