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".

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