HOW TO GPS Tag Photos: Flickr, Mappr, Google Earth….

Here’s the simple, non-techy way of tagging photos with the location of where you took them on planet Earth. There are lots of ways to do this, and I’ll write about those later- but this is fun thing to do over the holiday weekend. As an added bonus, I’ll show you how to see your photos on a cool Mapping application called Mappr, as well as Google Earth…After hanging out at Where 2.0, I’ve been more interested in tagging my photographs with where they were taken with the exact latitude and longitude so I can later do some interesting things with them. This how-to is just the start of some mapping hacks, step-by-steps etc- I wanted to start out with the simplest method possible so even the non-techies can play. Also, if you have suggestions or other ways of doing this, please add them in the comments!

For this how-to all you’ll need is:

• A digital camera.
• A free Flickr account.
• Optional: Cheap GPS off Ebay or wherever.

Planning the photos The first thing you’ll want to do figure out what types of photos make sense to tag with their location. For now, I’m just testing out stuff so it doesn’t matter- but my plan is to get/take photos of MAKE projects around the USA (and beyond). Imagine spinning a globe and zooming in and out of cool projects and MAKErs from around the world. Any way, my photo test today was at Gas Works park in Seattle, WA.

Taking the photos I happen to have a cheap GPS I got off Ebay, so as I took photos around the park, I also took a photo of the position I was at. Eventually, we’ll see cameras that have GPS built in (there are some attachments and cameras now) but this is a low-tech way, take the photo, take a photo of the GPS with the latitude and longitude.

Wikipedia- Latitude is an angular measurement ranging from 0° at the Equator to 90° at the poles. Longitude is given as an angular measurement ranging from 0° at the Prime Meridian to +180° eastward and −180° westward.

You may need to convert the GPS coordinates. Here’s a handy web site that can help you.

If you don’t have a GPS, that’s OK too. But, you’ll need to write down or use another method to record where you’re at. A simple hack (if you’re taking photos near streets) is to look at the spot you’re at, jot down the address and look it up later. Here’s what I do…

Getting the Lat and Long via Google Maps Let’s say you take a photo at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, WA. You can later pop on over to http://maps.google.com/ and enter “Space Needle, Seattle, WA” and zoom in / out and find the exact location. Once you find the location, click the “link to this page” link in the upper right. The URL will now appear in your browser, cut and paste it in to notepad or some text application.

In the URL there are two bits of information we’ll need. The ll is lat and long:

Lat: 47.620314 Lon: -122.348996

Advanced: If you use Firefox, you can do this more “automagically”- Geotagging Flickr photos, with GoogleMaps via a cool Greasemonkey script and bookmarklet. More here.

Uploading the photos to Flickr Flickr is pretty much, hands down, the coolest and best way to post photos online- It’s my favorite “application” of all time, each week there’s something new to do with it. If you haven’t already, grab a free account. Once you’re up and running you can upload you photos via the web, or add on applications. How you upload doesn’t matter, it’s all about the tagging.

Tagging the Photos Once your photos are on Flickr, you can individually edit the tags or all once. For my example, I kept the photos of the GPS (the location of the photos taken) on my hard drive, and just uploaded the photos I took of the actual places. For each photo, I’ve tagged where they were taken with the lat and lon, if you need to look up the addresses via Google you can do that now, or read them off your GPS photos like I did.

I’ve added some other tags that have been useful for other projects, the folks at geobloggers.com have a lot of interesting things going on, so if you take your photos with geotagged, you’ll also be able to participate in other projects- but if you don’t want to, there’s no need. Here’s an example of some tags…

make seattle google earth geotagged geo:lat=47.620628 geo:long=-122.349329

It’s also a good idea to put http://www.geobloggers.com/ in the photo description. Here’s why (for the techies)…in the description add a link to http://www.geobloggers.com (i.e. (<a href=”http://www.geobloggers.com”>geotagged</a&gt;). From the photos own page (not the photo stream) click the link. geobloggers will automagically look up the photo you just came from and search the tags for the lat and long. Note: If the link doesn’t seem to work wait a couple of minutes and try again. Sometimes it takes a short while for the lon/lat tags to appear in the XML data I get back from the flickr API. More here.

Looking at the Photos on the Map (with Mappr) Now that I’ve tagged my photos with MAKE and the location of where they’re at, I’m pretty much done! If you go to http://www.mappr.com you can just enter in the tag (MAKE) and see all the photos that have been tagged MAKE and also have lat and long. You could just put in your user name.

Here are what some of it looks like…(they’re getting hammered with traffic at the moment, so you might need to try the site at different times).

Viewing the photos with Google Earth If you want to see your photos in Google Earth (free 3D application from Google). You can do it in a few ways, the simpliest way that I’ve found is to download this KML (Google Earth file) that will look for photos wherever you’re zoomed in to and stopped moving. Right click this link, save it, and once you install Google Earth double click it.

Adding a “Network Link” allows you to fetch KML data from remote servers. It does this in two ways, Time Based or Location Based. So *anyone* can add dynamic data to Google Maps. More about this here…Also check out GeoBlogger’s with all their amazing hacks.

Right click / control click and save this file and double click it, it will add my photos to Google Earth, so you can see what I am up to!

If you select “Flickr” in the places, ad press play you’ll get an amazing photo tour of geobloggers in your area!

And that’s it for now…feel free to post your links, photos, suggestions and questions in the comments. I’m hoping that lots of people will try this out, even if they’re not hardcore alpha geeks, and later build on their experiments and try out the web services. We’re about to see an explotion of mapping related services, nothing “new” has happened, just the data is finally “free” and hackers, remixers, tinkerers and Makers are playing. Enjoy!

A little bonus note– I really like Google Earth, more so since it’s based on the following- “Digital Earth” excerpts from Snow Crash, © 1992 by Neal Stephenson: There is something new: a globe about the size of grapefruit, a perfectly detailed rendition of Planet Earth, hanging in space at arm’s length in front of his eyes… It’s a piece of CIC software called, simply, Earth. It is the user interface that the CIC uses to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns — all the maps, weather data, architectural plans, and satellite surveillance stuff.

The level of detail is fantastic. The resolution, the clarity, just the look of it…

It’s not just the continents and oceans. It looks exactly like the Earth would look from a point in geosynchronous orbit directly above L.A., complete with weather systems — vast spinning galaxies of clouds, hovering just above the surface of the oceans — and polar ice caps, fading and fragmenting into the sea. Half of the globe is illuminated by sunlight, and half is dark. The terminator — the line between night and day — has just swept across L.A. and is now creeping across the Pacific, off to the west.

BY Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.

42 Responses to HOW TO GPS Tag Photos: Flickr, Mappr, Google Earth….

1. dalangalma on said:

Wow! This is awesome. I tried using Google Maps to find the lat/long of some photos where I knew exactly where I had been when I took them. However, after zooming in on the exact point and centering it, the “link to this page” link still only goes to the place I last searched for. Any tips?

2. philliptorrone on said:

double click the spot.

3. Claveran on said:

There’s a new integration of flickr and google maps that can simplify the process of locating position in Google Maps, tagging photos and posting to Geobloggers. A map is embedded into flickr for users to see where the photos were taken without leaving flickr.

A screenshot is here http://www.flickr.com/photos/ckyuan/23187093/,
and some discussions in the geotagging flickr group are here http://www.flickr.com/groups/topic/49720/ .

4. isolino60 on said:

You should try geocaching http://www.geocaching.com I think you’d like it.

5. mikel_maron on said:

Another easy way to geotag photos is by syncing a GPS tracklog with timestamps in the photos, then inserting coordinates in the EXIF headers. WWMX Location Stamper is free and accomplishes this easily.

mapufacture.com (and maybe mappr & geobloggers, not sure) will read EXIF locations, and geotags. Just specify the url of a flickr photo stream in the “Annotate with RSS” box.

6. BruceR on said:

GreaseMonkey is great, I think it’s the killer app for Firefox. I was going to post a link to that script but Claveran beat me to it.

7. Kaeru on said:

Another excellent way to tag your photo’s on Flickr is Plazes. It uses the fingerprint of a network you’re on to create a global map of locations, called plazes. You can register networks, provide some geodata, and when you’re online it’ll check to see where you are, it also shows other plazes in your vicinity, as well as other people online. You can use Plazes to aut-tag photo’s with the geodata for a registered plaze, which makes the whole endeavour really simple. Give it a try.

8. johoho on said:

Great thinks about geotaging. But this is still not the real thing. Sorry about my nglish, but iÂ´m from germany. Here is my idea:

All the geotags in combination with photos are 2D. You always stick the photo flat on map or the sat picture of google earth or whatever software you are using. In google earth there is the function that you can shift the map or sat picture, so you could fly over the ground in a kind of 3D. WouldnÂ´t it be nice to place the photos stand up so exact in the 3D inviroment so that you see through see the building or mountain that you once made a picture of.

9. Grasshoppermind on said:

Phillip, excellent article, I wondered if you’ve taken a look at Tagzania yet? Using a combination of Google Earth and Tagzania I’ve created another HOWTO: Geotag anything. Just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration!

10. You should check out “ike” at http://www.survey-lab.com. This device can do it all with one click and drop it into Google or any other GIS software. Commercial rugged and priced to match though. Device stores own location and location of object in picture plus direction camera was pointing so the photo can be viewed from the same perspective it was taken from.

11. Bugmenot on said:

I wrote an app in .NET that makes this process a bit easier.
Basically you drag and drop the KML files onto the photos and it automatically adds the IPTC data (which flickr can read)

check it out
http://www.itagsoftware.awswa.com/

12. Check out this web app and tutorial I’ve just written that allows you to geotag Flickr photos from within the Google Earth interface. It makes the process above much easier for people without a GPS.

Geotagging Flickr photos with Google Earth

13. mikkkkk on said:

Found this today. I tried the bookmarklet, and it’s really great!

I just spend some time to create a slim bookmarklet that enables mapping, geocoding and (of of course) geotagging directly in your Flickr photo page. It works with all common browsers (Firefox, IE, Safari, Opera), so you not have to install any extension to run it.

To run it, simply drag it to your tool bar, visit one of your photo pages, hit it again and your done. No sluggishly page refresh, just simple AJAX style behind the curtain

http://typolis.net/sumaato/stories/4323/

and the referring discussion at the flickr geotagging community.

http://www.flickr.com/groups/geotagging/discuss/72157594165549916

14. surfall on said:

Geotagged photos can be seen nicely on the Google Map at http://www.globefeed.com
But geotagging feature should be added to it.

15. jiwhite on said:

Have you found another way to integrate into Google Earth now that Geobloggers is no longer available?

16. I found a nice tool to build html photo albums which can be based on google maps or just on a static map image. The latter is especially nice for offline presentations.
Not yet geo tagged photos can be either tagged manually by just clicking on a map or by importing a GPS tracklog.
The name of the software (freeware) is PositionMap and can be downloaded here:
http://jrepository.engblom.org/default.asp?Action=viewskin&GUID=34006E2A-8F58-43A3-AF92-A1BFAB666080

PositionMap is a plugin for JAlbum (it’s also freeware) which finally builds the html photo album. Here is it’s home page:
http://jalbum.net/

Regards!

There is a new geo tagging forum at http://geotaggingforum.com

18. SergeySS on said:

Good Info, thanks!
See my Digital Photo Blog

19. Try http://www.gpstagr.com/. It allows the user to upload a track file saved from a GPS device, then use the track information to geotag flickr photos that are taken in the same time period as the track file. This is a lot easier than geotagging photos manually using flickr organizr, and more accurate, too.

20. geek111222 on said:

I got something very similar on my website.Ideal, if you are looking for something customizable and really simple. There is also a zip file with instructions on how to get it working for your website. Data (coordinates,paths to images) is stored in an XML which is transformed into HTML.

21. eternalsunshine on said:

You can also use close2me to snap a picture on your camera phone and then share it out with your location information automatically attached to it. Then when people are in that area, they can see your pictures. The service does a whole lot more, but that’s one thing I use it for the most.

22. BrianBrown on said:

Here is a link to a blog post I did about geotagging my blog posts. It’s not exactly automated, but it is pretty cool. It also talks about geotagging photos with Garmin GPS data using WWMX, Picasa, and Google Earth.

Check out the post:
http://hikesandbikes.blogspot.com/2006/10/life-of-geolocated-blog-post.html

or the main site for geotagged examples:
http://hikesandbikes.blogspot.com

23. crzy2crzy on said:

Hey !
Check out this site I found last night.
It goes a step beyond photos as it lets you categorize, and even import/export gps files. (And of course add photos.)
I am going nuts adding places from my GPS.
It also is Wiki style which means anyone can edit a point that was put in. Very cool.

24. mobquery on said:

you should add altitude location as well. i’m a little annoyed that my gps device doesn’t report altitude information. i want to take on a plane.

25. ronnyinus on said:

Check out this post, it’s a new gadget that enables GPS photo Tagging http://www.engadget.com/2007/04/25/gisteq-phototracker-brings-gps-phototagging-to-the-masses/ It allows user to Geo-tag photos as well as export photos along with GPS info so that they can be used in 3rd party geo-tagging websites.

26. dmx_dogy@hotmail.com I am diamond im from prishtina

27. Try out free and simple geotagging software GPSed Photo Take’n'Pin: http://photo.gpsed.com. It is convenient to use one solution for GPS tracking, archiving and photo geotagging.

28. I have an idea for a cross country trip I’m planning this summer:

I want to hook up my laptop to a camera & GPS simultaneously and record the drive based on distance traveled (say one photo every mile). Any ideas on how I could automate the process?

29. now there are really so much solutions to geotaggin
g, but the tracker miscalculate a lot. Now the only
two product are di-gps from dawn and dp-gps from
Solmeta. you can browse the website at http://www.solmeta
.com with those products, you can get real fun of
geotagging

30. you can also check out grazer (www.grazer.de), a free windows app that writes location tags into exif headers by analyzing a GPX file.

31. Glenn Rogers on said:

A photo database system, DBGallery, allows easy geotagging of one or more photos. The geotag info is stored in the photos Exif data so it’s reused ever after for uploading to Flickr, etc. My favorite feature is having a set of photos displayed across a map, and the selection of those photos can be based on months, folders, cameras, or a keyed search criteria. An overview can be found at

http://grrsystems.com/DBGallery/GPS_QuickTour.htm

32. Nice information, but as of these days, there are so many invention that catch the attention of the consumer, such new model of laptops, personal computers, cellphones etc, which have a good build in camera!
http://www.howtoconnectlaptoptotv.net
http://www.eatagirlout.net

33. Anonymous on said:

wow! what i can say. you have discuss clearly and with images how to tag photos through gps.
great article.

my blogs: how to make to know if a girl likes you|how to make a girl fall in love
http://www.knowifagirllikesyou.com
http://.www.makeagirlfallinloveorg

34. If you right click on the page go to “View Page Source” (this may be different on other browsers and OS’s) then hit ctrl – f on your keyboard and type in the first few letters of “geotagging” (geo works just fine) you should be ablle to find a few script lines that look like this

make seattle google earth geotagged geo:lat=47.620628 geo:long=-122.349329

This is the thing that all the news reports have been about saying WATCH OUT!!! I think thats kinda stupid that they are making a big deal out of it because it takes some work to even set up a picture with this data.

35. Hello Friends,

I developed the website http://www.whereisthepicture.com where, without having to download or install any software on your PC, upload a photo and if it contains information on GPS, whereisthepicture.com will show in Google Maps the exact position where the photo was taken.

In the event that the photo does not contain GPS information, http://www.whereisthepicture.com gives you the ability to geotag your own photography, adding GPS information within it.

Finally, whereisthepicture.com gives option to send to your friends via e-mail the photo in a reduced format and a link to Google Maps, indicating the position of the picture.

Regards!

36. Hello Friends,

I developed the website http://www.whereisthepicture.com where, without having to download or install any software on your PC, upload a photo and if it contains information on GPS, whereisthepicture.com will show in Google Maps the exact position where the photo was taken.

In the event that the photo does not contain GPS information, http://www.whereisthepicture.com gives you the ability to geotag your own photography, adding GPS information within it.

Finally, whereisthepicture.com gives option to send to your friends via e-mail the photo in a reduced format and a link to Google Maps, indicating the position of the picture.

Regards!

37. Hello Friends,

I developed the website http://www.whereisthepicture.com where, without having to download or install any software on your PC, upload a photo and if it contains information on GPS, whereisthepicture.com will show in Google Maps the exact position where the photo was taken.

In the event that the photo does not contain GPS information, http://www.whereisthepicture.com gives you the ability to geotag your own photography, adding GPS information within it.

Finally, whereisthepicture.com gives option to send to your friends via e-mail the photo in a reduced format and a link to Google Maps, indicating the position of the picture.

Regards!

38. Hello Friends,

I developed the website http://www.whereisthepicture.com where, without having to download or install any software on your PC, upload a photo and if it contains information on GPS, whereisthepicture.com will show in Google Maps the exact position where the photo was taken.

In the event that the photo does not contain GPS information, http://www.whereisthepicture.com gives you the ability to geotag your own photography, adding GPS information within it.

Finally, whereisthepicture.com gives option to send to your friends via e-mail the photo in a reduced format and a link to Google Maps, indicating the position of the picture.

Regards!

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40. Hi, I’m launching a small project that will take a folder of geo-tagged jpegs and create a google earth file with placemarks for the photolocations that when clicked show a popup with a small version of the image as well as metadata info. You can check out some google earth example files here:

http://www.halescode.com/Software/GeoPhotoTracker/DemoFiles.aspx