Geotag. “Geo” + “Tags”. Tagging with geographical information or GPS coordinates.
The meaning is so simple, there isn’t a need to look up its meaning. Geotagging is one of the interesting stuff that makes me think about it, its brings more fun after having a GPS receiver, and the possibilities is really up to one’s creativity.
Lets take for example if write a traveller’s blog, you could look for posts categorised by time, by categories and by subject tags. Imagine having each post is tagged with its location, not only you know the location reading a post, you could easily navigate and search for posts by location and visually on a map. (Geojoey’s a free blog service for geotagged enabled blogs.)
Basically anything you wish to keep geographical information or data to be organise by location could be “geotag”, secret places (search geocaching), treasures, objects, animals, friends etc. It will be cool to have microblogging/status updates services support geotagging. Twitter tackles “what are you doing” but perhaps geotagging answers “where are you”.
Why Geotag Photos?
There’s should be some good reason why Google’s and Yahoo’s services supports this other than competition. When organising photos, you group them by usually by time, albums, folders etc. As the photos collection grow quickly, we need more to search and locate and there’s where descriptions, keywords tags comes into place. Perhaps with sophisticated software, we could find them by colours, mood, faces (I hope).
With the addition geotags, we know easily and exactly where a photo is taken, we could easily find photos taken in or around an area, we could layout photos over the world map and visualise where we had been before. (See SuperGeoTagged for flickr photos on google earth/maps)
Likely, you need to know only 1. Make a choice.
Method 1: Automated Package.
You take a photo with your camera, and the location gets tagged to the photo automatically. Sounds simple but how? This usually requires some equipment. Either your camera has built in GPS, or you attach it to a GPS addon which is usually costly. A more practical situation is using mobile phones (and software) which takes advantage of its built in (or connected) GPS and camera. (Here’s a product for nikon cameras. Zurfer is a mobile software/service for automating and uploading geotagged photos from cameras phones)
Method 2: Map Assisted Geotagging
A little manual work but nevertheless the most affordable method. Select photos, then pinpoint it on the map on the computer to tag them. Since yahoo, google and microsoft already have their own map services, they already have services and software which allows users to do so easily. At the same time, there are software and online services and tutorials for providing such geotagging mashups. (examples: flickr, locr)
Method 3: Syncing GPS Logs
With a little work, this provides the most flexibility at affordable costs. Have a device to record GPS logs while you shoot away on a separate camera. Since GPS has multiple purposes, it would be a waste just to use it for tagging photos. With a GPS receiver, you could use it for navigation, finding directions, displaying routes and travel statistics, and while doing all these, record your tracks. With these track logs, a software would be able to extract the geographical data and tag locations to photos taken based on time contained in photographs.
Method 3. Since I already own a cheap bluetooth GPS receiver, I run the cool free trekbuddy on my mobile phones which tells me my location, speed, distance at the same time recording my travel tracks. The logs transferred to the computer would be synced with the photos, and coordinates are written to the photos’ EXIF and automatically displayed on maps with comptible services. The freeware I used is Geosetter, which is very good and powerful.
The benefits of a GPS Log can been seen here using Geosetter. Not only it shows you the path you took, it can shows you at exactly which spot you took the photos. On the boat, while Trekbuddy was tracklogging, its CMS can provide accurate ETA if you set target waypoint at the jetty. Click here for another screenshot.
Google supports geotagging in various services/products. Both Panoramio their community photo site, Google Maps (enable show photos under More) can view tagged photos, and Google Earth, Google Web Albums supports tagging. Microsoft’s softwares Virtual Earth and ProPhoto supports geotagging.
For method 3, you could purchase a gps data logger, but if you have already own a gps mobile phone, all the more its similar. A simple, free software like GPS Track could do the gps logging easily for you. Trekbuddy also provides inbuilt geotag for camera phones when u record a waypoint. (Method 1) Other free GPS software for mobile phones of interest are VlkGps and Mobile Trail Explorer.
More Links and Resources
Google’s Picasa Web Album – allows geotagging of albums
Yahoo’s Flickr – their organz feature allow you to geotag photos
Google’s Panaramio– service mainly to upload and specify coordinates. Photos on this service are shown in Google earth
Locr – A photo sharing site mainly with geotagging capabilities and location sharing (using maps by google, yahoo, microsoft)
Zooomr – another photo sharing community with Geotagging support.
Everytrail – For recording of tracks mainly but supports syncing for photos uploaded
Trekbuddy – Free powerful GPS j2me software for mobile phones
Geocoded Photo A similar article on wikipedia.