Geotagging is the process of writing GPS coordinates in the EXIF of a photo.
Your photos have EXIF data that are written by the camera when taking pictures. Among this data are the latitude and longitude coordinates (ex: 48°21'45" N 2°44'51" E)
This info can be used by various apps, both online or offline, to associate your photo to a place or display it on a map.
DSLRs and GPS
However, the geotagging process is not automatic, unless your camera has an internal GPS.
In 2014, most smartphones have a GPS, some compact and hybrid cameras also have one, but most DSLRs do not.
Only Sony has an internal GPS in most of its camera bodies.
Here are some DSLRs I know that have an internal GPS:
- Nikon D5300
- EOS 6D
- Sony A58, A65, A77, A99
External GPS modules are proposed by some camera brands (Canon GP-E2, Nikon GP-1), but they are expensive and cumbersome.
Third party GPS modules are also available. I tested one made by Bilora but quickly returned it. This module was fitted on my camera, but did not write the latitude and longitude coordinates directly to the pictures. Instead, you had to use specific software and an internet connection.
In fact, there are free alternatives that are as easy or easier to use.
Endomondo is a sports utility for iOs and Android.
It basically tracks you while your run, cycle, walk or do whatever activity. At the end of the session you can review a series of information about it: distance, time, average and maximum speed, altitude change, calories expended, hydration needed and a map. This information is also available online.
The map is what is interesting for us as Endomondo enables you to download a GPX file containing the path followed.
Steps to geotag
The first step is to register an account at www.endomondo.com. You then can install the app on your iPhone or Android phone.
You need to synchronize time between your DSLR and smartphone carefully. If you do not do this, your photos will not be localized properly.
Track the session
Start a new basic workout as you start taking pictures. You can use any sport, but I usually choose “walking“ or “other”.
Make sure your GPS is working: check if Endomondo has started tracking after a few minutes.
You can disable the sound or it will announce you the distance covered after every kilometer or mile you cover.
Once you have finished shooting, end the Endomondo session.
Download the GPX file
Back home, go to your account at www.endomondo.com
You can access your session by clicking the name of the activity.
On the session page, you will see a map with the path you followed.
Locate the menu over it. Click MORE OPTIONS, then EXPORT and download your route as a GPX file.
Geotag in Lightroom
Load your pictures in Lightroom.
Open the map module.
Load the GPX file using the load tracklog option in this menu.
Select the photos you want to geotag and access the menu again to click “Auto-Tag Photos”.
You will see them appear on the map: geotagging done!
If you select one photo in the maps module, you see that Lightroom can also add some extra info about the area where the photo was taken: