PhotographySoftware

Geotagging without GPS connected to camera

 

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]eople ask me frequently how I do geotag the photos I do feature on my webpages such as pbase or flickr, especially without having a GPS receiver directly connected to the camera.

What is geotagging?
Geotagging is inserting the geographical position where a photograph was taken to the EXIF information within the digital photo captured by the camera. Websites such as pbase or flickr as well as many tools do read out these values to display such a geotagged photo on a map.

How are photos geotagged?
The easiest way to geotag a photo is using a camera connected to a GPS where the camera will automatically write the geographical position to each captured photo. Some digital cameras do offer a built-in GPS receiver for this purpose. Manufacturers do also offer GPS receivers to be mounted to the flash hot shoe and will communicate with the camera over an additional cable connection. But what if you do already have a GPS receiver or use more than one camera? Geotagging photos is possible without connecting a GPS receiver to the camera, this is what I am going to describe in this article.

What equipment is needed?
Apart from a computer and a digital camera, a GPS receiver is required which is able to save the track data together with time stamps. Older Garmin units such as the Garmin Vista do save the track data but in order to save memory, without the time stamps making them useless for this purpose. Personally, I am now using a Garmin Vista HCx.

How do I use it?
Before taking the first photo, as the camera is not connected to the GPS receiver, I have to make sure I set the date and time correctly on the camera. This is the most important step as the time the photo was taken is the link to find the position recorded by the GPS receiver. Once this is done, I can put the GPS receiver in the backpack and do not need to worry about. It will record the whole track as long as the battery permits, which is around 20 hours on the Vista HCx.

Once back home, I copy the photos from the cameras onto the computer as well as the saved track data files from the GPS receiver. There is a bunch of software to geotag photos; after testing a few, I finally selected the free GeoSetter which provides a pretty intuitive user interface, the possibility to not only geotag the photos with the geographic position but also including country, state, province and city into the IPTC keywords and it supports a wide range of image formats, including RAW file.

GeoSetter

When travelling, I do generally use two cameras to limit swapping the lenses. The use of the software solution to link the photos to the GPS position works perfectly for me.

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Dominique Schreckling
Dominique Schreckling Administrator
IPA Staff ID: 06617 • I live in the french speaking part of Switzerland, near Lake Geneva. I am a freelance photojournalist focusing mainly on events photography (music festivals, sports events and trade shows) and travel photography. An overview of my photographic work over the last few years can be seen under www.bydoms.com.
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Dominique Schreckling
Dominique Schreckling Administrator
IPA Staff ID: 06617 • I live in the french speaking part of Switzerland, near Lake Geneva. I am a freelance photojournalist focusing mainly on events photography (music festivals, sports events and trade shows) and travel photography. An overview of my photographic work over the last few years can be seen under www.bydoms.com.
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