Sunday, May 30, 2010

How to Geotag Your Digital Photos for Flickr, Google Earth, etc...

On a recent overseas voyage, I was struck by a new technology that has apparently become commonplace... integrated GPS devices on digital cameras.

The idea is simple. New medium- and high- end digital cameras allow you to add-on a small GPS attachment that locks directly onto the camera itself. Its purpose is to tag all of your photos with the exact location in which they were taken, and that data can then be played around with on a myriad of websites and through programmable APIs.

It's a fabulous innovation for digital photography geeks. And there's still more. You don't even necessarily have to buy a GPS device for your camera. While that's still the most convenient way to "geotag" your photos, you can also use some online tools to do it for you after the fact.

For instance, take a look at this map of geotagged photos - created just for the purposes of demonstration, and in under 10 minutes. You can click on a location and see the pictures from that particular place.

How can you do this? The easiest way is to actually buy the GPS attachment. Check out this product list of reviews. Most cost between $75 - $125.

The other (and free) method of geotagging is to upload your photos to Flickr. I recommend this terrific step-by-step tutorial by MAKE magazine, which is a little outdated but still very helpful for newbies. It also explains how you can integrate your geotagged photos with Google Earth.

Once you're pictures have been uploaded, Flickr makes the rest super-easy by including a link for each photo labeled, "Add to My Map". Just click it, find your location, and you're done. For Google Earth, there is the additional step of having to include tags for latitude and longitude coordinates.

Geotagging might become additionally valuable looking forward as developers can engineer even more useful apps by programming with the relatively open APIs of Flickr, Google, and other websites. If you're a big photography buff, you probably stopped reading this post after the first paragraph because it's such "old news". But some of us - myself included - hadn't yet been clued in.


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