I was introduced to GPS tagging when I purchased the Sony A77 camera, and then later on the Sony A99. Once GPS lock was acquired, the camera could GPS tag any captured image. On many occasions, both cameras would have trouble acquiring the GPS satellites especially the Sony A77.
I now add GPS tags to all my images, and I have gone back and GPS tagged images taken before GPS data was available.
I manage my images with Lightroom, so I GPS tag using either data from a GPS logger, my Lightroom Saved Locations, or approximating with the Lightroom Map.
Bad Elf 2200 GPS Logger
To collect GPS data, I use a Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro Logger (Figure 1). This logger features:
- Compact size of 3″ x 2.5″ x 0.7″ and weighs 3.3 oz.
- Built-in rechargeable battery via USB. Up to 16 hours of paired logging or up to 35 hours of stand-alone logging (my preferred method).
- Bluetooth connection to iPhone or iPad, and a download application.
- Provides real-time data.
- An easy to read display of GPS data.
My workflow for the Bad Elf is:
- When setting out on my trip, I turn on the logger, check the memory, check the battery status, and then place it in my pocket. If the memory is approaching full, then download trips to iPhone or iPad and delete trips off the Bad Elf. If the battery is approaching exhausted, then it has to be charged.
- If you have traveled to a new time zone, remember to change the time on your cameras. To GPS tag an image, Lightroom synchronizes the time of the GPS logger and the image capture time. If you forget to set the time on your camera, then use Metadata> Edit Capture Time to correct the capture time on your images.
- On returning, download your trip to your iPhone (Figure 2) and I like to delete the trip off the Bad Elf (Figure 3). Recharge the Bad Elf.
- After downloading is complete, I select the trip and then email the trip to myself (using the Share Your Trip see Figure 4).
- After downloading the day’s images into Lightroom, I then select the Map module (Figure 5). I then load today’s tracklog Map> Tracklog> Load Tracklog. I then tag my selected images Map > Tracklog > Auto-Tag Photos.
Lightroom Map Module Saved Locations
For repeat locations, I use the Saved Location feature of the Lightroom Map Module (Figure 5). For example, images captured at home. After downloading the images into Lightroom, I select the Map Module and then select a Saved Location.
Forgot The Bad Elf?
Forgot to bring or forgot to charge the Bad Elf, what should you do?
- Use a GPS logger application on your phone, and they work very much like the Bad Elf.
- No GPS data, then use the Map Module in Lightroom to approximate your locations.
How About Old Images?
For old images taken long before GPS data was available, I again use the Map Module in Lightroom to approximate the location. The below image was taken at Bultins Holiday Camp Pwllheli Wales in 1966. The camp is no longer there, so I had to estimate its location.
Cameras With GPS
After my experience with the Sony A77 and Sony A99, I decided to go with an external GPS logger that continually logs the trip.
On a trip to France, my wife used my Olympus TG-4 with built-in GPS. When she returned most of the images had been tagged without her having to think about it.
Images do not get tagged if the camera cannot acquire the satellites, and this often happens when you turn the camera on and off.
As time marches on, names, places, and dates soon get forgotten. I make it appoint to keep my metadata up to date. In addition, I have gone back (where I can) and added the metadata.
When I inherited the photograph below, I had no idea of who, when, or where. I eventually found out it was my Grandfather (top right) with his siblings, and it was taken around 1920 in Liverpool, England.