Thursday, March 3, 2011

Geotagging is simple, easy, and affordable (Guide, Part 1)

Simple Geotagging

You don’t have to have one of those fancy, dedicated GPS units that are specially made for cameras to geotag your photos. With the number of smartphones on the up and up and the features and technology of these phones becoming more and more mind blowing, you might as well put yours to use. Most smartphones these days have a GPS built into them (iPhone, Droid X, Droid 2 to name a few). These phones make for the best GPS units around. Why? Because they can connect to the internet to download the latest maps and you don’t have to worry about the maps being updated. Also, the maps and navigation apps available in these smartphones’ app markets are outstanding and provide a variety of functionality. For right now, we are going to focus on geotagging your photos. If you have a smartphone or GPS unit, a computer, and a camera, then you are set for one of the most awesome features of photography. Ready? Let’s get started with the basics.

First you are going to need a GPS-enabled device of some sort. This can be your phone or your GPS unit. To geotag our photos, our GPS will need to track our position and record the coordinates and then be able to export that data in a .gpx file that we will later import into our computer.

  • If you own a GPS unit, look in your manual for intructions how to turn on tracking and how to import the file on your computer. Searching Google or your favorite search engine could also turn up video and written tutorials on how to do this.
  • If you own an Android device (Droid X, Droid 2, Droid Incredible, Atrix 4G, Aria, Evo 4G, My touch 3G/4G to name a few) Go to your devices product webpage to make sure it has built in GPS. Then go into the Android Market and download an app called My Tracks. This app does the tracking. Once you have downloaded it, open it and press the menu button on your phone. You should see an option to Record your track, touch that. Now, your tracks are being record with the built in GPS. When you are done recording, hit the menu button again and touch the stop recording button. Then you will be prompted to name your track. Then hit save. That’s it! Your track has been saved!
  • iPhone users, try Trails or Trails lite. Since the iPhone is overall more limited than the Android phones. Your method is easier and harder at the same time. First, download the paid version of Trails or Trails lite, the free version. Then, launch the app. You are taken to the My Tracks section of the app. To start a new track click the plus ( + ) button in the corner of the screen. Give your trail a name and hit save. Then your tracks will start recording. To stop recording your track slide your finger across the bottom of the screen and tap pause. Then you will see an overview of your trail. You can view distance and duration etc. If you click the map icon in the bottom left corner, you will see a map of your trail. That’s it! Your track has been saved!

Now what? I will save that information for Part 2, which will be coming soon. Stay tuned!

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