Geolocation on your photos

Over the last couple of days I feel like I have been banging my head against a brick wall, in relation to having my photos geo-tagged. The reason that it is a little bit problematic is that I am using iPhoto and I really don’t think that the Places feature is the best that it can be yet. I don’t have a camera which has geo-tagging included. Well that is not strictly true, I do have my iPhone and even my iPad that will add location data to my pictures. So really it is just the DSLR, my Canon Rebel T3i that is lacking the feature, but that is where I want to have my photos Geo tagged.

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Using the iPhone to geo-tag photos

There are two ways of going about this, boIMG 0223th with advantages and disadvantages. What you can do is to make sure that your iPhone has the settings for the photos set to apply the Geo tag. To set this up you have to go into the privacy settings To switch on location services for photos. It took me quite a long time to find this in iOS 6 and I was even surprised to find out that on my phone, it was actually set to off. No wonder I had been having some problems in iPhoto, trying to get it to show the location of photos on the map! So what you can do is to every time you take a photo with your DSLR camera, also take a photo at the same time and place with your iPhone. This could work out a little bit tedious if you’re moving around a lot and I could see that I would quite easily forget to take the iPhone shot on some occasions. Using the same sort of technique you could just take one photograph in the region of where you’re taking your pictures that day or session. So in this situation, you would take one iPhone shot in the town where you’re visiting and use that to give the general whereabouts of all of the photographs that you take all around the town.

Whichever of those two methods that you use, per photo accuracy or a general location for a set of photos, you can set up the geo-tagging of the DSLR shots back in iPhoto. The iPhone shot will be back in iPhoto as soon as you’re back home if you’re using Photo Stream and all you have to do is to match up the iPhone shot with the DSLR shots. Click on the iPhone image and press command C to copy to clipboard, then click on the DSLR shot that you want to have Geo located and in the edit menu you will find Paste Location. So you can see why it could be quite tedious if you’re going for the accurate method with one shot per exact location and photo. If you’re on a walk around a town or if you’re out in the countryside you could have quite a lot of matching up to do.

Using third-party software for geolocation

I have found some third-party photo software called myTracks which will help you automate the process of adding geolocation to your DSLR photos. It has taken me a little while to work out how to use it, as the help files and manual are written by a person that is using English as a second language. It is not that bad actually, in terms of the language, it is probably more that it is describing the software more than it is showing you how to use it. There are a couple of how to videos, but without a voice-over track to explain what is actually happening. I will be remedying that, with some YouTube tutorial videos that you will be able to use to find out how to use this software.

How to use myTracks

You can use the myTracks application with either an extra GPS unit that will export the recorded track of your wanderings. You can also use an iPhone application that will very accurately record your movements. The iPhone myTracks application is a free app on the iTunes App Store. Then what you will need, is to use the myTracks Mac OS X application to use with your recorded GPS data along with your photos. It is possible to synchronise the GPS data from the iPhone into the Mac application. A couple of times the Mac application didn’t see the iPhone to be able to synchronise, so I switched off the synchronisation service on the iPhone and switched it back on again. Hey presto, it worked.

The way that the application works is to match the time settings on your camera with the time settings as recorded with the GPS data. This means that you have to make sure that your camera and iPhone are set to more or less the same time. There are also some settings that you can use to offset the time one way or the other so that it will better match.
Geotagging in iPhoto

Step-by-step using myTracks

  1. When you’re ready to start taking photographs start the application or the GPS device recording your waypoints.
  2. Take all of your photos as you go and when you’re finished, turn off your GPS recording.
  3. Download your photos to your computer, into either iPhoto or Aperture.
  4. Synchronise the GPS data into the myTracks software.
  5. Click on the GPS Track that you want to use.
  6. Select the photos in iPhoto/Aperture then drag them and drop them into the myTracks application. You will see a window pop-up to say that the photos are being imported.
  7. Have the photos selected that you have just imported and click on the button to write the EXIF data.
  8. Go Back into iPhoto and in the Photos menu choose the menu item to Rescan for Location.

Other features of myTracks

There are other features that are available within the myTracks software that I will look at in another article and video. It is possible to do things such as create a track from a pool of photos. Obviously for that to happen you have to have photos that already have location tagging applied. So you could do that with a set of photos you take with your iPhone, for example.

One of the photos I Geo Located with myTracks

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I did use the application on the iPhone and took photos from within the application. Those photos stayed inside the application and didn’t go to the Photo Roll automatically. I was able to get those photos into my computer by other means, I think I did it through iTunes. You get to see little thumbnails of your photos on small pointers within the map in the iOS application.

Overview of geo-locating photographs

I did get quite frustrated with setting it up in the first instance, but once I got going it wasn’t too bad. If you want to do it for free, then you can just use the method of taking an iPhone picture at each point you use your DSLR camera. If you only need a more or less correct location, then you could use one iOS photo to get the data for a whole day’s worth of photos.

There are benefits to having exact locations for every single photo and using the third-party myTracks apps, is without doubt a very good solution. As I said, it is necessary to dive in there and really work out exactly how to use the software. On the other hand, another solution would be to go and buy a camera has already has GPS tracking included within its features.

Now to go back to playing games with my iPad .