Geotagging Devices And Software; Now You’ll Always Know Where You Took That Picture Page 2

See And Share ’Em
You can generate a Google Earth-friendly file and export the geocoded images to that site (www.earth.google.com/download-earth.html). Or, if you’ve established an account, take a parallel export route and share the tagged images online at sites such as Flickr, Picasa, and Panoramio. If you want to directly view these images on Google Earth without creating any additional export files, Panorado Flyer (www.panorado.com), a small freeware app, can whisk you to that location (Windows only). And if you really want to truly relive the experience, an application such as Qstarz GPS Travel Recorder PC Utility (supplied with the Qstarz device) can recreate your trip, as if you were on an amusement park ride, complete with slide show. This is a feature, along with reverse geocoding, that every software app should provide.

I have no doubt that a GPS logger will prove an invaluable asset, especially for those of you who do lots of traveling. Of course, it would be even better if every digital camera came equipped with a logger that could go the distance. And I expect that they will before long. But until then, I’ll be sure to keep one of these geotagging devices with me wherever I go. Not only will this information prove invaluable when captioning and filing the pictures, but it should come in handy when licensing these images for stock. And maybe even help find where we left that rental car.

Sony GPS-CS1KA
Wolverine GEO-35 GPS Auto GeoTag Receiver

Trackstick Manager conveniently watermarks geotagged images for online use.

Questions To Ask Before Buying A Geotagging Device
These devices are not cheap, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend an outrageous amount to get something that will work for you. Once you’ve set a price range, ask these questions:
• Will the device/software work with my computer’s operating system—Microsoft Windows or Apple Macintosh?

• Do I need wireless capability (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi)?

• Does the device/software support raw files (so that I can stop recording JPEGs and use the memory card more efficiently)?

• Do I anticipate occasionally ducking indoors to shoot or otherwise using the device where I may not be able to get a clear signal fix (hence a need for a placemark button)?

• Do I want to conveniently display geotagged images on a map or export to an online photo-sharing site (something that the software should do without undue fuss)?

• Do I expect to be traveling for extended periods without any opportunity to download geologs or replace/recharge batteries (hence a need for large storage capacity and suitable batteries)?

Super Trackstick

A detailed view of an image geotagged by the Wolverine GEO-35.

Geotagging Rules Of The Road
In order for geotagging to work properly, you need to abide by some basic rules and be aware of certain functionality issues:
• Camera clock format. Set the camera clock to display the date as year/month/date (YY/MM/DD).

• Every second counts. Set the time on the camera as precisely as possible to local time, even down to the second. Notes: (1) the software may provide a time sync utility/wizard to help with this (based on first acquiring a signal fix with the GPS receiver and coordinated via USB with your computer)—a prudent step before any trip; (2) pay attention to daylight saving time, where applicable, in the camera and software settings; (3) where you’ll be crossing two or more time zones and shooting/geotagging data in each of these time zones, do not adjust camera time for the duration of the trip (this may vary with the device, so check the manual or contact technical support); the manufacturer may recommend consistently using GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) instead of local time during such excursions; (4) software applications may allow you to apply a time correction to forestall erroneous geotags.

• Initial time to acquire a signal fix. Locking onto a geostationary satellite signal can take upward of 15 minutes or more the first time the device is used, after changing batteries, or following a prolonged period of nonuse.

• Maintain a line of sight. The GPS receiver/logger should have direct access to geostationary satellites that the device subscribes to (the more the merrier, based on specific chipset requirements). That means that you need to be in a fairly open area where the device and satellite can have “eye contact,” and clear of skyscrapers or thick stands of trees, even avoiding narrow streets, and away from power lines. You can stow the device in a jacket or vest pocket with no undue consequences. Clouds do not normally interfere with a device’s operation.

• Manual placemarking en route. Many devices sport a manual placemark button that lets you mark points of interest or specific sets of geo-coordinates. This comes in handy when you anticipate losing the satellite signal (as when going indoors), so that you can properly geotag the image, or if there’s a point along the way for which the device can help you map out a return route (via software).

Jack Neubart tried out a number of geotagging devices and to see his top picks and evaluations, go to the Instant Links section of www.shutterbug.com.

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