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Geotagging your travels: why you should, and how to do it
If you aren't familiar with the term, geotagging refers to embedded GPS data on each image, which can then be read by various photo applications and mapping software. When you take a photo using any existing DSLR, a great deal of "metadata" is embedded onto each image; this data enables individuals to see what aperture, shutter speed, white balance setting and focal length (among other things) were used when a particular shot was composed. These pieces of information are remarkably useful when comparing shots after the fact, and geotagging adds one more vital bit of data to the mix: coordinates. Read on to find out how you can start adding GPS data to your images, and why you should make the effort to do so.
If you aren't in the market for a new point-and-shoot, existing DSLR owners can upgrade their camera to support geotagging. Nikon makes a module of their own that fits certain models (GP-1), and if your camera doesn't have a first-party add-on, Gisteq offers a (mostly) universal solution that connects via Bluetooth (PhotoTrackr Plus and PhotoTrackr Mini).
Once your camera is equipped to embed geotagging data, all you need is a program that'll read that data. Apple's iPhoto (displayed throughout this post) is a great example; any image that you load into iPhoto can be sorted by 'Places.' If you have an Internet connection, you'll see pins populate the map (as shown here) in order to represent all of the locales where photos were taken. Google's Picasa is another solid option, as is the popular Flickr.
What you're left with is an incredibly visual way to look at a trip you recently took, all by way of photographs. In a way, these specific location points tell a story in an of themselves. Rather than simply telling friends and family that a certain group of photos were taken in Montana (for example), geotagging allows them to see exactly what routes you took on a road trip and precisely which trails you skied at Whitefish Mountain Resort. If you took multiple images at a certain place, you can easily sort those by selecting a single pin. The images throughout this article show (most) of the photos I took on my Casio Exilim EX-H20G while in northwestern Montana, including a number of shots while on Big Mountain itself.
On a grander scale, geotagging all of your images for the foreseeable future would enable you to create a lifetime travel map that visually shows where you've been in the world. It's certainly a lot easier than trying to remember every off-the-wall stop you made, and it's most definitely more satisfying than some Bucket List you've generated in Microsoft Word. On a smaller scale, sending your child off to camp with a geotagging camera would allow you to see where all the counselors shuttled your young one around -- after all, kids have a thing for not keeping a very detailed journal, and this would make their job of explaining what all they did a lot easier.
Interested in getting started with geotagging? Listed below are a few recommended GPS-enabled cameras, geotagging add-on dongles and photo applications that work well with geotagged images.
GPS-enabled point-and-shoot cameras:
- Nikon GP-1 (supports D200, D3, D700, D90, D300, or D3X)
- Promote Systems GPS-N-1 (supports Nikon D300, D700, D3, D2X, D2Xs, D2Hs, D200 and Fuji S5 Pro, IS Pro)
- Geomet'r GNC-38 (supports Nikon and Fujifilm DSLRs)
- JOBO GPS001 photoGPS
- Columbus nGPS (supports Nikon and Fujifilm DSLRs)
- Wolverine Geotag GPS receiver (supports Nikon and Fujifilm DSLRs)
- Amod AGL3080 GPS Data Logger (universal Bluetooth solution)
- Eye-Fi Explore / Explore Video (supports SD-enabled cameras)