Ohhh thats a nice photo, where was that….

When you like to take photos when you travel, or maybe you even like to just go for a drive and photograph old buildings and barns and such; you need to know where things were.

April 2016 I took a 4,000 mile road trip to the Grand Canyon and back, stopping along the way at many roadside places along the “Mother Road”, Historic Route 66.  I’m not sure if the Grand Canyon was the vacation, or if the Route was….

Summer 2017 was a cruise to the Bahamas, January 2018 another cruise to Jamaica, and Summer 2019 another massive road trip… This time to the Rockies, Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore and all points in-between.

Needless to say, I shoot a lot of photos in places I would not remember where.  This is where having your photos Geotagged comes in handy.

What Is It?

Geotagging is adding the geographic coordinates into the metadata of the photo.  The metadata is saved either as part of the JPG file or as a sidecar file which can be read by most photo editors, and photo sharing sites.

How does it work?

Unless your camera has a built-in GPS – which most DSLRs do not, you have 2 ways to get your GPS location tagged into your photos.

You can buy a specific GPS logger that is made for a camera, like the Canon GP-E2 ($240.00) or a 3rd party GPS logger with mixed reviews for $80.00.  I recently picked up a GPS the connects to the camera for $25.00 – so far so good.

The main advantage of these units is that the GPS location is written to the file in real time when you click the shutter.  The disadvantage of both is that they will take space on your hot shoe and will require a cable to be connected to the USB port of your camera.  I dislike the cable thing as this is a broken port waiting to happen.

The way I used to tag my photos is to use what I already own….. A Garmin GPS; I have a Nuvi 40 driving GPS, and a Venture HC handheld GPS, both will create a track log.  Also you can get apps for you smartphones and tablets that can create the tracklog too; but they will run your battery down.

Keep reading further if you are not using an automatic on-camera method.  If you have a GPS logger that is connected to the camera; just import your photos into lightroom and that is all you need to do.

Doing it the hard way – Setting it all up

I am going to cover how I setup my cameras and the Garmin eTrex Venture HC.  From what I can gather, the Nuvi automatically does tracklogs.

1. Turn on the GPS and
let it get a “fix”
2. Go to the main menu and then Tracks

3. Make sure Track Log is set to ON and then
Go to Setup

You want to have the GPS “writing down” where you are pretty often, “More Often” seems to work good, there is a “most often” and a “normal” setting that we could choose.  Also be sure to have wrap when full and auto turned on.

For the camera we need to make sure that the time on the camera matches the GPS.  You can try to set the clock on the camera to be as close as possible to the GPS time, which will be good enough.  You can also make sure the time on the PC is correct and run EOS utility and click on the time in the utility and have it sync the clock on the cameras (very useful when you have multiple shooters)

Time tips:  If your camera has a time zone setting, make sure it is set right. If you cross into another time zone, you will need to adjust the clock on the camera accordingly through your trip.  It also never hurts to either take a photo of the GPS screen showing the current time, or take a photo with your phone of the same subject…. this way you have reference to the time and can adjust in Lightroom.

Take a “control” photo, this would be a photo of your starting place or a place that you can match up easily.

Now go have fun and shoot!

Now that you are done shooting, let’s go over what you need to do to sync the GPS coordinates.  The process is the same for the eTrex and the Nuvi.

Using Garmin Basecamp, connect the gps to the PC.  Basecamp should import the memory from the GPS automatically leaving you with a screen like this on the left side.

Scroll down until you find the track log that covers the trip.

If multiple logs cover your trip, hold down Ctrl and click on all that apply

Next click on File, go to export and choose export selection.  This will provide a “save as” box, give it a name and select a location to save that you will remember.  I usually have a folder called GPS tracks and save based on date (04082017).

Great!! we have a GPX file  Now what do we do with it?

Let’s open lightroom and import your photos as you normally do.

Next select your “control” photo and click on the map module

Click the Map Menu, choose Tracklog and then Load Tracklog.  Select your track log file from above.

Next, go back to the same menu and choose Auto Tag Photos.

Now, check that photo you tagged, is it the right place on the map?

YES – Continue on with tagging the rest of the photos

NO – Fix what is wrong, likely the time on the camera was off.  Adjust the time by going back to the library module and clicking Metadata and then Edit Capture Time

Going more advanced

The coordinates are nice, but that does not really tell you where the photo was taken in terms of city/state.

Using Jeffrey’s “Geoencoding Support” Plugin for Lightroom you can have the city and state written to the metadata of the file based on the GPS coordinates .