Sunday, March 6, 2016

How To Geo-Tag All Your Digital Photos

Last year I discovered how nice it is to have digital pictures tagged with GPS coordinates.  I was experimenting with an iPhone camera and realized that the images were tagged with locations – something I was aware of but had never really thought about.  I liked it.  

If you have an iPhone and want to learn more, just read up on Apple’s geo-tagging feature -- and if this sort of thing bothers you, learn how to disable geo-tagging.

Following the iPhone camera experiments I wanted to be able to get GPS coordinates added to digital pictures shot with cameras that don’t do so automatically.  

While I am happy to use a smart phone for a quick snapshot, when I’m serious about my photos I’m more likely to reach for one of my digital SLRs or perhaps a smaller enthusiast oriented digital camera.  Don’t get me wrong, you can produce wonderful images with smartphone cameras, but with fast moving subjects, or in low light, or when you really want to fiddle with exposure or focus settings to get a particular image with just the right depth of field, you need better tools.

It turns out that the relatively few cameras offer the ability to capture GPS coordinates automatically.  In some cases, you can tack on that feature with an accessory built for your camera.  There are also some really cool Bluetooth add-ons for a few higher end DSLRs that let you tether your camera to a GPS tracking device so that a stream of GPS information is fed to your camera as you shoot and the images get tagged that way.  Even though either of those approaches would work for my DSLRs, it was not going to help me with my other digital cameras. Moreover, I wanted a cheap way to experiment and wasn't inclined to spend what either of these alternatives would cost.

Then I discovered a very inexpensive and flexible way to solve the problem for any digital camera, it’s called gps4cam.  I’m hooked.

While you are shooting pictures you also run a gps tracking app on your smart phone (iPhone and Android versions are available).  Then, when you are done shooting, you grab the tracking information from the phone and run your pictures through a desktop application that uses the tracking information from your phone to tag your photos.
One really nifty part of their system is the way you synchronize your camera to the gps4cam app.  You take a picture of an image displayed on your phone by the app and their software uses the embedded information to figure out how far off your camera clock is from the clock used to generate the gps information. There are a number of different ways to use app, all are very simple.
For the price of a few dollars to buy a smartphone app you can add GPS tagging to all your digital photos. If this is something you are curious about there’s no reason to avoid experimenting.

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