Before the rush

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by evan-pak

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The Sony Alpha SLT-A55 made its way to me and it has a built-in GPS. Each photo is marked with its GPS coordinates, elevation and orientation. I am aware that if I upload such a photo to Picasa or other web-services like Panoramio, then I'll be able to see a map showing the location where a picture was taken.

The question is, what can I do with this locally? Meaning, on my own computer without uploading my photos anywhere. What kind of programs exist to use the location data in a meaningful or interesting way?

For my specific case, Linux and Windows software are fine (I run the latter in a VM under the former). Mac-only software won't be of any use to me.

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"made its way to me"? - I wish a $900 piece of equipment would randomly show up at my doorstep. ;) – rfusca Jan 16 '11 at 2:58
Hmmm; although mac-only software won't be of use to you, it might be to someone. In which case we might as well not tag this post with any particular OS..... – mattdm Jan 16 '11 at 19:23
@rfusca- It's the first A55, the serial number is 1! Yes, ONE, preceded by a many zeros. It has been making the rounds among members of the press, so it's not entirely random, sorry. – Itai Jan 16 '11 at 22:03
Maybe post a raw photo so I can see if any of my software knows what to do with the GPS info? – wallyk Jan 16 '11 at 22:04
@mattdm - Yeah, I had some doubts about asking for a platform-specific answer to get the one I needed, or asking for ALL possible answers and simply read the ones that are relevant. I chose the former, it will make the voting simpler and more inline with my needs. – Itai Jan 16 '11 at 22:05
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Picasa has a Geo-Tag feature that allows you to use Google Earth to write EXIF location data. You get to see some small picture thumbnails on the Google Earth's map - it's nice to see photos you've taken while traveling to a certain area.

I believe this is possible with pictures already containing EXIF location data - check out this link.

This does not involve uploading photos anywhere (note I'm not speaking about Picasa Web, but about the Windows-based client), but it does require Internet access.

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Lightroom 4 will look at GPS data and pulls Google maps to show you where you've taken your pictures and lets you search/filter by location, among other things.

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This solution didn't exist when this question was asked, but has become the main reason why I find GPS data capture useful in my daily workflow. It works excellent! – dpollitt Feb 20 '13 at 15:04

Answering my own question on behalf of a friend who showed me Geotag. This is a Java software that can show you any number of pictures on a map in a browser winder.

No need to upload anything, it fetches the maps from Google Maps and uses a local http server to display them. So, it is one possibility that matches what I am looking for.

It can show the point and direction where pictures where taken, although for some reason it does not get the direction information from the A55. According the spec, the camera records GPS position, elevation and orientation.

What's missing is that I'd like to do the opposite, instead of going from image to location, to go from a location to images around it, given a certain proximity metric. That would require a software that indexes all my images like Lightroom.

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Are you sure that the spec means "the direction that you were facing" by 'orientation'? When I hear 'orientation' my first thought is, "did I have my camera held in landscape or portrait mode." – drewbenn Jan 18 '11 at 6:13
Yes, the compass orientation is recorded as well. There are currently 4 cameras that do that: Casio H20G, Fuji F550 EXR, Sony SLT-A55 and Sony HX5. – Itai Jan 18 '11 at 14:14
There is an EXIF tag in the file you shared labelled "Direction of movement" (0x000f) and it has a value of 94.41 (I assume that's in degrees, so East?). But that is certainly different that orientation! If its name accurately describes its behavior, it would only be useful if you take pictures pointed in the direction in which you were moving. There is also a tag "Orientation" and its value is "top - left" so I think that is more likely landscape vs. portrait. No EXIF tag includes "compass" in its label. You might try some experiments with 'exif -l' and 'exif -t 0x000f filename' – drewbenn Jan 19 '11 at 1:20

I've been religiously geocoding my photos for a number of years - I find it handy for scouting locaitons -- so if I get a photo of some bluebells thta have gone past their best, I can know exactly where to go to get the shot for the next year's season.

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I don't know what software is out there to do anything automatically. But if the location data is stored as EXIF data, with 'exif' you could write some scripts to find photos taken at a certain location (e.g. at your house), or near a location (within say .01 or .02 degrees) or in a city. I currently use exif to analyze my favorite focal lengths, with e.g. 'exif -m -t 0x920a filename'; you could do something similar then with location data. After a couple years of data, you could graph number of photos per location (e.g. to .1 degree or whatever is appropriate) to see where you've taken your favorite photos, as an idea of where to take your next vacation. If "orientation" is like "pointing North", you might be able to see if there's anything interesting about time of day, or season, and direction (do you see a spike towards the west in summer evenings?).

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I'm glad to see they are including gps chips in cameras now!

I know this doesn't directly answer your question, but I personally geotag my photos when I'm on vacation so I can remember where I went. I can create a high level view of the path I took through a city (on a day level) or a wider view during a whole trip. My camera doesn't geotag, but my iphone has software to create paths and I have a lightroom plugin to match up photos with a path (Jeffrey’s Geoencoding Plugin).

As far as offline software, I use picassa to see my photos on a map without uploading them. This still requires an internet connection to access google maps. Personally viewing photos on a map is the only use for geotagging I have thought of, and I would imagine it is the typical use case. I'd love to hear other ideas.

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Aperture 3's "Places" feature can show you your photos on a map:

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For the record, iPhoto has the same feature. – Henry Jackson Apr 28 '11 at 0:58

Digikam has good geodata support. There is a built in map and other functionality.

It is written for Linux but also runs on windows.

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