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cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO

GPS tagging

Is anybody doing any GPS tagging of their images?
I just bought a Garmin GPSMap 76CS, and want to tag my images. Ideally, I would like to just make sure that my camera clock is correct, and then when I get home, match up image times with the closest trackpoint from the info downloaded from the GPS, and then insert the LAT/LONG into the EXIF of the picture.
I did some googling, but am not having a lot of luck.
Even something that will dump the trackpoints into a CSV that I can parse myself would be helpful.
If I find anything interesting myself, I'll post it here.



cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO

Guess I didn't Google enough. I found this:
»www.robogeo.com/home/
I'll try out the demo version and see how it works.



jvmorris
I Am The Man Who Was Not There.
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-03
Reston, VA
kudos:1
reply to cwnorris

I've got more than a passing interest in this subject myself, so please do come back later and update the thread to let us know how well this works.

I've been following the GPS integrated with an FRS walkie-talkie for some time (still incredibly expensive). I think my interests are a bit different than yours, however, in that I also want to be able to locate other members of a group who may have separated, each to do their own thing.

Still, the concept of being able to precisely identify (at least to myself) exactly where and when a photo was taken is an extremely appealing idea. From a photographic perspective, it's largely a matter (to me) of being able to return to some spot in the wilderness at a different season or different time of day.

I think of this primarily as something for personal use, not necessarily publication. For decades, there have been outdoor photographers (and even backpackers with a point and shoot) that really won't tell you where they took a particular picture, if only to keep the location from being published and then overrun by others trekking off to the same spot to 'reproduce' the photo. They worry about too many people beating a path into some fragile wilderness and too many spike holes from tripods and campsites being set up by people who don't quite understand the 'leave no trace' philosophy.

For that matter, I think I have a certain 'thrill of the hunt' feeling when I stumble across a spot from which some incredible photo was taken by someone in the past. But even then, I tend to think in terms of taking my picture from a slightly different vantage point and perhaps at a different season or just time of day.
--
Regards, Joseph V. Morris



cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO

My interest is mainly documenting where photos were taken, on a drive or a hike, or whatever.
I am too lazy to keep a log as I shoot, and when I get home and want to look at and share the photos, I am sometimes lost. I also think it would be nice to be able to have a link along with the photo, that leads to an online map, or possibly another image with the trackpoints of your trip.
I think with outdoor and landscape shots, it's nice to provide an exact location, as maybe someone else who sees your photo may want to visit the spot, and having GPS info in the EXIF makes that very easy (at least finding the spot). I can imagine all sorts of neat ways to make an online representation of a trip or outing, and the LAT/LONG/ALTITUDE information would be a great addition.

I have found one problem with the robogeo software, and that is that it wants a COM connection, and doesn't seem to work with USB. One way to get around that is to use G7ToWin to download the GPS info from the unit, then import that into robogeo.
G7ToWin works very nicely, and robogeo seems to import the file just fine. I will have to wander around tonight and take some photos and see how it all works.



jvmorris
I Am The Man Who Was Not There.
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-03
Reston, VA
kudos:1

1 edit

said by cwnorris:
. . . I am too lazy to keep a log as I shoot, and when I get home and want to look at and share the photos, I am sometimes lost.
Yes, I can certainly relate to that!
quote:
I also think it would be nice to be able to have a link along with the photo, that leads to an online map, or possibly another image with the trackpoints of your trip.
There's been more than one occasion on which I've followed an animal trace rather than a marked path to some location. A few years later, that GPS route can be essential if you yourself want to revisit the location.
quote:
I think with outdoor and landscape shots, it's nice to provide an exact location, as maybe someone else who sees your photo may want to visit the spot, and having GPS info in the EXIF makes that very easy (at least finding the spot).
Just don't become a famous photographer, okay? I think it was Galen Rowell in the early years of becoming known who used to identify his shooting locations. Years later, when he went back again, he was disgusted to find eroded paths, trashy campsites, and the spikes where dozens of others had set their tripods up on exactly the same site (presuming, of course, that Galen was actually standing on the ground, which was not always so).
quote:
I can imagine all sorts of neat ways to make an online representation of a trip or outing, and the LAT/LONG/ALTITUDE information would be a great addition.

Oh, you most assuredly can! Let me see if I can find the URL for the journey along the Southwest Coastal Trail in Cornwall, England that I at least got to see part of last September -- one of the best documented sites I've ever seen. Unfortunately, the Brits don't seem to have the inexpensive GPS-based topo maps that we here in the States tend to take for granted, it seems.
. . .

Addendum Okay, here's the English website that you may want to take a look at. I think there's probably ten to twenty years of work involved there and with inputs from more than one person. Check »www.jbutler.org.uk/e2e/sccp/index.shtml . It's a very British style; care to show the Brits how an American would do it?
--
Regards,
Joseph V. Morris


SandShark
Long may you run
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-23
Santa Fe, TX
kudos:3
reply to cwnorris

Have either one of you heard of The Degree Confluence Project?



jvmorris
I Am The Man Who Was Not There.
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-03
Reston, VA
kudos:1

There seem to be a general lack of shots in which the photographer is treading water and fighting off sharks!

(But I'm still bookmarking the site.)
--
Regards, Joseph V. Morris



SandShark
Long may you run
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-23
Santa Fe, TX
kudos:3

LOL - Actually, several photographers got the shots, but the sharks ended up eating the cameras, or the photographers, or both.



jvmorris
I Am The Man Who Was Not There.
Premium,MVM
join:2001-04-03
Reston, VA
kudos:1

You've got me thinking now. . . Let's see, there are roughly 365 sunrises and 365 sunsets each year, hmmm , . . .
--
Regards, Joseph V. Morris



cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO
reply to jvmorris

said by jvmorris:

Just don't become a famous photographer, okay?

I don't think there's any danger of that happening!
said by jvmorris:

Addendum Okay, here's the English website that you may want to take a look at.

That looks like quite a project. I imagine that's a lot of work, for as long as the trail is.
said by SandShark:

Have either one of you heard of The Degree Confluence Project?

Looks like all the ones near me have already been documented. I'll have to keep it in mind if I do any travelling.

I drove around town and took a few pictures.
Here is an image of my route:

Route

And here's one picture I took heading West on 17th at Hover, with the GPS inserted into the EXIF.

Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL
55mm 1/1600th F5.6 ISO100


One problem with the robogeo is that the demo version purposely inserts inaccurate GPS info into the EXIF. I have a slight problem with this, as the one thing the software is supposed to do is crippled. I want to make sure that it actually inserts the data properly before buying it, and the author has made that impossible. I will send him an email about that, and the lack of USB support.
Here's a link to the correct GPS info (straight from my GPS unit) at MapQuest, looks pretty close:
»www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?la···105.1303

I had the trackpoints set at one per minute, which won't work well for driving speeds, but should be fine for walking speeds.
So, it looks fairly painless to get the info into the EXIF, now to get the info out easily for display in my gallery, and figure out exactly how to use it best.

Can somebody else see if they can view the GPS data from the picture above? I'm not sure what applications will include the GPS info in the EXIF output, but it's part of the EXIF spec, so it shouldn't be too rare.


fourboxers
Co-Lead Mod
join:2003-05-04
Toronto, ON
reply to cwnorris

I get this from Exifer


SandShark
Long may you run
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-23
Santa Fe, TX
kudos:3

Same thing in Photoshop.


cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO

Cool! Thanks for checking, guys.
Now to get that Canon 17-40 lens for those wide landscape shots, and I'll be set.
I'll still keep looking for other software for inserting info into/extracting out of EXIF, and if I find something good, I'll post here.



cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO
reply to cwnorris

While looking around, I found this application:
»www.stuffware.co.uk/photostudio/
Looks pretty nice, although given his cautionary notes, it would be wise to be careful with it.
You can see all kinds of info about your images, and insert/modify EXIF info.



viofam
Premium
join:2001-07-17
Clarksville, TN

1 edit
reply to SandShark

Thanks for posting this SandShark!



SandShark
Long may you run
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-23
Santa Fe, TX
kudos:3

You bet!



overhill
Judd
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-03
Miami, FL
reply to cwnorris

This is a great thread. I really think that the ability to include GPS coordinates in the EXIF data is a cool feature. Future image management software could show a map of the world where you can locate photographs by zooming in on specific regions. I would love to see something like that. I have a simple Garmin eTrex GPS now, but I am sure that someday I'll upgrade to a fancier unit. Keep me informed if you ever come across any additional software that allows you to easily add GPS coordinates to EXIF data.
--
Team Ecology: "Mapping and clicking for the Earth!!"



turbonium
Premium
join:2001-06-03
San Jose, CA
reply to cwnorris

The best example of GPS tagging of photos has to be the California Coastal Records project.

»www.californiacoastline.org/

Kenneth Adelman photographed the California coastline from a helicopter with a Nikon camera hooked up to the aircraft's GPS unit.
--
"Who is the boss of you? Me! I am the boss of you!"Mir Yannick, The Grand Inquisitor of Zork



cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO
reply to cwnorris

Well, I have done some more looking around, and a little testing, and I have come to a few conclusions. I'll just concentrate on inserting the GPS data into the EXIF header, and not worry about extracting them. There seems to be a myriad of methods of extracting the information, depending on the method of displaying the images (local computer, web site, etc).
Many image applications will read the GPS EXIF information correctly, a lot of them are free:
Exifer is free, and will read EXIF information, although it's display of GPS information seems truncated (it may be adhering more strictly to the EXIF standards than other applications).
Photo Studio is free, and will display EXIF, and read and write GPS data (from a file) into EXIF, although it doesn't seem to write the altitude info.

To insert GPS data easily, my main goal was to have one application that could interface directly with my GPS unit, download the trackpoints, and then insert the data into the correct image, based on trackpoint time and image time.
The only software I found to do this is RoboGEO.
The main problem with it is that I need a serial cable to download the data from the GPS unit. A workaround is to use G7ToWin to download the data to a file, and then import the file into robogeo. This works, but I would like to eliminate the extra step, and have emailed the author to see if he can add USB support. It shouldn't be too hard, the free G7ToWin does it.

Another thing to consider is what format you use when inserting GPS data. The latitude and longitude fields are of the RATIONAL type. If I remember correctly, I saved my coordinates in G7ToWin as DD.MM.SS, which may be why they are displayed differently by software packages, such as Exifer. The coordinates can also be represented by a decimal number, as they are in my mapquest link in the post above. That would seem to match the rational data type, so maybe that is the way to do it. I don't know if there is a way to specify that when you download directly from the GPS unit into something like robogeo or not. More testing is needed there. Hmmm... Looking at this Robogeo page, the coordinates are in decimal form, perhaps it converts them automatically.

Just some miscellaneous things I have run across:
For those just wanting to view/edit EXIF data, there is also a command line tool, EXIFUtils. It allows reading/editing of almost all the fields. They have binaries for quite a few platforms, and the price is only $18.50.

Jhead, used with quite a few web servers to read EXIF data, only reads a very small subset of the fields. I use this in my gallery, so that won't work.

As I understand it, PHP now can read EXIF fields itself, but I don't know how well it works. I also ran across this PHP script, that does seem to read the GPS data from EXIF, and this PHP library as well. Oh, and another PHP library.

For ASP web servers, I ran across this ASP component. I don't have a IIS webserver that I can test on, so I won't test it.

Apart from the GPS info, I ran across this blog which deals more with using EXIF to search through images.



cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO
reply to cwnorris

Well, I got an email back from Tim, the author of Robogeo, in which he confirms that Robogeo needs a COM port connection to interface with a GPS unit. I had asked him if planned on adding USB support, and he didn't answer that question, so I will assume the answer is no.
It's only $22.95 for Robogeo, but I don't know if I want to spend the money if I also have to purchase a serial cable to get data directly from my GPS unit. Photo Studio is free, and does almost the same thing, except import the altitude data.
More testing and googling are in store, I think.



cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO

1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to cwnorris

I'm just going to keep rambling here, and some of this doesn't have much to do with photography, but...

I got to thinking that maybe downloading the GPS data to a file was not a bad idea anyway.
Beyond tagging photos, maybe I want to share my waypoints and trackpoints with someone else, or overlay them on a calibrated map, or save them for later use, or one of a million other things. So, I figured there would be some standard format for these files. Pull it from your GPS once, then many programs could use the data.
Just looking in the drop-down box for saving files in G7ToWin led me to believe there isn't. There are at least twenty different choices.
Just trying to get all the information into Garmin's MapSource and National Geographics TOPO!, using the same source file was impossible. Do you use CSV, tab or space delimited, what order and format do you use for values, etc.
A little Googling didn't reveal any commonly used standard.
But then I ran across this little gem, GPX.
This is exactly what's needed.
For those not familiar with XML, it is a subset of SGML, kind of like HTML. It is extensible, easy to validate, and easy to convert to other formats. It rocks as a data storage and retreival format.
It's used all over the place, like Microsft's website, their latest Office suite, and many, many programs use it internally for data storage and manipulation.
As long as there is a public, comprehensive schema that everyone agrees to follow, it should work with all devices, and there are XML parsing libraries for free, so it's easy to write applications, or even use scripts locally or on web servers to parse and create the files.
If your device knows nothing about altitude, that's no problem, those tags don't get used. There's no worry about empty or missing fields like there is in CSV or other delimited files.

Contrast this with Robogeo's file format:

quote:

RoboGEO saves tracklogs to this format. You can also manually create these for importing provided they're standard ASCII text and are of the proper format.

An example tracklog is below:

# RoboGeo v1.0
D WGS84
A feet
Z -4
T 34.9937998240967,-84.0431594922791,1869.155,10/14/2003 3:37:35 PM,True
T 34.9937388240967,-84.043800492279,1867.578,10/14/2003 3:37:36 PM,False
T 34.9918768240967,-84.040214492279,1867.578,10/14/2003 3:37:37 PM,False

Note how each line begins with either a #, D, A, Z, or T and that these are followed by a single space. The first character specifies what's contained on a given line:

# - This is a comment and is ignored by the program.
D - The map datum. This can be any valid datum.
A - The altitude units in either feet or meters.
Z - The number of hours ahead of (+) or behind (-) Greenwich Mean Time.
T - A trackpoint.

The trackpoint lines (T) must be of the form:

Latitude,Longitude,Altitude,LocalTime,NewTracklogSegment

which requires that data be in CSV, in a specific order, and is not portable (cannot be used by other programs). It is also not easy for humans to parse the data, as there is no clear-cut indication as to what each field represents.
As Robogeo is the best application I have found for GPS tagging of photos, I am going to be asking Tim Helton, the author, to adopt the GPX for import, and for Robogeo's own internal use.
If anyone else wishes to email him to suggest this, his email address is at the bottom of this page:
»www.robogeo.com/home/faq.asp

I may also email the author of G7ToWin, as it is a handy tool that would benefit from GPX, I think.

There is a list of applications that support the GPX format on this page:
»www.topografix.com/gpx_resources.asp
which I will be exploring.

EDIT:
I just noticed that G7ToWin already has GPX support. This guy has written a great application.

This site also has lots of GPS related info:
»gpsinformation.net/


cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO
reply to cwnorris

OK, here's the last bit of information for the weekend, I want to get outside tomorrow!!

First, a bit of advice... Save your GPS data in GPX format!!
Even if your current applications don't support it, many do, and will convert it to something that your application will support. Hopefully, more applications will start supporting the format. I am loving the G7ToWin application. I can save my routes, waypoints, trackpoints, in GPX format, then load them back into the GPS unit anytime.

I found another utility, although I am hesitant to suggest it's use. It's from Microsoft, it's free, and that makes me a little suspicious. I don't have anything much against Microsoft, it's part of my job to support their products. When they give something away, though, I wonder what they will do when it becomes popular. They are in business to make money, which is cool, not to offer free tools.
Anyway, the have an experimental project, WWMX, which includes an image tagger. It actually works very well, and will automatically pull up a map from your supplied trackpoints.
I just went out and took some photos, and had my GPS create the trackpoints, downloaded and save them in GPX format with G7ToWin, and with a few mouse clicks in the Location Stamper, had this, and my images had the EXIF tagged with GPS info:



Pretty nice, I must say. This is all research, so if you are interested, I would grab the tools while they are available.
I also ran across this page, which has some interesting stuff:
»research.microsoft.com/research/···spx?za=1

Here is my GPX file for the trackpoints, if anyone wants to see what they look like:
downloadtracks.zip 3318 bytes
(tracks.gpx)

There is an online service, GPS Visualizer, that will take many different file formats, and create a map or elevation profile, and generate a SVG image. It requires the Adobe SVG plugin, there are links on the site.
You can download my GPX file to test it out.

I also ran across RoboPhoto, which is supposed to tag images, but haven't tested it yet.

Finally, in using the Robogeo software, it looks like it is doing more than inserting GPS info into the EXIF. It seems to be clobbering some of the other EXIF headers, especially those concerning the thumbnail. I'm no expert on EXIF headers, and I don't want to become one, but headers are gone after using Robogeo, at least they're gone when using Photo Studio (another cool application) to view the EXIF.
That makes me a little hesitant to use it, at least until I figure out exactly what is happening.

If you do end up using any free applications, drop the author an email, letting them know you appreciate their work. If you have any suggestions, or features you would like to see, also mention those. Most of these guys really like to hear when someone is able to make use of their work, and it beats the hell out of having to buy something like this:
»www.geospatialexperts.com/gpsphotolink.html
Yeah, sure, I'm going to plunk down $229.00 for that!


overhill
Judd
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-03
Miami, FL
reply to cwnorris

Well, just know that you aren't just talking to yourself. I have very much enjoyed this thread and appreciate your research. Now if only my Garmin eTrex GPS could even hold a candle to your super-fancy GPSMAP 76CS. That is one heck of a GPS unit!!! I have always wanted to tag my images with GPS coordinates, but I think I'll hold off on buying the serial cable for my unit...not worth $30 since I can't upload maps into my inexpensive GPS. Thanks again!
--
Team Ecology: "Mapping and clicking for the Earth!!"



cwnorris

join:2000-01-17
Longmont, CO

1 edit

1 recommendation

The 76CS is pretty nice, I don't know if I'll ever use it to it's full capacity. As for your serial cable, I think they're pretty easy to make yourself, if you can find the parts, and the pins used. I think many of them only use three pins (receive, transmit, and ground).
I think there's something on the G7ToWin page about this.

I spent a few minutes trying Microsoft's WMMX Travelogue software. It's pretty easy to use, although the code it generates leaves a little to be desired. It had some case issues. For images it created, and coded, it didn't always match the letter case correctly. That's fine if your web server runs on Windows, but if it runs on a 'nix OS, case has to be right. So, I had to do some massaging of paths and case so it would run on my Apache server correctly. It also doesn't work as well using Firefox as a browser, but works fine with IE. I don't feel like tracking down that issue right now.
I put up a test page here:
»www.cnorris.com/test_tracks/
using the route and pictures from my last post.
You can mouse-over either the dots (which correspond to photo locations) or the photo to see where it was taken. Clicking on an image will open it full size (800x600) in a new window.

EDIT:
I should also give the place I bought my GPS a plug, they had a good price, and excellent service. Plus they are almost local to me.
»www.gpsnow.com/
They are a subsidiary of
»www.4x4books.com/

Also, overhill See Profile, I think for tagging images, the eTrex would be perfect. As long as it creates the trackpoints, that's all you need (I think). That's one thing about mine, it's kinda big. I wish it were a little smaller. I did some looking around, and found this page:
»www.nomad.ee/micros/etrex.shtml
which looks a little extreme.
This page also has cables for eTrex:
»www.pfranc.com/cables/index.mhtml

Once the images are tagged, I think there is plenty of free or inexpensive software for taking advantage of the information.



Just-Tried-It

@adelphia.net
reply to cwnorris

cwnorris,

Thanks for your posts. I just tried the WWMX software from Microsoft and it more than suits my needs. I especially like the fact that you can georeference images by dragging and dropping your images onto the map. This came in handy as my GPS unit didn't capture the whole of my week long trip to Yellowstone.