Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Geotag Photos Workflow - How do I Geotag my Fujifilm photos?

One of my little pet peeves, is the fact that most DSLR and mirrorless cameras still don't have a proper built in GPS chip for Geotagging. For those, not familiar, Geotagging, it is the process of adding geographical identification to the metadata of a photo or video. Simply said, GPS coordinates (lat/long) are added to the image so that software can later use it. 

A camera which does have excellent geotagging functionality, is the iPhone (and most other smartphones), as GPS coordinates are automatically added to each and every photo.

Over the last year or so, I've had quite a few people asking whether I do geotag my images shot with the Fujifilm X-series camera through the built in Wifi functionality or whether I use an external application...

First, what kind of "geotagging" do the newer Fujifilm X cameras provide? One can indeed connect a phone or tablet to the camera and then send a "geotag" update which includes the position. Problem is this is a one time position update which will not keep track of the photographer moving around. Briefly, great to take a single geotag snapshot position, but not really useable to geotag all of the images shot during a photoshoot where one continuously moves around.

As an alternative, there are a number of third parties apps available for smartphones which record a GPS track of wherever the photographer is at a certain time. As the GPS track contains exact time information and each image has a time stamp stored in the META data, image editing software like Lightroom can then synchronise both. 

A third party application I have used for several years now, is "Geotag photos". They have a free desktop version and a 3.99 USD iPhone/iPad and Android app.

The workflow might look a bit daunting initially, but once you've done it a few times, the process takes less than 2 mins! Let's have a look...


What's below is based on using an iPhone 5S running IOS8 and Lightroom 5.7 on a Mac running OS X. Functionality when using Android smartphones is similar but not necessary identical. Here we go...

Step 1Open the Geotag Photos Pro app and click on New trip. Give it a name as below and click REC when ready to start shooting.

My Accuracy settings in the settings tab are as follows:

Step 2Once done shooting, click STOP. After importing your images into Lightroom, go to the MAP tab. Click on the symbol, right of the lock at the bottom toolbar. For a better view on the screenshot below, please click on the image.

I personally setup my iPhone app to upload automatically into my Dropbox folder. After clicking "Load Tracklog", choose the GPX file with the name you allocated in step 1.

After the tracklog loads, you will see the track on the Lightroom map. If you don't have an active internet connection, the map won't load but geotagging of the images is still available.

Step 3Next, click on "Time zone off-set" in Lightroom. I personally always set my cameras to GMT time. As the GPS track is always based on Local time, I need to off-set the time zone; e.g. whenever I shoot in the UAE I need to select -4 hours.

Then select all the images you want to geotag from the lower Lightroom filmstrip. Once done click on Auto-tag .... Selected Photos

Once done you will see, yellow icons along the track with a number. These are the number of photos that were taken at this specific position

On all of the geotagged images, you will now see a new icon in the bottom right corner of the thumbnail; it looks a bit like a thumbtack and means the image now has the GPS coordinates written into the metadata. 

If one has "reverse geocoding" enabled in Lightroom, the Metadata boxes that contain location details like city, country, etc... will be automatically filled in. For this to work, one does need to be online. To activate the reverse geocoding function go to Lightroom > Catalog settings > Metadata.

The main advantage of geotagging your images is the fact that finding specific ones becomes much easier. Even if the image is not (or limited) key worded, I can do a quick search by using the Lightroom Map function or by searching for all images shot in a certain city/area. I also sometimes get the question of clients or fellow photographers where the image was shot exactly. 

Whenever, I don't want to share the geotag info, I just make sure that I tick the "Remove location info" box in the Lightroom export box. 

Hope this clears up some of the geotag questions you might have as a photographer! 


DISCLAIMER: "I'm not affiliated with Geotag Photos and did not receive any form of compensation to promote their product".

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pic(k) of the week 13: Dubai contrast

Contrast in photography is often one of the most important reasons why a specific image stands out! It can be the contrast between black and white, between complimentary colours, between sharpness and out of focus areas or just between shadows and highlights.

Beside the physical contrast, it can also be a contrast between subject matter; and that is how I feel about the image below.

3 Key elements of Dubai

To me the four main elements in the image all complement each other; the biggest contrast is probably the older Mosque against the ultra modern Burj Khalifa, the worlds largest building. The UAE flag links the two together and gives it a sense of place, while the fishing cages make for an interesting and authentic foreground.

In photography the rule of thirds is generally well understood, however another rule which is less known, is "the rule of odds"; an odd number of main subjects often looks more pleasing than an even number. This is just how our brain is wired I guess. I also like how the trio of the mosque, Burj Khalifa and UAE flag all have different sizes and play of each other.

Lastly, I envisioned the image as a square and therefore cropped it that way in post-processing.

Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 50-140 f2.8 lens
ISO 200, 106mm (159mm full frame equivalent), f8, 1/420s
RAW file developed in Lightroom 5.7

More of my Architectural images shot in Dubai can be found here.

Remember, with regard to rules in photography, "Rules are there to be broken"!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fujifilm XF23mm f1.4 goes Architectural - Box Park Dubai

Dubai is known for its ambitious Architectural projects; the latest one is a "shopping street" based around containers called "Box Park" in Jumeirah which opened earlier this week.

Time to take the 23mm f1.4 prime lens, I have on loan from Fujifilm Middle East for a spin. No, I know that Architectural photography is not really what one would thinks about when shooting with a lens which has a 35mm equivalent full frame focal lens! 

The advantage however of a "normal" lens is that there is very little distortion accross the frame; something which is great for Architectural work.

Box Park, Dubai

Back to the Box Park in Dubai; the project is likely inspired by the "Container Mall" in Christchurch, New Zealand, where after a strong earthquake in February 2011, people started opening shops in shipping containers because all of their shops were damaged beyond repair.

Box Park, Dubai

The Box Park project in Dubai however, wasn't created because of an extreme natural disaster and consists of a mix of classic concrete structures and containers.

Box Park, Dubai

All of the images are shot with the Fujifilm X-T1, handheld (not using a tripod), at ISO's varying from 1600 to 6400 (mostly 3200) using the Auto ISO function! 

Box Park, Dubai

Box Park, Dubai

Box Park, Dubai

As an Architectural photographer, I'm always excited to see new projects pop up and this one is definitively one to take note of! 

Box Park, Dubai

Box Park, Dubai

To check out how the Fujifilm XF 23mm 1.4 lens shines for street photography, click here.

Remember, "Architecture begins where engineering ends" - Walther Gropius


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pic(k) of the week 12: Air to Air with a sister-ship Piper Super Cub

As a pilot/photographer, Air to Air photography, is obviously one of my favourite kinds of Aviation photography.

Photographing other aircraft in flight, is very dynamic; something that needs to be planned ahead of time and that needs a high discipline of all pilots and photographers involved. In a close formation flight, aircraft often fly closer than 5m (15ft) from each other, which requires high concentration of especially the pilot joining up on the wing of the lead-aircraft.

The image below was shot from the 1954 Piper Super Cub I co-own in Belgium, while its sister-ship, an almost identical 40 year younger Piper Super Cub, is the main photo-subject. Lower in the frame, is a Flight Design CT2K microlight, who joined the formation on the way back from Brasschaat in the Northern part of Belgium.

The nuclear electrical power station of Doel, North of Antwerp (Belgium) makes for an interesting background.

PA-18 Piper Cub in formation with CT Flightdesign

Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the Fujinon XF50-140 f2.8 lens
ISO200, 50mm, f4, 1/250s
RAW file developed in Lightroom 5.7
Nik ColorEfex for optimum contrast

In order to avoid a "stopped" prop which looks very strange, the shutter speed needs to be relatively slow; 1/250s is the about the fastest one should shoot in order to have some prop-blur with most propellor aircraft. Ideally I would have preferred to shoot at double the speed (1/125s) to have a fuller prop-disk. This was unfortunately hard to do, given the air wasn't 100% smooth.

More of my Air to Air photography can be found here while images of my own and some other Piper Cubs can be found here.

Remember: "Flying might not all be plain sailing, but the fun in it, is worth the price" - Amelia Earhart 


Monday, March 16, 2015


New York remains my nr 1 “Street Photography paradise”. Even more pronounced than Paris, the opportunities for a street photographer in this mega-hub are endless! 

Ny gifts

Whenever I go to the Big Apple, I try to do at least a few hours of hardcore street-photography, preferably shooting Black and White with a prime lens. For you non-photographers out there, a prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal lens; the opposite of a zoom. As an example, your iPhone or Android phones all have prime lenses. 

Last week, I got a Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 lens on loan from Fujifilm Middle East, which I took to New York. I do own the 27mm pancake lens (right in the image above), but have been hesitating to purchase the 27mm (left in image above) for a while.

What is below, is not going to be a full on review, but rather a practical look on how I used the lens for my street photography in New York city.

So why a 23mm prime?
Depending on who you speak to, scientists claim that humans see around a 24 to 35mm focal length. Given I shot the lens on a 1.5 cropped sensor, i.e. Fujifilm X-T1; the 23mm becomes a 35mm full frame equivalent.

Waiting for the subway

The advantage of using a prime lens for street photography, is that one quickly learns to see in a specific focal length and after a while will know exactly where to stand to frame a perfect shot; this even without looking through the viewfinder. 

Like your trousers

As it has the same focal length, the lens is often compared to the Fujifilm X-100 series, of which I tested and reviewed its latest iteration in a blogpost called; "Two weeks on the road with the X-100T".

Obviously the size and weight of the X-100T are considerably less than the 23mm lens mounted on an X-T1. Image quality wise, I found that the latter is a little bit better; but only ever so slightly. It is very sharp all over the frame, even at large apertures; unlike the 27mm I own which is a remarkable lens for its size in the center of the frame, but not so much on the edges.
What are you waiting for?

There are very little things I don’t like about this lens, but the size of the lens-hood is one of them. The 23mm is not exactly very small to start with, but the huge lens-hood which is included is clearly overkill! Online research, reveals that I’m clearly not alone; some photographers have bought a cheap metal hood which screws on the 62mm filter thread. These mostly seem to fit well, causing no or minimal vignetting.

The second one being the aperture ring, which is a little too loose for my liking. On more than one occasion I changed to aperture without knowing; not a showstopper but something to be aware about!
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Overall I'm very impressed with the XF 23mm f1.4 lens. The metal lens feels top quality and creates outstanding image quality. It has the same "pull for manual focus" ring of the 14mm f2.8, which I'm a fan of! When pulling the ring backwards, a hyperlocal focus scale is exposed, something which is especially useful for street photography.

I had been playing with the idea of picking up an X-100T for my street photography, but this 23mm prime might do the same job

One of the main advantages of the X-100 series, was the fact that one can shoot 100% silent. After the latest X-T1 firmware update, I can now do the same with the electronic shutter and this is exactly how I shot in New York!

Grafitti in Manhattan

Other settings I commonly use for Street photography are, black and white with the yellow filter, RAW or RAW+jpeg, Face detection ON, Auto ISO with a minimum shutter speed of 1/250s and a max ISO of 3200. 

I used to shoot a lot in manual focus using the hyper-focal technique, but given the face detection auto-focus has become so good, I almost have completely given up on it!

My favourite time to shoot in Manhattan is when the sun sits low on the horizon. As the light bounces of the buildings it makes for some dramatic images.

Cool guys

My preferred way of shooting candid street photography is by shooting “from the hip”; I often pretend fiddling around with my camera settings while taking shots. 

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Another great tip to shoot candids is pretending to take a shot of for example the top of a facade and then eventually taking the actual frame while checking out the so called first image on the LCD. An example can be found below.

You are weird

The X-T1 tilt screen has also been a great help in getting different perspectives! 

Those shoes are not made for walking...

One should not discard shooting in and around the New York subway; it is full of great photo opportunities and security seems to be fine with it...

Subway driver

When shooting in the trains, I often try to frame interesting photos by using the background of some of the advertisements displayed.   

Those shoes are not made for walking...

It looks like another Fujinon lens, will join my lens arsenal soon!