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January 06, 2009



I've been looking at getting a logger and manually converting my existing iPhoto library with some freeware out there.

But this makes it seem very easy and simple to not only convert existing photos but any new photos. That is, it seems like you wouldn't need a logger and software to sync/embed GPS data into your photos before importing them into iPhoto.

But I wonder how comprehensive their database for place names is. Do they have Arc de Triomphe or Eiffel Tower in their database of place names or just Paris?

Or can you customize the database and add names of specific places, like a small square which isn't so well-known?

An iPhoto Event could have hundreds of pictures taken over the course of a day. So do you drop all the photos in an EVent onto one pin on the map and you can't pin individual photos with more accuracy? Well you obviously could as in the Paris demo but can you associate specific names within a city or a small town?

If it works, it seems adding place names/GPS data would take no longer than extracting logs from a logger and then using some other software to sync/embed before importing into iPhoto. IOW, no need for a logger, unless you have problems locating where you took your photos on the Google Map (or using satellite view).

Hell, if this becomes popular, maybe Google Street View can have more pictures available. That is if they take pictures from anyone.

Richard Akerman

I think it comes down to what you consider "good enough" location information. Under reasonable conditions, a GPS logger will fix your position, anywhere in the world, within about 10 metres (10 yards) or so. And all you need to make that work is an accurately set clock on your camera. You don't need to know where you are.

Many times I use the information from my GPS logger to find out where I was when I took a shot.

So Apple's approach for *manual* geotagging will work fine if, first, you know where you took your pictures, and second, you took your pictures in a major location or near a major landmark (I assume the database includes landmarks), and third, you don't mind having your photo in the "general area", rather than positioned exactly.

(It's not yet clear whether Apple will let you place a pin on a map to manually position a photo, or whether they only support typing a location.)

Now, if you have *no* location information for photos, which is the case for most people, having *any* location information may be a step up.

In any case, eventually most cameras will have GPS in my opinion, and certainly almost all cellphone cameras will.

In the meantime, I think you might be surprised at how *little* effort it is to synchronize photos to a GPS track, once you have done the workflow a few times. It's basically just load the photos, load the track, make sure the time offset (if any) is correct, and then click "go". I think this will still be the choice for people who want very precise locations for their photos.

Google Street View doesn't take user-submitted photos. Two examples which do are Panoramio (a Google service which will display geocoded photos in Google Earth and - I think - on Google maps) and PhotoSynth - a Microsoft panorama service that unfortunately don't work on the Mac, and doesn't read photo geographic information directly (you have to enter it manually).

I think you are right that eventually this will lead to tons of geocoded street level photos - I wrote a bit about this scenario when I wrote about Photosynth. http://scilib.typepad.com/science_library_pad/2008/08/photosynth-is-n.html


Hmm, so a logger will show which side of the Eiffel tower you were at when you took a certain picture of the tower?

That is useful and your point about well-known landmarks is true.

There are times when I have to guess where a location is based on an address on my Garmin and European address schemes are sometimes irrational.

I will have to install iLife 09 and see how precisely I'm able to pin the thousands of pics I've taken over the years.

It's just that the software available for the Mac to do the syncing and embedding of the GPS data seems really limited.

So the workflow would be, I connect the logger and extract the data and then mount the memory card and run the software, then import into iPhoto.

It would be nice to be able to do it all within iPhoto instead, because one reason I've stayed with iPhoto is that I want to do minimal work with cataloging and organizing my library. I stopped doing edits for instance so I have little interest in DSLRs and doing post-processing to get the most out of RAW captures in DSLR.

Richard Akerman

It depends how iPhoto 2009 manages metadata, timestamps and photo changes. You shouldn't necessarily have to do (geocoding workflow) then (iPhoto import). As long as iPhoto doesn't touch the EXIF timestamps and re-reads photo metadata on changes, you can import the photos into iPhoto, and then run your geotagging software of choice in-place, and iPhoto should detect the locations as they're added. That is, the GPS track matching software reads the photo in, adds the GPS-EXIF for the location, and writes the photo metadata back out to the same photo file.

On Windows, Picasa can detect changes to its existing photo database while it is running and automatically indicates the photo now has geographic information (I don't know if it works the same on the Mac).

If you have the latest version (6.2) of the popular GraphicConverter photo manipulation software, you already have the ability to geotag photos from a GPX track from a logger (I haven't tested this out yet, but all the menu options are there).

HoudahGeo is another Mac option that is just for adding geographic information from GPS logger tracks.


Unfortunately iPhoto does not detect changes to photos after they have been imported. So if you add GPS info to the Exif tags after importing those pics will not show in Places.

If i was carrying a logger with me when taking photos I use GPSPhotoLinker prior to importing, other wise I use my own Geotagger program (http://craig.stanton.net.nz/code/geotagger). Both put the exact coordinates into Exif and iPhoto will read them when (and only when) you import the photo.

Love the Eiffel Tower

This is great, I always struggle with my 1000s of photos of the Eiffel Tower, and various other places in Paris. This would help me keep track of my exploration of little neighborhoods in Paris. The only obstacle to enjoying Paris is there is no Mac flagship store (read somewhere that there is one proposed to be started at Musee du Lovre). Still I cross the channel to enjoy the store at regent street in London.

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