Recently, I shared a walkthrough of how I use my iPhone to geotag the location of every photo I take in the field. There are many reasons why geotagging can be useful; however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the implications of sharing those locations on social media. In recent years, some of our most beautiful natural landscapes have been significantly damaged, permanently in some cases, due to a lack of respect or understanding by tourists. Garbage and litter can readily be found along nature trails, as well as graffiti and defacement of trees, rocks and other natural elements.
I bring this up more as a cautionary reminder that sharing locations, either knowingly or via embedded metadata, can have serious implications, so please be mindful. With that, I’ll climb down from my soapbox and begin the next part of this geotagging walkthrough.
By now, you should have been able to capture and export all of your geotagged data from your phone. The next step is to apply that data to each photo that you took with your camera. For the purposes of this walkthrough, I’ll be using Adobe Lightroom Classic because it has a robust geotagging utility that allows for the import and syncing of any .gpx file.
To begin, you should obviously import your photos into your Lightroom Classic Catalog. As before, I’m going to present each step as an image in the gallery below.
Step 1 – With your photos imported into Lightroom, press ‘G’ to enter the Grid view. Next, select all the photos that you want to have synced against your GPX Track Log file. In most cases for me, I simply select all the files in the folder for syncing.
Step 2 – Press the “Map” module on the top right of the Module Selector to enter the Map view. Next, click on the “GPS Tracklogs” button on the bottom toolbar (it looks like a squiggly line) and select “Load Tracklog…”
Step 3 – Navigate to the folder containing the GPX file that you exported from your GPS app. In this case, I pointed it to the folder that I had created on Dropbox. Select the file and then press “Choose.”
Step 4 – You’ll now see a blue line overlaid on top of the map. This is your track log.
Step 5 – Now it’s time to sync your selected photos with this track log. To do so, click on the “GPS Tracklogs” button again and select “Auto-Tag # Selected Photos” to begin the syncing process.
Step 6 – Upon completion, you’ll now see your photos displayed along the blue Track Log line. The photos will be represented as little pins. If there’s a concentration of photos taken in a specific region, they’ll be clustered together and the number of photos in that cluster will be displayed. Tapping on a pin will display a small thumbnail of the photo(s) taken at that location.
Step 7 – When you return to the Grid view, you’ll now see a small icon on the bottom right of each thumbnail that has a geotag associated with it. This icon looks like a little pin. Clicking on it will automatically open up the Map module and show you exactly where on the map the image was tagged to.
Step 8 – Additionally, when viewing the EXIF information of a geotagged photo, you’ll see the detailed Latitudinal and Longitudinal coordinates along with the recorded altitude (assuming your phone’s sensors can measure that).
So, there you go! I hope this tutorial has inspired you to begin logging your treks so that you can always know exactly where you were when you took your photos. Besides your phone, there are tons of ways that one can go about geotagging photos. You can invest in a proprietary handheld GPS device, which will track your path with great detail. I also invested in the Garmin Fenix 5 GPS Smartwatch and absolutely love it. It’s fast, capable and exceptionally intuitive to use. Plus, it also tells you the time! Your camera may even have a GPS radio built right in, which gives you the option of having your geographic coordinates written to each photo as it’s exposed. This is SUPER handy but can be taxing on your camera’s battery and not many cameras have GPS built-in.