Manually Geotagging/Geocoding Your Images
2. Geocoding Software Options
So, I had several thousand images taken over three or four months, and
10,000 miles of travel. I needed batch capabilities, and I needed to
determine how accurate I wanted to be. These images are taken with a
Canon S70 and a Nikon D70, and are both JPEG and RAW formats. I wanted
put the data into the EXIF header of the files, or a possible sidecar
file. Generating IPTC keywords would be a bonus.
Several software options came up in my search:
leader with GPS users. It does allow manual updates, but it also costs
- BreezeSystems Downloader
Pro also syncs GPS track logs with
images, and I highly recommend it for file naming and storage
management tasks, but it doesn’t allow manual geocoding. It also costs
is free, allows offline tagging and geocoding, but has had some compatibility
is a geophoto community and software provider for Windows and Symbian.
(See the site’s downloads section.)
is great free
software for tagging images, including manual geotagging, but it only
supports IPTC/XMP and JPEG – if that’s what you need, this is a good
place to start. The indexing and search features are a nice touch.
- I have listed other options in the resources section below.
Finally I stumbled on Geosetter. These are the features that make it a
- EXIF encoding using Exiftool
- IPTC tagging with web lookup
- Jpeg and Raw file compatibility
- Google Map interface for manual encoding
- Importation of track files from GPS (For that GPS
in my future)
- Multiple files can be coded at once
- XML sidecar support
- Flickr tagging support
- You can save favorite places for use later
One main drawback is that it is only Windows based software. Mac folks
might try HoudahGeo
really simple. Fire it up online and it brings up a Google map page. To
use this program:
- Browse to the directory with
- Browse the map to where you want to go
- Click to add a pointer (you can drag it to adjust)
- Select the image
- Click apply (Once you assign a marker
to an image, the marker turns blue, and cannot be moved.)
- Click save for
the info to be written to the image(s). (Images not saved will have a
- To apply a
position to multiple images, just select them all (shift+click or
Ctrl+click or Ctrl+A) before applying.
- Clicking into the map will add another
- All of the frames are adjustable,
so you can drag things until you get the ratios you want.
- I usually
“add location info automatically” turned on in the settings
(File>Settings).This will attempt to fill in the
city, and sublocation IPTC fields.
- If you don’t like the generated
location, head to Images>Undo. The position data is kept, but
location data goes away.
- You can edit the altitude information
under Images>Edit Data.
- When you are done, you will have newly
modified files, plus backups (if you ticked the box in the settings
menu) with the “_original” appended to the file
- You can save markers to favorites using the button in the
of the window. A prompt appears, allowing you to title the coordinates.
The favorites list is saved as an xml file in the geosetter
- You can also use the edit data menu to apply favorite
(Images>Edit Data). This is handy for working offline.
Using the Edit Data dialog to set the Image Altitude
I had a shot of Mt Augustine, an active volcano, taken out of a plane
window. How should I geolocate the image? First I used Google
Earth to approximate the location of the plane by getting an
approximate image along a straight flight path to Homer from McNeil
River, where we had been camping. Selecting Image>Edit Data from
GeoSetter menu, I then adjusted the altitude to represent a small plane
around 1500 feet.
In the end, I
had a nice map with all my images located on it.
The Google Earth Workaround
GeoSetter has useful but limited functionality if you are not
online. It allows you to move information from one image to another
without using the map. It does not interact directly with
program you download onto your computer, but with version 2.5.2 or
newer imports either format
of GE files. Now you can export your favorite places from GE,
import them into Geosetter. Begin by right
clicking on the places folder in Google Earth, and selecting “save as”.
You can then apply them to your images.
Other Stuff You
is the key underpinning of many interfaces, including GeoSetter. This
freeware perl script
created by Paul Harvey allows the reading and writing of meta data to a
large variety of photo formats, but it works via command line, and
requires additional software to run in a windows environment.
Consequently, many programmers have wrapped it in other more
user-frendly graphical interfaces (exifer,
Though Exiftool is
widely regarded as safe, modifying EXIF headers can corrupt your files.
Test this software on duplicate images to make sure – sort of like
that inconspicuous bit of fabric you are supposed to use to see if it
is colorsafe. Geosetter can create backups as it goes along, for
One thing to remember if uploading EXIF encoded photos for public
consumption, is that many
services do not utilize EXIF data unless told to. (Location data
especially, as it could be a privacy concern. Would you want the world
to know exactly where you live?) You may have to turn on geocoding, or
tag generation from EXIF in order for the software/site to utilize it.
Now all I have to do is annotate those images. I think there are three
thousand of them… The good news is that most of them are of
bears, within an hours walk of the camp at McNeill River. I can get
pretty close and bulk code them. Will it be worth it? Looking down at
a map of my journey, I can say yes it will be.
has good tagging resources, including a list
of where information is stored in image files, and
- Flickr users chime in on the Exif vs ITPC issue here
- This site has good information on
geotagging and Picasa
- Wikipedia has basics on geocoded photos
suers might look at geocoding info
is a mashup of Google Earth mapping and Flickr photos. A great way to
explore or participate.
- Our article on photosharing is an excellent resource
- Head here
for info on
converting lat/long minutes/decimal
- Outbackphoto shows
to install and use Exiftool to transfer metadata to panorama images
is both a geocentric
photo sharing site, and a source of freeware to manually geotag.
is another source of geo data, if
you are boycotting google maps. (It’s USA and Canada only) It can
lists of cities with their location data.
is another freeware option with a Google Maps interface
conversion is a utility for getting those
files into a non proprietary format
- NASA’s World
Wind is a tempting terrain visualization tool see also the wiki
- Geotagger is a free Exif and
Google earth solution for the Mac. (Plus, he is a Kiwi.)
is another useful program for Mac folks. It works on EXIF,
but there are
reports of problems with RAW files.