Westminster fountain at sunset

by Jorge Córdoba

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Lightroom 4 adds geotagging capabilities, including the ability to load GPX tracks from a GPS recorder.

I used to use Microsoft Pro Photo Tools (now discontinued) which would cross reference the time vs. the location, and add the metadata to the image. I'd like to be able to do this with Lightroom, and it appears that it should be able to everything, but how do you actually do this, or is it just showing GPS tracks for the fun of it?

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2 Answers 2

You can do it from the Map module, by saying Map > Tracklog > Load Tracklog.... It's somewhat awkward because the map takes over most of your screen, forcing you to use the Filmstrip to select the photos the tracklog will get applied to.

I've been using Jeffrey Friedl's Geoencoding Support plugin since Lightroom 2, and upgraded for Lightroom 4 because the built-in features simply don't replace it.

This plugin can do a lot of things:

  • Photo geoencoding, and not just from a GPX tracklog.

    The basic usage process, after you've installed the plugin, is to select the photos you want to modify in the Grid view — much better than the Filmstrip for this — run the plugin with File > Plug-in Extras > Geoencode..., tell the plugin where to get the geodata, and go.

    The geodata can come from:

    • any tracklog format supported by GPSBabel

    • Google Earth

    • Google Latitude

    • a hand-entered lat/long pair

    • a pair of lat/long points with the plugin assuming a constant speed and direction between them when tagging the photos

    • a street address via reverse geoencoding

    • and probably more I'm overlooking today, with a good promise of more to come, given the history of the plugin

  • Open Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, Bing Maps, OpenStreetMap, etc. with your photo's location as the center point of the map.

    While it's great to have a live map built right into Lightroom now, there are features in these other mapping programs not available to Lightroom. Even if you're just going to Google Maps on the web — which appears to be what's built into Lightroom — you can do several things on Google's site that you can't from within Lightroom, like get driving directions.

  • Open photo web sites like Flickr and Panoramio with the selected photo's location as a search term, so you can see other photos taken at that site.

All that having been said, I don't think the built-in Lightroom geoencoding features are useless. Rather, it's that I view Jeffrey's plugin as my default way to pipe data in and out of Lightroom; most of the time, it does things better.

Still, there are a few things I do within Lightroom, natively.

Given that you have a lot of photos geotagged, I prefer selecting them in the Grid module, then switching straight into the Map module to see where I've been. You can do this with the Friedl plugin, but it means launching an external program (Google Earth) or web site.

The built-in Map module is also better for tagging photos where you don't have tracklog data. I've set up several presets for places I often take photos, like my home and that of my close relatives. The Friedl plugin can do this, too, but again it requires the assistance of an outside program.

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1  
What does the plug-in offer over the geocoding support added in LR4? –  Rowland Shaw Aug 21 '12 at 20:12
    
@RowlandShaw: Answered that sub-question, too. :) Also added an explanation for how to do it the native way. –  Warren Young Aug 21 '12 at 20:57
    
I may be asking for a thin metal ruler here, but my question was "how do I use the stuff built in to LR4", I'd say it would be fair to explain why I should not use it, and use an additional product instead :) –  Rowland Shaw Aug 22 '12 at 8:47
    
That's why I added the leading paragraph. I answered the question you did ask, as well as the one you should have asked: "Is there a better way?" :) –  Warren Young Aug 22 '12 at 9:19
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's actually quite automated, once you figure it out:

From the library, choose the folder you're looking to geocode, and move to the Map panel. Then, from the Map menu, expand the submenu for Tracklog, and choose Load Tracklog. Simply select the photo(s) you want to geocode against your tracklog, and then, from the Map menu, and Tracklog sub menu is an option to Auto-tag selected photos which will align them based on the timestamp.

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